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A roundup of some key races in Pennsylvania's primary

Written by The Associated Press | May 22, 2019 5:27 AM
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Montgomery County voters will using a new voting system this year. Paper ballots will be filled out and then fed into a scanning machine where they will be read and stored. (Courtesy of Montgomery County administrative office)

(Harrisburg) -- Here's a look at the winners in key races in Pennsylvania's primary:

PHILADELPHIA MAYOR

Democrat Jim Kenney won the three-way Democratic primary in his bid for re-election, virtually guaranteeing him a second term as mayor of the nation's sixth largest city.

Kenney, 61, beat two longtime city political figures: Alan Butkovitz, the former city controller, and state Sen. Anthony Williams. Republican Billy Ciancaglini ran unopposed in the GOP primary, but has little chance in November's general election in the heavily Democratic city.

U.S. HOUSE SPECIAL ELECTION

Republican Fred Keller, a state lawmaker from Snyder County, won the special election for Congress in a heavily Republican district that sprawls across central and northern Pennsylvania. Keller, 53, will replace the Republican congressman who resigned in January.

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State Rep. Fred Keller, left, with U.S. Rep. G.T. Thompson in Williamsport Saturday, March 2, 2019. Thompson announced that Keller was selected by conferees to be the nominee for the U.S. House 12th Congressional district. (Anne Danahy/WPSU)

He beat Democrat Marc Friedenberg and ran with the support of President Donald Trump. The 12th District also strongly supported Trump in the 2016 election. The district covers all or parts of 15 counties -- including Perry, Snyder Union, Juniata and Mifflin counties, as well as most of Northumberland County.

The two-year term runs through 2020. Keller is a fifth-term member of the state House of Representatives, and one of its most conservative members, with a 90% lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union.

LEGISLATIVE SPECIAL ELECTION

Voters have picked Republicans to fill three open seats in the state Legislature in heavily Republican districts in south-central and western Pennsylvania.

Tuesday's special elections brought no surprises, since all three seats were last held by Republicans. The special elections have no effect on Republican control in both chambers.

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Shown is the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. on the Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (Matt Rourke/The Associated Press)

In the 33rd Senate district in southcentral Pennsylvania, Republican Doug Mastriano beat Democrat Sarah Hammond.

In the 41st Senate district in western Pennsylvania, Republican Joe Pittman beat Democrat Susan Boser.

In the 11th House district in Butler County, Republican Marci Mustello beat Democrat Sam Doctor.

SUPERIOR COURT JUDGES

A steelworkers' union lawyer and a county prosecutor have been nominated to run for open seats on a statewide appellate court.

Democrat Amanda Green-Hawkins, a Pittsburgh lawyer, and Republican Megan King, a Chester County prosecutor, won spots on the fall ballot in Tuesday's primary election for the state Superior Court.

Races for the last two spot remained too close to call Tuesday night.

Also running in the Democratic primary were Philadelphia Judge Daniel McCaffery and civil litigation lawyer Beth Tarasi, of suburban Pittsburgh. Running in the Republican primary were Cumberland County Judge Christylee Peck and Rebecca Warren, a former Montour County district attorney.

The Democratic Party had endorsed McCaffery and Green-Hawkins while the GOP had endorsed Peck and King.

ALLENTOWN MAYOR

Allentown's interim mayor has declared victory in a four-way Democratic primary as he seeks to serve the final two years of imprisoned former Mayor Ed Pawlowski's term.

The Morning Call reports that Ray O'Connell declared himself the winner Tuesday over challengers Michael Daniels, Cheryl Johnson Watt and Patrick Palmer. Tim Ramos ran unopposed in the GOP primary.

Pawlowski, a Democrat, resigned in March 2018 after his conviction on federal corruption charges. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for rigging municipal contracts in a scheme to raise money for his political campaigns for higher office.

The winner of the fall general election will serve the final two years of Pawlowski's term. The former mayor was re-elected in 2017 while under indictment but resigned two months into his fourth term.

O'Connell is a 69-year-old retired school administrator and former councilman.

PHILADELPHIA SHERIFF

 Philadelphia's two-term sheriff, a target of several sexual harassment lawsuits, has been defeated in the city's Democratic primary by a woman who leads a city organization of black police officers.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that former police Officer Rochelle Bilal held a nearly 20,000-vote advantage with more than 85 percent of returns in, a crushing defeat for Sheriff Jewell Williams.

Two former sheriff's deputies also sought the Democratic nomination for sheriff.

Over the past year it was revealed Williams has been the target of three sexual harassment lawsuits. Two were settled and one is pending. Williams denied all the allegations.

No Republican sought the office but an independent could still challenge Bilal in the November general election.

The 61-year-old Bilal is president of the Guardian Civic League and secretary of the local NAACP chapter.

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Photo by AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. speaks during a news conference Thursday, April 26, 2012.

PITTSBURGH DISTRICT ATTORNEY

Pittsburgh's longtime top prosecutor has fended off a challenge in the Democratic primary, his first in 20 years.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala on Tuesday defeated a former public defender who criticized his handling of the case of a white police officer charged in the fatal shooting of a black teenager.

Political newcomer Turahn Jenkins announced his candidacy just weeks after Antwon Rose II was fatally shot in the back by East Pittsburgh police officer Michael Rosfeld, leading to protests.

Jenkins is the county's former chief deputy public defender and a former prosecutor.

He criticized Zappala's office for not calling an expert witness on the use of force during Rosfeld's trial. He also said prosecutors should have objected to letting Rosfeld remain free on bail before trial. Rosfeld was acquitted.

Zappala defended his office's handling of the Rosfeld case. He said that "political rhetoric notwithstanding, I think we're the best office in Pennsylvania," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

He faces no Republican challenger in November.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Zappala praised his opponent for a "valiant effort to advance the conversation on criminal justice."

He said he understands public expectations are changing.

"I am looking forward to getting back to work advancing the agenda that they have insisted upon: further reduction of cash bail, more pathways toward diversion and less incarceration, advocating reform of laws determining justifiable use of force and categorizing violent acts against the LGBTQ community as hate crimes," he said.

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