HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania voters turned out in sparse numbers Tuesday to settle contests for a pair of openings on the state appellate courts and fill thousands of local offices and judgeships. In Allegheny County, where a competitive race for county executive stirred voters’ interest, election manager Mark Wolosik was predicting a turnout of at least 30 percent. “It’s a beautiful day here,” he said. “I don’t think that people can use the weather as an excuse” for not voting. Timothy Benyo, chief clerk for the Board of Elections in Lehigh County, credited the balmy weather for keeping turnout there above 20 percent of registered voters. In the statewide races, Democrat David Wecht, an Allegheny County judge, is competing against Republican Vic Stabile, a Harrisburg lawyer, for a seat on Superior Court. Two lawyers from Bucks County, Democrat Kathryn Boockvar and Republican Anne Covey, are vying for a seat on the Commonwealth Court. Wecht raised at least $522,000 through Friday, with $300,000 of that coming from a trial lawyers’ group. Stabile raised at least $210,000 and the state Republican Party augmented that with more than $180,000 worth of services, mostly TV and radio ads, according to campaign finance reports and GOP officials. Boockvar reported total contributions of more than $390,000, while Covey raised more than $378,000. Both candidates tapped their personal resources during the last two weeks of the campaign — Boockvar for $25,000 and Covey for $15,000, according to their reports. Six incumbent appellate judges also are listed on the ballot — without opponents — for up-or-down votes on whether they should serve additional 10-year terms: Supreme Court Justice J. Michael Eakin, Superior Court judges John T. Bender and Mary Jane Bowes and Commonwealth Court judges Renee Cohn Jubelirer, Mary Hannah Leavitt and Robert E. Simpson Jr. Eakin was one of the year’s top campaign fundraisers. His committee collected more than $526,000, mostly from fellow GOP office-holders but also law firms, unions and business groups. His supporters described the money as protection against a potential 11th-hour challenge by an unknown political enemy. Eakin aired TV spots in some of the state’s media markets. Voters also will fill thousands of local positions including district judgeships, county and municipal offices and school board seats. The positions include 48 open county judgeships in 24 counties, according to state elections officials. In Philadelphia, Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter is expected to cruise to re-election over little-known Republican Karen Brown, whose low-budget campaign has not been able to get much traction. A third candidate, political activist Wali “Diop” Rahman, is listed on the ballot as an independent. Nutter “doesn’t seem to be facing much difficulty at all,” said Michael Hagen, a political science professor at Temple University. “The Republicans haven’t been able to mount much of a challenge.” Voters in Allegheny County will choose between Democrat Rich Fitzgerald, a former county councilman, and Republican D. Raja, a software entrepreneur, to fill the open county executive’s seat. In a closely watched race in the Philadelphia suburbs, Democratic state Rep. Josh Shapiro and running mate Leslie Richards hoped to end decades of Republican control of the Montgomery County commissioners in a tight race against GOP incumbent Bruce Castor and running mate Jenny Brown. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the county, long a GOP bastion, 46 percent to 39 percent. ——— Associated Press writer Patrick Walters in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
- State News
Bills could change way child abuse is defined in Pa.
Cumbersome legal definitions of child abuse can stymie doctors, nurses and caseworkers who might believe a child is in danger, according to advocates lobbying for changes to the state’s child welfare system.
State police plan increased holiday patrols
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania State Police and local police statewide are teaming for “Operation Safe Holiday,” an enforcement initiative focusing on seat belt use and impaired-driving that aims to reduce crashes and traffic fatalities this holiday season.
Pa. lawmakers won't stop tinkering with election rules
Conflicts caused by the state’s last attempt to improve the integrity of elections was the biggest source of complaints logged by a watchdog group during the 2012 presidential race.
Plan raises state's maximum speed limit to 70 mph
Motorists can look forward to road work zones all over the commonwealth when Gov. Tom Corbett signs a $2.4 billion a year transportation funding plan.
New business group out to spread word about economic impact and benefits of hunting
I think that I’d be pretty safe in saying that hunting is a pretty popular pastime in Pennsylvania. Few people would dispute that. With nearly 1 million hunters heading afield each year in this state alone, it’s pretty easy to see a ripple effect between hunting expenditures and area economies.
Rep. Brooks goes to bat for small games of chance in bars
The state Senate is poised to vote early this week on the final version of a bill that would allow thousands of bars across the commonwealth to begin offering small games of chance similar to those offered in social clubs and at veterans organizations.
Phone deregulation bill doesn't ring true
Consumer advocates and the AARP are warning that a telephone deregulation bill would allow phone companies across the commonwealth to shed price controls that have kept landline phone bills cheaper than wireless phone bills.
Pa. prison system sheds immigrants, saves money
In June, a convicted drug dealer from Lebanon County was deported instead of having to complete a 25-year sentence that could have kept him in prison until 2032. He was the first state prison inmate in Pennsylvania dismissed from the country before he had completed his minimum sentence.
SUNDAY ISSUE: Are you ready to pay more at the pump for transportation improvements when Harrisburg commuters are likely to be among the biggest beneficiaries?
While state House leaders wrangle over the details in a proposed billion dollar transportation spending plan, many members quietly worry that the plan will not include enough money for local roadwork even as their constituents are being asked to pony up more in gas tax and more in registration fees.
School board group mum on cost of speakers
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association conference featured a pair of costly celebrity keynote speeches, but the organization refused to disclose exactly how much it paid to Capt. Richard Phillips and Michael Eruzione.
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- Bills could change way child abuse is defined in Pa.