Making History In The Nation’s First Capital

From Philadelphia making history to the Supreme Court shoring up its Democratic majority, Pennsylvania’s elections had an eye on 2024, even if it wasn’t obvious.

When he was working to get Bill Clinton elected president, campaign strategist James Carville described Pennsylvania as “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between.”

That alluded to the fact that Democrats traditionally didn’t do well statewide because of what was known as the “Republican T” – that section of the state where the cows tend to outnumber the people.

But while many expected the Democrats to do well in Philadelphia, they also did well statewide, which might be a harbinger of things to come in 2024, said Ernest Owens, editor at large for Philadelphia Magazine.

According to Owens, whomever wins Pennsylvania in 2024 is going to have to work hard for it.

“This election may determine how things will go in 2024,” he said. “Unlike some states, [President Joe] Biden is leading in Pennsylvania right now and it’s a battleground state.”

On Tuesday (Oct. 7), Democratic Appellate Court Judge Daniel McCaffrey defeated his Republican opponent Judge Carolyn Carluccio to win a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. McCaffrey now replaces Chief Justice Max Baer, who died last year.

Philadelphia made history Tuesday when former City Councilmember Cherelle Parker became Philadelphia’s 100th mayor and the first woman to hold the office. Parker bested former Republican City Councilmember David Oh in a race that was called 45 minutes after the polls closed. Since the city has a 7 to 1 Democratic voter registration edge, the result was no surprise.

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The city’s gun violence problem was the focus of much of Parker’s campaign. Though she has proposed controversial solutions – including bringing in the Pennsylvania National Guard to deal with the opioid problem in the city’s Kensington section and allowing the police department to utilize Terry stops, or stop-and-frisk, more often – she thanked the city’s voters for giving her a chance to lead.

“My message to Philadelphians, from all walks of life, was that if they would just give me the opportunity…I want to put to great use everything inside of me, my lived life experience, my professional experience, my academic preparation…that I will put all of it to great use to work with you all to make Philadelphia the safest, cleanest and greenest with economic opportunity for all,” Parker said.

The City Council that Parker will be working with will look a lot different than the one of which she was a member – because it’ll have only one Republican.

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Timika Lane and Jill Beck, a lawyer from Pittsburgh, won election to Pennsylvania’s Superior Court. Matt Wolf, a Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge, won a seat on the Commonwealth Court.

The Working Families Party took both minority at-large council seats, finishing a job it started four years ago when incumbent Councilmember At-Large Kendra Brooks became the first third-party candidate to win a seat in 70 years. Nicolas O’Rourke, pastor of the Living Water United Church of Christ, bested Republicans Jim Hasher and Drew Murray for the second minority at-large seat.

Brooks and O’Rourke’s candidacies led to a citywide discussion about what constitutes a “minority party” under the city charter. Republicans made the argument that Working Families was too close to the Democratic majority to hold them accountable. Brooks had been endorsed by several prominent Democrats including Gov. Josh Shapiro, and both Brooks and O’Rourke were endorsed by U.S. Sen. John Fetterman.

“Philadelphia is officially a two-party town,” Working Families Party National Director Maurice Mitchell said in a statement. “But it’s not the Republicans and Democrats…it’s the Working Families Party and the Democrats. We are so proud of our two champions Kendra and Nicolas, and we know they’re going to wake up every day ready to fight for quality schools, clean air and water, and housing you can afford. The future of Philadelphia just got a little brighter.”

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