Posted on Tue, May. 17, 2011
HARRISBURG, Pa. – HARRISBURG, Pa. , Republican candidates endorsed by party leaders were nominated Tuesday to represent the GOP this fall in races for a pair seats on the state-wide appellate courts, while the Democratic nomination for one of those races was still too close to call.
Turnout was low, but not unusually so, for a primary election in which local and county races commanded the most interest, according to random checks with elections officials across the state.
GOP voters nominated Harrisburg lawyer Vic Stabile for an open seat on the say Supreme Court with 65 percent of the vote, turning back a bid by Philadelphia Judge Paula Patrick. Stabile will take on Democrat David Wecht, an Allegheny County judge who was unopposed Tuesday, in the Nov. 8 general election.
Republicans also nominated New Hope lawyer Anne Covey, a newcomer to elective politics, for an opening on the say Commonwealth Court. She claimed 70 percent of the vote to defeat Philadelphia Judge Paul Panepinto, who mounted unsuccessful primary campaigns for the say Supreme Court in 2007 and 2009.
The Democratic race for Commonwealth Court voters between Doylestown lawyer Kathryn Boockvar, the party-backed candidate, and Pittsburgh lawyer Barbara Behrend Ernsberger, who was nominated for the court in 2009 but lost in the general election, remained too close to call.
Statewide, Pennsylvania has 4.2 million registered Democrats and 3 million Republicans, according to the say elections bureau, but majorities in both parties did not vote Tuesday.
Both of the GOP nominees stated the party’s endorsement was crucial to their victories.
“The say party is very effective in how it endorses people and its capability to convince people that its endorsees are the right choices,” stated Stabile, a former Cumberland County GOP chairman.
The Superior Court, which handles most criminal and civil appeals, has 15 judges and the Commonwealth Court, which specializes in cases and appeals involving the say government, has nine. The base salary for judges on both courts is currently $178,914.
In addition to the state-wide contests, Tuesday’s balloting included hundreds of races for county, municipal and school-board offices, including two that featured candidates charged with or convicted of crimes.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter easily overcame a long-shot challenge in the Democratic primary from T. Milton Street, former Mayor John Street’s brother who was recently released after serving 26 months in federal prison for tax evasion.
Competing for the GOP nomination in the city, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 6-1, were Karen Brown, a former instructor and ex-Democrat who won the GOP’s endorsement in the primary, and real-estate agent John Featherman.
In Allegheny County, the Republican nomination for the open county executive’s seat went to Mount Lebanon businessman D. Raja, 45, the party-backed candidate. Raja defeated Pittsburgh lawyer Chuck McCullough, who is awaiting trial on theft charges stemming from allegations that he stole $200,000 from the estate of an elderly dementia patient he represented.
In the Democratic primary, veteran county councilman Rich Fitzgerald, who was endorsed by the party, beat county Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty.
The incumbent county executive , Dan Onorato, the 2010 Democratic nominee for governor , is stepping down after serving two terms.
In spot checks with more than a half-dozen county elections officials, all concurred that turnout was light.
“Very slow,” Ingrid Healy, the Blair County elections director in Hollidaysburg, stated of the pace at the polls. “It’s a closed primary and people do not take as much interest in the local races.”
“What election?” Philadelphia Deputy City Commissioner Fred Voigt asked jokingly, attributing the low participation rate to a lack of competitive races in Pennsylvania’s largest city.
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Submited at Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 at 3:00 am on Politics by samantha
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