Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Court, Senate Races in Full Swing Tuesday's Election Will Determine 3 Spots on State Supreme Court

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Court, Senate Races in Full Swing Tuesday's Election Will Determine 3 Spots on State Supreme Court

Article excerpt

The stakes for the Nov. 3 election are potentially historic. The turnout is likely to be anything but.

Allegheny County Elections manager Mark Wolosik said he expects turnout of around 28 percent on Tuesday. The Department of State doesn't make such projections statewide, but similar elections in 2011 and 2007 drew just under 26 percent of voters across Pennsylvania.

But those who do show up may have an outsize role in shaping the state's future, largely because for the first time since the days of William Penn, there are three seats open on the state's Supreme Court. Who voters pick to fill those seats could give either Democrats or Republicans as much as a 5-2 advantage on the seven- member panel. That could have lasting implications for how state laws are interpreted, and for who is writing them years from now: The court plays a key role in drawing the lines of state legislative districts after each census.

The Democratic slate comprises Judge Christine Donohue and Judge David Wecht, both Pittsburghers who serve on the state Superior Court, and Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Kevin Dougherty. The Republicans are also fielding a Superior Court judge from Pittsburgh, Judith Olson, alongside Adams County President Judge Michael George and Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey of Bucks County.

The state Bar Association has rated all the judges "recommended" or "highly recommended" except Judge Covey, owing to a dispute over a negative ad she ran during a 2011 campaign.

The election is poised to be the most expensive judicial race in state history. Last week two judicial watchdog groups, the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake, calculated that as of late October, candidates had already raised $9.8 million, and that total TV advertising in the primary and general election had totaled $6. …

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