Commentary: High Stakes in Pennsylvania’s Primary Races

Pennsylvania, where deep-blue and deep-red politics collide, is in the midst of an unprecedented primary election season. The May primary is the first one in the Commonwealth’s 235-year history in which voters – except registered Independents – will have the chance to vote for candidates in open gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, new state House and Senate districts, and new congressional districts.

In the marquee races for Senate and governor, both major parties are struggling to nominate candidates who can not only make it through the paddlewheel of the primary, but also win in the general election – especially in a state that typically plays politics between the 40-yard lines.

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Seth Bluestein Confirmed as Philadelphia City Commissioner

Philadelphia City Council on Thursday confirmed Seth Bluestein, a longtime aide to retired City Commissioner Al Schmidt, to replace his former boss.

Like Schmidt, Bluestein is a Republican who will serve in the minority-party seat on the three-member board which oversees elections in Philadelphia. After the former was first elected in 2011, Bluestein joined his staff and eventually rose to the position of chief deputy. Last autumn, Schmidt announced he would leave his position to head the Committee of Seventy, an advocacy group working on governance issues.

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Pennsylvania Legislature Must Pass, and Governor Must Sign, Congressional Map Monday to Meet Department’s Deadline

Pennsylvania’s Republican-led state Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) must approve a congressional map Monday in order to meet a deadline set by the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Last summer, then-Secretary of the Commonwealth Veronica Degraffenried (D) announced that her department wanted new congressional districts enacted before January 24 so election officials and candidates may adequately prepare for the May 17, 2022 primaries. Lawmakers redesign districts every decade according to population changes reflected in U.S. Census data, whose release last year stalled several months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Population trends dictate that the Keystone State will lose one congressional district out of its present eighteen. 

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