PA Primary Recommendations (Spring ’18)

This is really, really, late.
For those looking for the Cheat Sheet, it’s at the bottom of this very long post.

New US Congressional district boundaries will play a role in this primary. We have included maps to make it more clear which district, and which candidates races may be of interest to you. First, have a look at the map that is in effect for this election:
2018 PA Election Districts

We are headquartered in the Philadelphia area, so we will focus on Southeastern PA districts.
(Click on each one to check a detailed map for that district to see if it applies to you.)

  • District 1 Bucks county (plus Lansdale, Hatfield, Suderton, & Telford)
  • District 2 North & Northeast Philly
  • District 3 NW Philly, West Philly, & Central Philly North of Passyunk & Snyder
  • District 4 Montgomery county, plus Boyertown, Bechtelsville & Bally
  • District 5 Delaware county, & South Philly (South of Passyunk & Snyder)
  • District 6 Chester county (plus Reading area)
  • District 7 Lehigh, Northampton, & Southern Monroe county
  • District 11 Lancaster & York counties

This is a closed primary. Only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote on candidates. Independents will only be able to vote on the 3 ballot questions. This guide addresses the Democratic primary.

Get your districts, polling place, and voter info at
Ok, let’s get to it…

The Candidates

  • United States Senator – #1 Bob Casey
  • Starting off easy. Casey does a fine job, and seems to be emboldened by the current presidential administration.

  • Governor – #2 Tom Wolf
  • He’s the bulwark against Republicans run amok in Harrisburg and is doing an ok job.

  • Lieutenant Governor – #4 John Fetterman
  • I’m sorry, I’m just a softy for Fetterman. Nina Ahmad seems incredibly smart and capable, and several of the others, including Kathi Cozzone, and Ray Sosa seem decent as well. The one candidate I would not consider voting for is the incumbent, Mike Stack, who is not on a speaking terms with Tom Wolf and who has admitted that he and his wife are assholes who have grossly mistreated their state trooper security detail. We have written odes to Fetterman before, but his ability to speak to and connect with ordinary people is unparalleled and I want to see him stick around.

  • US Congress District 1 – Scott Wallace
  • It is difficult to do this, but is going to endorse a multi-millionaire for Congress. He has his ducks in a row as far as positions on the issues, (with the exception of specific support for a single-payer system), and he has experience working in DC on legislation. Among other things, he acted as general counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, working to investigate the effects of Agent Orange on Vietnam veterans. More recently he has been involved with the Wallace Global Fund, a charitable foundation working to empower women, fight climate change, and create the clean energy jobs of the future.

  • US Congress District 2Brendan Boyle
  • Boyle is the incumbent in this race. He has voted the right way on issues surrounding reproductive rights, but has received financial backing from Comcast, and AmeriPAC (a PAC still actively backing Debbie Wasserman-Schultz). He is awash in PAC money and has received virtually ZERO money from individual donors under $200. The DNC/DCCC stink is strong on this one.
    Michele Lawrence is a self-made woman from Newark, NJ. Later in her career as a Wells Fargo bank exec she focused on community service organizing, through service-driven partnerships that empowered individuals, small businesses, and communities. She led a partnership with 12 schools across Philadelphia that provided teachers, students and parents with access to arts, culture, and literacy programs. This all sounds good. Recently, she has started a self-empowerment LLC.
    NOTE: Neither candidate has a single policy position on a single issue posted on their website.
    The November election will be against David Torres, a retiree and political newcomer without a website.
    If identity politics are important to you, vote for Michele; she’s an African-American woman.
    If you are concerned that unseating an incumbent might give the Republicans an advantage, vote for Boyle.

  • US Congress District 3 – Kevin Johnson
  • Kevin Johnson is the challenger in this race. The positions stated on their websites are similar, but Evans has been in office a LONG time. Dwight Evans was one of the architects of Act 46, which did two things: 1) Removed the Philadelphia School District from local control; 2) Made it illegal for teachers to strike, despite working for several years without a contract. Although he is the incumbent, these two points are huge red strikes against Evans. Johnson takes in 14% from small donations and less than 2% from PACs while Evans campaign contributions are over 30% from PACs and 6% from small donations. That’s strike three for Evans. We are endorsing Kevin Johnson.

  • US Congress District 4 – Madeleine Dean
  • It concerns us that two of Madeline Dean’s top three donors are Excelon Corp., and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. This does not bode well for two of the priorities she puts forward on her website.”Madeleine wants to work in Congress to support a single payer or Medicare for All bill that is economically balanced…” Ahhh… the “economically balanced” qualifier creates a lot of wiggle room to keep BCBS and other big insurers in the loop on this one. Let’s see what she has in store on the Environmental protection front. “The United States must be a global leader in environmental preservation. This starts with our country rejoining the Paris Environmental Agreement. Technological advancements have also made 100% renewable energies attainable within our lifetime.” This sounds like a good start. The Paris Environmental Agreement didn’t go nearly far enough, but it’s a start. Just because we vote, that doesn’t mean we can turn away and hope that our elected officials do what they say they will. We hope that they will, but we must hold them accountable to their campaign promises.

  • US Congress District 5 – #13 Mary Gay Scanlon
  • Scanlon has done a lot of work as a pro bono attorney on behalf of at-risk children, students with disabilities, voting rights, and special education. She supports moving to a Universal/Single-Payer/Medicare-For-All type system and promises to work toward that end. She has the endorsement of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

  • US Congress District 6 – Chrissy Houlahan
  • She’s running unopposed, but has endorsed healthcare as a right, and seems to imply support for a single-payer system on her website. She needs to clarify her position on that front, and probably others before November. It will be our job as citizens to apply pressure to make that happen.

  • US Congress District 7 – Greg Edwards
  • Community leader and civil rights activist in the Lehigh Valley for 20 years. Greg Edwards promises to fight for campaign finance reform, Medicare for All, equitable education funding, free college tuition, economic justice, and civic empowerment. Despite being the front runner, the DCCC tried to push him out of the race. offers an enthusiastic endorsement for Greg Edwards.

  • US Congress District 8 – Matt Cartwright
  • Incumbent Centrist Democrat running unopposed. His website is even wishy-washy. Cartwright is backed by massive contributions from law firms and PACs (including AmeriPAC). We don’t normally cover this part of PA, but the fact that this guy doesn’t have a primary opponent pisses us off. Consider this a call for challengers for the next primary rather than an endorsement.

  • US Congress District 11 – Jess King
  • Although she is running unopposed, we want to give a shout-out to Jess King. She is one of many progressive Democrats (check out the Justice Democrats) who have sworn to only raise funds via small donations and refuse corporate contributions. Born and raised in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Jess King has refused to take corporate donations. She is focused on passing Medicare-for-All and building an America that belongs to all of us, not just the wealthiest and well-connected in Washington. We will be rooting for her in the November election regardless of her Republican opponent.

Senator in the General Assembly
These depend on where you live. The even numbered districts are up for reelection this year. The districts are different than the Congressional districts. Our staff weren’t able to adequately research all of these races. You’re going to have to go at it on your own. Incidentally, if you are interested in becoming a contributor/researcher for for future elections, please get in touch via our contact page.
District 16: Mark Pinsley

Representative in the General Assembly (aka State Rep.)
This will totally depend on your district. There are a lot of them and only some are contested.
Here are our favorites for some of the contested races:

District 175 (River Wards): Mike O’Brien
District 177 (Port Richmond/Bridesburg): Dan Martino
District 181 (North Philly): Malcolm Kenyatta
District 184 (Eastern South Philly): Elizabeth Fiedler
District 188 (Southern West Philly): James Roebuck
District 200 (Chestnut Hill/Mt. Airy): Chris Rabb

Member of Democratic State Committee
The state committee plots the course of the party in the state and makes decisions on policy, candidates and the direction of the party. They’re divvied up by state senate district and you can vote for a bunch. There’s no way you’re supposed to know who most of them are, so it’s a crapshoot.
If they’re in your district, vote for:
Jon Geeting
Joe Khan
Mary Louise Isaacson.
Don’t vote for Darrell Clarke.

Ballot Questions

Proposed Charter Change Question #1-
“Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to require an appropriation in each annual operating budget of $500,000, or such greater amount as Council decides, to the Police Advisory Commission or any successor body or bodies?”

Tentative Yes
By most accounts this commission could use a reinvigoration and would benefit from consistent funding. What’s infuriating is that City Council puts these questions on the ballot, while they are perfectly capable of appropriating that amount of money every year without changing the city’s constitution.

Proposed Charter Change Question #2-
“Shall the Educational Supplement to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to restore local control by confirming the Board of Education’s independent responsibility to administer the School District of Philadelphia, providing for public participation in the Educational Nominating Panel process, revising eligibility requirements, requiring City Council confirmation of School Board appointments, requiring a stated reason for removing a School Board Member and establishing a Parent and Community Advisory Council?”

The wording for this is really clunky. This amendment codifies what is going to happen this year anyways with the abolition of the School Reform Commission. In addition, it makes the board slightly less responsible to the mayor, and slightly more responsible to city council. This is ok for now, but I’m fairly certain it’s the first step towards even more ill-fated council control. I’ve got my eye on you, Philadelphia City Council.

Proposed Charter Change Question #3-
“Shall the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for mandatory training for all City officers and employees regarding sexual harassment in the workplace?”

Tentative yes.
A perfectly reasonable goal, but again, City Council is entirely capable of making an actual law about this. But no, they chose to muck up the city’s constitution to define something they already have the power to do.


Cheat Sheet:

-United States Senator – #1 Bob Casey
-Governor – #2 Tom Wolf
-Lieutenant Governor – #4 John Fetterman
-Representative in Congress by district:

  1. Scott Wallace
  2. Brendan Boyle
  3. Kevin Johnson
  4. Madeleine Dean
  5. Mary Gay Scanlon
  6. Chrissy Houlahan
  7. Greg Edwards
  8. Matt Cartwright (unopposed, which is unfortunate)
  9. (no endorsement)
  10. (no endorsement)
  11. Jess King (unopposed, but happy to endorse)

-State Senator – none
-State Representative (by district)
175: Mike O’Brien
177: Dan Martino
181: Malcolm Kenyatta
184: Elizabeth Fiedler
188: James Roebuck
200: Chris Rabb

-Democratic State Committee – Local & depends.
Yes to Jon Geeting, Joe Khan, or Mary Louise Isaacson,
No to Darrell Clarke
-Ward Executive Committee – totally local
-Ballot Questions – All: tentative yes

Comments are closed.