PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pennsylvania has 8.5 million registered voters with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by 800,000, but it’s the 1.2 million independents who usually make the difference.
On Tuesday, the only statewide election is for Superior Court where two Democrats, Amanda Green-Hawkins and Daniel D. McCaffery, face off against Republicans, Megan McCarthy King and Christylee Peck.
Voters vote for two candidates.
“These statewide appellate court races are regularly sleepy races,” Republican political strategist Mike DeVanney told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.
While Democrats have won recent statewide judicial races, Republicans are optimistic this year because they have two women running.
“Female Republican candidates have done well in the past for these appellate courts,” said DeVanney.
Democratic strategist Nello Giorgetti disagrees.
“I would really be surprised if either of the Superior Court judgeships go to the Republican category this time around,” said Giorgetti.
With 952,000 voters, Allegheny County is the biggest county in western Pennsylvania, and its voters have a chance to elect a new chief executive, a new controller, and a new district attorney.
But strategists in both parties don’t see a lot of interest.
“We’ll be lucky if we hit 25, 30 percent,” said Giorgetti. “There’s really nothing too earth-shattering to bring people to the polls, not even the DA’s race.”
“These are going to be voters who are largely engaged,” added DeVanney. “These are voters who know what they’re doing because they vote all the time, and the base of both parties is certainly going to be out.”
Perhaps 200,000 voters will choose between Democratic Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald and former Republican County Councilman Matt Drozd and between Democratic County Controller Chelsa Wagner and her challenger Republican Brooke Nadonley.
The race with the most attention is between Democratic district attorney Stephen Zappala, who also won the Republican nomination, and his opponent Lisa Middleman, running as an independent.
DeVanney credits Middleman for building left-wing enthusiasm.
“She has spent money, ran television ads, and really if you look at the progressive left of the socialist movement of the Democratic Party that has been very successful in Democratic primaries is heavily engaged in this race.”
But he and Democratic strategist Giorgetti think Republicans will put Zappala over the top.
“I don’t see the district attorney losing tomorrow,” said Giorgetti.
Of course, voters get the final say.
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Besides the Allegheny County races, several counties have heated races for county commissioners.
In Beaver County, where Republicans control, Democrats are trying to make a comeback with Tony Amadio and Dennis Nichols up against Republicans Daniel Camp and Jack Manning.
In Washington County, where Democrats control, Republicans Diana Irey-Vaughn and Nick Sherman hope to upset Democrats Larry Maggi and Harlan Shober.
In Westmoreland County, where Democrats have the courthouse, Republicans Sean Kertes and Doug Chew are trying to beat Democrats Gina Cerilli and Ted Kopas.
“If you look at the counties surrounding Allegheny County – -Beaver County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County — these are counties that have really experienced an electoral sea change,” noted DeVanney.
These are Democratic counties that voted big-time for President Trump, so Republicans have high hopes for Tuesday.
There’s also a ballot question in the city of Pittsburgh to raise property taxes to pay for improvements in the parks.