Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot Tuesday, but the whirlwind from his presidency could weigh on Pennsylvania voters as they go to the polls.
The top statewide races are to elect judges to the Supreme Court, Superior Court, and Commonwealth Court.
In Philadelphia, voters will choose a new district attorney and controller. In the four collar counties, voters will elect county and municipal officials, school board members, and judges of trial courts. In Delaware County, Democrats are challenging Republican dominance of the County Council in an intense race that in part focuses on Trump.
The race to replace convicted and imprisoned former District Attorney Seth Williams in the city has generated the most attention of the local races. Democrat Larry Krasner, a progressive defense attorney, faces Republican Beth Grossman, a former assistant district attorney.
Krasner rode the outsider wave in the May Democratic primary. He benefited from a $1.66 million investment by the liberal New York billionaire George Soros, who created an independent political action committee to back Krasner — as well as from grassroots support by Black Lives Matter activists and other progressive groups looking for change in the criminal justice system..
Grossman, a prosecutor for 21 years, has garnered support from former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, a Democrat, the Fraternal Order of Police, and others concerned about Krasner’s lack of prosecutorial experience.
In the race for city controller, Democrat Rebecca Rhynhart, a former top official in the Nutter and Kenney administrations, takes on Republican Mike Tomlinson, an accountant from the Northeast. To get there, Rhynhart beat a three-term incumbent by a 3-2 ratio.
While the city controller has immense power to influence the political agenda as the fiscal watchdog for the city, the race has flown under the radar, overshadowed by the hot-button issues of policing and race in the district attorney contest. Rhynhart has promised a collaborative relationship with Mayor Kenney’s administration, while Tomlinson says he wants arms-length oversight.
Philadelphians will also vote on whether to allow the city to borrow $172 million for capital projects.
Two Delaware County Democrats running for County Council are hoping anti-Trump sentiment carries them to a historic win. It’s been four decades since a Democrat has won a seat on the council. Democrats Kevin Madden and Brian Zidek face Republicans John Perfetti and David White, an incumbent.
Delaware County voters will also have to choose a controller, sheriff, and register of wills.
Bucks County voters will select a controller, district attorney, sheriff, prothonotary, and recorder of deeds.
Chester County will be voting for treasurer, controller, clerk of courts, and coroner.
Montgomery County voters will choose judges for various local courts and school boards and municipal boards in some towns.
For state Supreme Court, one vacant seat is up for grabs. Justice Sallie Mundy, a Republican who was appointed to the high court last year, is seeking a full term. She is running against Judge Dwayne D. Woodruff, a Democrat who is on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
Four seats are up for state Superior Court and one judge is standing for retention.
The Democrats: Judge H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr. of Montgomery County, who was appointed the the court and is seeking a full term; Judge Deborah A. Kunselman, administrative judge for the civil division of the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas; Carolyn Nichols, a Philadelphia Common Pleas judge; and Maria McLaughlin, a family law judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
The Republicans: Craig Stedman, the Lancaster County district attorney; Wade Kagarise, a Common Pleas judge in Blair County; Emil Giordano, a Common Pleas judge in Northampton County; and Mary P. Murray, a magisterial district judge in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Also in the race: Jules Mermelstein, a Montgomery County lawyer running as a Green Party candidate.
Four candidates are vying for two seats on the Commonwealth Court.
The Democrats: Ellen H. Ceisler, a Court of Common Pleas judge in Philadelphia and Irene McLaughlin Clark, a Pittsburgh lawyer.
In addition, voters will decide whether to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to enable the legislature to authorize local school boards, municipalities, and counties to exclude the full assessed value of primary residences in their jurisdictions from the property tax.