In the Democratic primary race for two Commonwealth Court seats, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Lori Dumas, Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David Spurgeon, and former Allegheny County Council member Amanda Green-Hawkins were all neck and neck, with a lead over Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Sierra Street.
There are two Republican candidates for the two seats, though one is a relatively rare judicial incumbent running in a partisan election. Drew Crompton, an attorney and former top Senate GOP aide, was appointed to the court by Gov. Tom Wolf to fill a vacancy in 2019. He now has to run for reelection to win a full 10-year term.
Republican Stacy Wallace, a Bradford attorney, is running for the second open seat.
The four ballot questions
Every registered voter in Pennsylvania had a chance to weigh in on four ballot questions: three constitutional amendments and a referendum.
Two are contentious. They would make it harder for a Pennsylvania governor to enact and maintain an emergency declaration, and as of midnight, “yes” votes for both of them were leading “no” votes by about 10 points.
Both amendments are the culmination of more than a year-long power struggle between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled state legislature. Specifically, one would allow state lawmakers to overturn a disaster declaration by majority vote and, according to the Attorney General’s office and Senate Republicans, leave a governor with no option to veto it. The other would limit future disaster declarations to 21 days. Pennsylvania law currently allows declarations to last up to 90 days at a time, an outlier compared to other states. The Wolf administration has extended the one dealing with COVID-19 four times since the pandemic began.
The other two amendments, in contrast, were on track to pass easily.
One would update the state constitution to specifically ban racial and ethnic discrimination. Both state and federal law already prohibit the practice in nearly every legal arena, but the Attorney General’s office described the measure as a failsafe against any future discriminatory state or federal laws.
The other is a referendum asking voters to allow the state’s 94 paid and volunteer/paid combination fire departments to apply for loans to help with equipment and apparatus purchases.
Constitutional amendments virtually always pass Pennsylvania’s statewide referendum votes. Since the 1960s, just two have failed.
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