HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pittsburgh
's incumbent mayor conceded the primary election to challenger Ed Gainey
, who would become the city's first Black mayor if he won the general election in November.
Bill Peduto, a Democrat, was running for re-election to a third term against three primary challengers, but instead called to congratulate Gainey, a five-term state representative, and tweeted, “Wishing him well.”
Gainey was almost certain to win in November in the heavily Democratic city because he had consistently made the campaign about equality for Black and poor residents, accusing Peduto of failing to ensure equity in policing, housing
, and other areas. At one point, he referred to Pittsburgh as "a tale of two cities."
In an otherwise quiet off-year primary election that also included balloting for an open seat on the state's highest court, Pennsylvania voters
were given the opportunity to limit a governor
's emergency authority, more than a year after Gov. Tom Wolf's pandemic
restrictions drew fierce backlash from legislative Republicans
Voters of all stripes, including independents, were allowed to cast ballots on four issues, two of which stemmed from Republican lawmakers' dissatisfaction with Wolf's, a Democrat, handling of his authority during the COVID-19
It was the first such vote since the coronavirus
outbreak, as Republicans in nearly every state sought to limit governors' authority during disasters.
The top-of-the-ticket race for Republicans was an open state Supreme Court
seat, with three Republican candidates vying for the nomination, while the Democratic candidate ran unopposed.
Voters also decided whether to include race and ethnicity civil rights
protections in the state constitution.
The polls closed at 8 p.m., but voters in line at that time could still vote.
ANNOUNCEMENTS OF DISASTER
The two questions concerned constitutional amendments that would give lawmakers far more authority over disaster declarations, regardless of whether the emergency was caused by another pandemic or a natural disaster.
They asked voters to terminate a governor's emergency disaster declaration after 21 days and to give lawmakers sole authority to extend or terminate it at any time with a simple majority vote.
The current law allows a governor to declare an emergency for up to 90 days and to extend it indefinitely, but the constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote of lawmakers to end the declaration.
The change was opposed by Wolf.
Voters were to decide whether to amend the constitution to make discrimination based on race or ethnicity illegal.
It is believed to be the first time voters have been asked to weigh in on a racial equality issue on a statewide ballot since last summer's protests over the police
killing of George Floyd
If it is approved, it will be the fourth equality provision in the constitution, joining "all men are born equally free and independent," a prohibition on discrimination in exercising civil rights, and a 1971 amendment ensuring gender
COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE SUPREME
Paula Patrick, a Common Pleas Court judge in Philadelphia
, and two Commonwealth Court judges, Kevin Brobson of Cumberland County and Patricia McCullough of Allegheny County, were the three Republican candidates in a contested primary.
Brobson was endorsed by the state Republican Party
and has a significant advantage in campaign spending, thanks in large part to more than $275,000 from a business
advocacy group funded by suburban Philadelphia billionaire Jeffrey Yass.
A Superior Court judge, Democrat Maria McLaughlin, ran unopposed for her party's nomination.
The winner of the November election will take over for retiring Justice Thomas Saylor, a conservative whose departure will leave the court with one Republican and five Democrats
A 10-year term is followed by an up-or-down retention election.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATION
In four special elections
, voters chose candidates to fill vacancies in the state Legislature, two in the Senate
and two in the House of Representatives
The elections will not change the balance of power in the 253-member Legislature, where Republicans control both chambers by wide margins.
Democrats were expected to keep a Senate seat in Lackawanna County, while Republicans were expected to keep another in Lebanon County.
Republicans were expected to keep their House seats in Westmoreland and Armstrong counties.
LOANS FROM THE FIRE DEPARTMENT
A fourth ballot question asked voters if they wanted 22 municipal fire departments in Pennsylvania to have access to a 45-year-old low-interest loan fund that assists 2,000 volunteer firefighting squads in borrowing money
to pay for trucks, equipment, and facilities.
The state fire commissioner's office is in charge of managing the fund.
OTHER COURTS OF APPELATION
Democrats had a choice between three candidates for an open seat on the Superior Court, which hears criminal and civil appeals from county courts.
Timika Lane, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge, and Bryan Neft, a suburban Pittsburgh lawyer, and Jill Beck, a Pittsburgh lawyer, were the candidates.
Megan Sullivan, a Republican, ran for the nomination unopposed.
Meanwhile, Democrats chose between four candidates for two open seats on the Commonwealth Court, which hears lawsuits and appeals involving state and local governments.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge David Lee Spurgeon and lawyer Amanda Green
Hawkins were competing, as were Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judges Lori Dumas and Sierra Street.
Drew Crompton and Stacy Wallace, both Republicans, were unopposed.