Democrats see massive turnout boost in primaries

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Tuesday’s primaries settled a handful of races, while setting the stage for the fall election battles, as Democratic turnout was noticeably higher than seen in the same primary four years ago — in part because of high profile primaries for the West Chester Mayoral seat, as well as a hotly contested District Justice race in the Kennett/Unionville area.

While more Republicans cast more ballots in 2017 than in 2013 by a 25,594-22,727 margin, it was Democrats who saw a dramatic spike, going from just 12,402 ballots cast in 2013 to 23,725 this year. Although the GOP maintains a 19,000 advantage in registered voters, Democratic voter activation in what is typically the lowest attended Election Day suggests that the fall county row races may well be in play for the first time in more than a generation, as the county’s independent voters typically do not split evenly between GOP and Democrat support, typically favoring the latter.

In terms of statewide judicial races, Republican Sallie Mundie will face Democrat Dwayne Woodruff for a seat on the Supreme Court. Democratic Superior court candidates Carolyn Nichols, Maria McLaughlin, Deborah Anne Kunselman and Geoff Moulton will face Republicans Wade Kagarise, Emil Giordano, Mary Murray and Craig Stedman this fall. Commonwealth Court Republican candidates Paul Lalley and Christine Fizzano Cannon will face Democrats Ellen Ceisler and Irene Clark.

The county row office races are set — although neither party saw a primary challenge.

Democrat Patricia Maisano will face Republican Jack London for the open County Treasurer seat, while Republican incumbent Norman MacQueen was face Democrat Margaret Reif for Controller. Maria Crosson, a Democrat, will take on incumbent Robin Marcello for Clerk of Courts and GOP Coroner Gordon Eck will seek to hold off a challenge from Christina Vandepol.

In the hotly contested — and at times nasty — race for District Justice in the Kennett area, Republican Jane Donze held off challenges from David Cox, Lorraine Ramunno, and Sean Rafferty to win the GOP nod. Democrat Al Iacocca won the Democratic nod — and between both primaries, was the top vote getter, outpolling Donze 1,688-1,285. The two will face off in the fall.

In another high profile District Justice race in the West Chester area, incumbent Mark Bruno held off a challenge from Democrat Bret Binder to win the GOP nod, while Binder easily won the Democratic nomination. The two will face off in the fall. In District 15-3-05, Scott Massey won both nominations, as did Michael J. Cabry in 15-3-06.

Analisa Sondergaard squeeked past Liz Mercogliano for the Democratic nod in 15-4-03 and won the GOP nomination easily, meaning she will run unopposed in the fall.

In West Chester, Diane Herrin won the Democratic primary for Mayor. No Republican was running, but 348 write-in votes were cast, so it is possible Herrin will face a November opponent.

In a handful of high profile school board races, fall match ups were set, while other candidates found themselves will no opposition. In Coatesville Region I, incumbent director Deborah Thompson lost to challenger Brandon Rhone for the Democratic nomination, but won the GOP nod, running unopposed. The two will run against each other this fall. In Region II, Tom Keech won both party’s nominations, while Niny Rao won the Democratic nod for the other open seat and Tomy Voorhis won the GOP nomination. In Region III, long time director Laurie Knecht was defeated for the GOP nomination by Rob Fisher and Rob Knecht (no relation), while the Democrats voted for Amelia Mills and Brenda Geist.

In Downingtown Region 4, Rebecca Britton won the Democrat nod, while Rodney Simon barely held her off for the GOP nod. The two will face off this fall for the seat.

In Kennett Region A, noted author Mark Bowden won both party’s nod and will run unopposed this fall. In Region B, Kendra LaCosta and Paola Rosas will also run unopposed, after winning both primaries. In Region C, Bill Brown won both primaries, while Heather Schaen won a GOP nomination and will face Democrat Vicki Gehrt.

In Unionville-Chadds Ford, in Region A, Jeff Hellrung and Elise Anderson won both primaries, running unopposed and in Region B, Steve Simonson and Thomas Day did as well. All are incumbents.

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