Wolf landslide seen as tempering Democratic turnout
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
A number of closely watched races from the governor down to local state legislative races thought to be competitive turned out to be blow outs Tuesday — as Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell won the Democratic nod for State Representative in the 74th District and Cuyler Walker won the Republican nomination for State Representative in the 158th, as Tom Wolf dominated his Democratic opponents to storm to the nomination to face Gov. Tom Corbett in the fall.
Turnout around the county was weak, with just 13.07% of Republicans voting and 18.49% of Democrats casting ballots Tuesday — although it appeared Democratic turnout would be stronger, Wolf’s giant lead in the polls (which turned out to actually understate his electoral performance) appeared to have kept some supporters of Allyson Schwartz and Rob McCord away from the polls.
Maxwell cruised to an easy win in the 74th, winning 59.76% of the vote over Caln Commissioner Joshua Young. He will face Republican Harry Lewis, Jr. in the fall election.
The Young-Maxwell battle was heated — and it appeared that every vote was being fought for. At a Valley Township polling location at Rainbow Valley Elementary School, Maxwell and State Sen. Andy Dinniman were stumping for the Downingtown Mayor, while Chester County Democratic Committee Chair Michele Vaughn and Valley Township Board of Supervisors chair were working on behalf of Young. Voters had to face a gauntlet of pitches for “the two Joshes” which left more than few confused about who to vote for in the election.
“I am humbled by the outpouring of support I received, and I am proud to be the Democratic nominee,” Maxwell said in a statement Wednesday. “Yesterday’s results were a vindication of the progress we have made as a community and our message of strengthening our schools, growing our local economy, and securing social justice for all. I want to thank all my supporters and volunteers who worked so tirelessly to make this possible.”
In the 158th District, things were bit more sedate, as Walker outpaced Roger Howard, winning 61.59% of the vote. The East Marlborough Township Supervisor will face Democrat Susan Rzucidlo, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, to replace the retiring State Rep. Chris Ross in November.
Walker attributed his success to those who volunteered on his behalf over the last few months.
“The results of the election reflect a team effort in which many people worked hard over the last few months and in particular at the polls on election day, and I am very grateful to the campaign volunteers for all their efforts and to voters for their support,” he said.
Elsewhere, polls were largely quiet, as voters trickled in during the day — the only busy times appeared to have been before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m., and even then, light turnout appeared to be the rule.
In the only other contested primary in the county, Democrat Tom Houghton easily outpaced Raja Kittappa, garnering 63.57% of the vote in the two-county 16th Congressional District, to earn the right to run against Republican U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts in the fall. While Houghton won the Lancaster portion of the district by a solid 8,588 to 6,833, in Chester County the former London grove supervisor and State Representative won 93.22% of the vote — getting 3,780 votes to Kittappa’s 255.
Elsewhere on the ballot, there were few surprises, all incumbent legislators won their respective nominations and there no other primary battles in the county.
In the 13th State House District, State Rep. John Lawrence won the GOP nomination and will face Democrat Ann Schott in the fall. In the 26th District, State Rep. Tim Hennessey won the Republican nod to run again, while Democrats had no candidate on the ballot.
In the 155th District, State Rep. Becky Corbin won the GOP nomination, while it appears that Democrat Jim Burns, a Spring City Borough Council member, was successful in his write-in campaign to win the Democratic nomination, as some 629 write-in votes were cast.
In the 156th District, State Rep. Dan Truitt was renominated by Republicans and will face Democrat Sandra Snyder in the fall. In the 157th District, State Rep. Warren Kampf won the GOP nomination and will face Democrat Marian Moskowitz in the fall election.
In the 160th District, State Rep. Steve Barrar won his bid to seek a ninth term in the house. The Republican will take on Kennett Square Democrat Whitney Hoffman in November.
In the 167th, rumors of a late write-in campaign to unseat State Rep. Duane Milne turned out to be just that, as the Republican pulled just under 97% of the vote, Tuesday. He’ll face Democrat Anne Crowley in November.
No surprises in the two state Senate races in the county, either, as Republican Thomas McGarrigle won the GOP nomination and will face Democrat John Kane this fall in a bid to replace the retiring Sen. Ted Erickson in the 26th Senate District.
Sen. John Rafferty won the Republican nomination for another term in the state Senate from the 44th District. He will face Democrat and current County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone in the fall election.
No drama in the county’s uncontested U.S. Congress races, either. In 7th, U.S. Rep Patrick Meehan, a Republican, will face Democrat Mary Ellen Balchunis. In the 6th, Republican County Commissioner Ryan Costello, a Republican, will take on Democrat Manan Trivedi in a bid to replace the retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach.
In the only non-partisan vote on a Chester County ballot, voters in West Pikeland approved a township library tax by a 287-192 vote.