Down-Ballot Issues for new PA voters

At this point you’re either firmly With Her or looking to Make America Great Again. This is not an article about the Presidential election, but rather the many other down-ballot contests voters will see in the booths next week. So while you may be ready to elect our nation’s first female or the Wharton school’s first alumni to the presidency, take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of the other issues and candidates.

Will my vote matter?

Of course every vote counts and being able to vote in the democratic process is one of the great honors of being a US citizen. That being said, Philadelphia is as blue a city as they come. Current projections show all races within our city safely in the Democrats’ column. As blue as Philly is, the greater commonwealth can turn bright red. The dynamic between the blue population centers and the larger swath of red land keeps Pennsylvania a perennial swing state. While Clinton’s (D) campaign has made numerous appearances in center city, including last week on Penn’s campus, Trump’s (R) campaign has focused on rallying the base in the middle of the commonwealth and energizing potential voters within the Philly suburbs. When it comes to awarding electoral college votes, electing US senators, and the composition of the state’s legislature, the urban/rural duality makes voter turnout the name of the game. Every vote will certainly count

US Senate

You’ve probably also hear the names Toomey (R) and McGinty (D) a few times given the Pennsylvania senate race has broken all senate race spending records. While Clinton leads Trump by as many as 8 points in the final week, Incumbent Toomey is in a virtual toss-up with his democratic challenger who most recently served as Chief of Staff to current Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf (D). The rhetoric on the campaign has been brutal, with Toomey criticized for not further distancing and denouncing Trump and McGinty criticized for her part in deals some say reek of chrony campitalism.

US House

Longtime representative Chaka Fattah (D) was charged with fraud, racketeering, and many other corruption crimes in 2015 and lost the primary election this past spring. This fall, voters will decide between State Representative Dwight Evans (D) and James Jones (R). Both Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) and Governor Wolf have endorsed Evans, and with the Democrat winning 80%+ of the vote it seems that Philly will be sending Mr. Evans to Washington.

PA Senate, House

Despite the fact Republicans hold a majority of the seats for both houses of congress, both senate and house elections have just one candidate, both are Democrats, and both are incumbents. Your new state representatives will be Larry Farnese Jr. (D) and Brian Sims (D).

Ballot Measure

Beyond candidates, there is one measure on the ballot that would amend the constitution with regards to the mandatory state judicial retirement age.

YES will raise required retirement age to 75

NO will keep the required retirement age at 70

A YES vote would force the retirement of 19 of 1027 judges including Chief Justice Saylor (R) and Justice Baer (D) of the Commonwealth’s Supreme Court. In Pennsylvania, judges are appointed for a single ten year term with a simple Yes/No vote to award an additional 10 year appointment. For comparison’s sake, four of PA’s neighbors have judicial retirement ages of 70 (MD, OH, NJ, NY) while Delaware and West Virginia have no mandatory age. There is wide bipartisan support in favor of passing the measure, along with support from the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Opponents, including the Philly Inquirer, argue if passed this measure would erode basic checks and balances and provide unecessary additional power to the judiciary which has seen scandal of late.


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