Ron DeSantis’ endorsements fell flat in the Florida and Kentucky elections on Tuesday while progressives swept moderate Democrats in nearly every key primary race in Pennsylvania except the Philadelphia mayoral primary.
DeSantis’ Picks Lose in Kentucky and Florida
- The Governor of Florida and likely 2024 candidate endorsed Republican Daniel Davis in the election for mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, Jacksonville is Florida’s largest city and until Tuesday was the most populous city in the US with a GOP mayor.
- Davis lost his bid to succeed term-limited GOP Mayor Lenny Curry to Democrat Donna Deegan, who will become Jacksonville’s first female mayor.
- DeSantis also backed GOP megadonor and former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft in the Republican primary for Governor of Kentucky. Despite heavy self-funding, Craft finished a distant third behind state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and the eventual winner, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron.
- Cameron, a Mitch McConnell protégé who was also endorsed by former President Donald Trump, will now take on popular Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in the general election. Cameron would become the first Republican African American governor of a US state since Reconstruction should he win in November.
A Pro-Police Candidate Wins in Philadelphia
- Tuesday also featured Pennsylvania’s primary elections for many local and state offices, including hotly contested Democratic primaries for Philadelphia Mayor and Allegheny County Executive.
- Besides running America’s sixth largest city, the Mayor of Philadelphia is the second-most-powerful politician in the Keystone State after the governor.
- Cherelle Parker, a longtime Philly pol who pledged to put hundreds more police officers on the street to fight rising crime and use the stop-and-frisk policing strategy, defeated four other major candidates to secure the Democratic nomination.
- Parker’s victory ended a big-city win streak for progressives, whose preferred candidates won high-profile races in Los Angeles and Chicago in recent months. Progressive darling Helen Gym finished in third place behind Parker and City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart.
- Parker, who would be Philadelphia’s first black female mayor, is heavily favored over the GOP candidate, at-large city councilman David Oh, in November’s general election.
Progressives Romp in Western Pennsylvania
- Progressives had a much better night in western Pennsylvania. State Representative Sara Innamorato, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, won the Democratic nomination for Allegheny County Executive, Pennsylvania’s second-most populous county, with less than 40 percent of the vote.
- Innamorato got her start by defeating the scion of a prominent political dynasty in a 2018 Democratic primary for the state House.
- Considered the most powerful post in the state west of Harrisburg, the county executive is the top official in the county of 1.2 million people encompassing Pittsburgh and its suburbs.
- Three-term executive Rich Fitzgerald, a moderate Democrat, was term-limited and couldn’t run again.
- Two moderate candidates, county treasurer John Weinstein and City of Pittsburgh controller Michael Lamb, the uncle of former Congressman and failed Senate candidate Conor Lamb, split the anti-Innamorato vote, allowing her to cruise to a relatively easy victory.
- Down the ballot, progressive Matt Dugan defeated longtime moderate district attorney Stephen Zappala in another victory for the left.
- Dugan, the county’s chief public defender, ran as progressive prosecutor vowing to reduce prosecutions for “low-level non-violent criminals,”
- Zappala said he would likely run as a Republican in November, calling the Democratic primary “halftime” in the race for District Attorney.
- Republicans haven’t won a countywide election since 1999, so Innamorato is favored in the general election over Republican nominee Joe Rockey, a former bank executive.
- However, Innamorato’s left-wing views and Zappala’s likely run as a Republican will add more uncertainty to November’s general election than there’s been in more than two decades.
- The New York Times reported “Republicans have long viewed Mr. Cameron as a potential political star who could join the next generation of the party’s leaders. Mr. Cameron has had a trailblazing career — he was the first Black man to be elected attorney general in Kentucky and the first Republican elected to the post in 50 years — and his campaign is likely to draw the support of operatives and donors beyond Kentucky.”
- CNN highlighted a victory for mainstream Republicans in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court race. Republicans backed suburban Philadelphia Judge Carolyn Carluccio over Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, who briefly halted the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results in 2020 and was backed by Doug Mastriano, who suffered a humiliating double-digit defeat in last year’s race for governor. Carluccio will face Democrat Daniel McCaffery in the open-seat race for the seat formerly held by the late Chief Justice Max Baer, a Democrat.
- Politico emphasized a similar victory for mainstream Republicans over election fraud-promoting conspiracy theorists in the GOP primaries in Kentucky. Secretary of State Michael Adams crushed Stephen Knipper, a prominent activist in the state who promoted theories that the 2020 election was stolen. “Kentucky Republicans rejected those who malign our county clerks and poll workers with conspiratorial nonsense,” said Adams in a statement after his win.
- The New York Post called the Kentucky GOP gubernatorial primary “essentially a proxy battle between the two 2024 GOP presidential frontrunners,” Trump and DeSantis. DeSantis only weighed in hours before the polls closed with an audio ad backing Craft, but it was too little, too late.
- National Review reported that after a brutal GOP primary Cameron, the newly minted Kentucky gubernatorial nominee, has less than $500,000 left in his campaign account compared to Beshear’s $7 million. Republican and Democratic outside groups are expected to spend heavily.
- Fox News covered Democrats’ victory in a special election for the PA House of Representatives that kept the state House narrowly in their hands. Democrat Heather Boyd won the race for a Democratic-leaning seat in the Philadelphia suburbs after the incumbent resigned over sexual harassment allegations, preserving Democrats’ 102-101 majority.
© Dominic Moore, 2023