Five Pennsylvania primaries to watch on Tuesday

Five Pennsylvania primaries to watch on Tuesday
© Wild for Congress

Pennsylvania candidates will face off for the first time under the state’s new congressional map in primaries on Tuesday, as Democrats eye several seats they believe can deliver them the House majority in November.

Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court struck down the old map in January, just months ahead of the May primaries, ruling that the districts were gerrymandered by Republicans. The new lines imposed by the court present several opportunities for Democratic pickups, especially around Philadelphia’s suburbs.


Tuesday also offers an opportunity for female candidates to make inroads and potentially get one step closer to breaking into Pennsylvania’s all-male congressional delegation. Nineteen women are running, across 13 of the state’s 18 districts. EMILY’s List, a major Democratic women’s group, is playing heavily in many of these primaries to aid women who are up against well-funded rivals.

Here are the five primaries to watch in Pennsylvania:

Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 7th District

Outside money has flooded into the Democratic primary for the seat last held by former Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentThe Memo: Never Trumpers sink into gloom as Gonzalez bows out The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Influential Republicans threaten to form new party MORE (R), who resigned from Congress over the weekend.

More than $800,000 has been spent on the primary race for a seat that Democrats think they can win. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE would have won the area encompassed by the new district boundaries by 1 point in 2016

First, though, Democratic candidates must get through a tough primary that typifies the ongoing fight within the party.

Progressives are backing Susan Wild, an Allentown city solicitor endorsed by EMILY’s List, or Greg Edwards, a pastor supported by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks Progressives seething over Biden's migrant policies MORE (I-Vt.).

Meanwhile, Democratic District Attorney John Morganelli is running as a centrist. But Morganelli’s vocal opposition to illegal immigration and previous praise for President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE have made him open to attacks from the left.

After entering the race, Morganelli appeared to delete tweets where he complimented Trump and called progressives “the least tolerant of anyone who disagrees with them,” according to CNN.

Women Vote, the EMILY’s List super PAC, has spent more than $370,000 boosting Wild and opposing Morganelli.

Billionaire mega-donor Tom Steyer’s group, NextGen America, chose the race to make its first foray into primaries this cycle, backing both Edwards and Wild. The group’s $100,000 investment in advertising is aimed at opposing Morganelli.

United Together PAC, which has ties to the bipartisanship-focused group No Labels, is opposing both Wild and Edwards, spending about $350,000 against them.

The Democratic nominee’s Republican opponent will be either Dean Napier Browning or Marty Nothstein in November.

Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 4th District

Former Democratic Rep. Joe Hoeffel has been out of Congress for 13 years, but he’s hoping to make a comeback in an open-seat race that looks very promising for Democrats. Clinton won the district by nearly 20 points in 2016.

Hoeffel cites Trump’s election as his reason to return to politics. On Tuesday, he’ll face off against state Rep. Madeleine Dean, who’s backed by EMILY’s List, and Shira Goodman, a gun control advocate.

Women Vote has spent nearly $250,000 supporting Dean in an effort to help her compete with Hoeffel, who has a name recognition advantage. State Rep. Mary Jo Daley, a former candidate in the 4th District primary, backed Dean’s bid after dropping out herself.

The Democratic nominee is expected to face off against Daniel David — the only Republican running in Tuesday’s primary — but whoever wins the Democratic primary will be heavily favored in November.

Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 5th District

Ten Democrats are vying for the nomination to represent the district once held by Rep. Pat MeehanPatrick (Pat) Leo MeehanBottom line Freshman lawmaker jokes about pace of Washington politics Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress MORE (R), making it the most crowded primary on Tuesday.

The district, left open after Meehan resigned amid sexual misconduct allegations, is seen as another prime pickup opportunity for Democrats in Philadelphia’s suburbs. Clinton narrowly won the old district — but the new district encompasses areas Clinton won by a whopping 30 points, making it an easy Democratic win.

EMILY’s List hasn’t made a formal endorsement, although president Stephanie Schriock has said the group favors former U.S. Assistant Attorney Ashley Lunkenheimer and attorney Mary Gay Scanlon.

A handful of other outside groups have been more involved. The Middle Class PAC, a super PAC supporting the campaign of Philadelphia’s former Deputy Mayor of Labor Richard Lazer, has spent about $1 million on advertising to boost him. Meanwhile, Progress in PA-05, a super PAC backing Lunkenheimer, has spent about $200,000 on behalf of her.

Lazer also got a last-minute boost over the weekend from Sanders, who lauded the Democrat as a supporter of a $15 minimum wage and single-payer health care.

The lack of public polling makes the race difficult to handicap. But one poll from late April found Scanlon and state Rep. Greg Vitali leading the pack.

Republicans have only one candidate running in the 5th District, so the eventual Democratic nominee is expected to square off against Pearl Kim, a former state senior deputy attorney general.

Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 1st District

GOP Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Fifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill Democratic leaders racing toward Monday infrastructure vote MORE was already gearing up for a difficult fight in his suburban Philadelphia district even before redistricting. But the court dealt the congressman a tough hand, shifting his toss-up district toward Democrats — Clinton won the new district by 2 points in 2016.

The new, more favorable district boundaries have set off an intense primary fight among Democrats.

Multimillionaire philanthropist Scott Wallace, a former aide to former Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, has put $2.5 million of his own money into his campaign as he blankets the airwaves with attacks on Trump.

Wallace is facing Rachel Reddick, a former Navy prosecutor who also worked as an advocate for domestic violence victims. Reddick’s campaign is backed by EMILY’s List and Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellDingell fundraises off Greene altercation on Capitol steps Greene heckles Democrats and they fire back on Capitol steps Democrats face full legislative plate and rising tensions MORE (D-Mich.).

Wallace and Reddick have traded blows in the final stretch. He’s taken aim at Reddick’s past affiliation as a Republican, arguing she’s not true blue enough for the party. And Reddick is framing Wallace as a carpetbagger who’s not “one of us,” noting he once lived in Maryland.

Republican primary for Pennsylvania’s 14th District

Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone is looking to make a comeback after his disappointing defeat to now-Rep. Conor Lamb (D) in the closely watched special election in Pennsylvania’s old 18th District in March.

Saccone fell flat in that district under the old boundaries, losing the heavily Republican seat and prompting Republicans to denounce him as a poor candidate who couldn’t fundraise.

Saccone is now running in the new 14th District, which is an even darker shade of red. The new district, which Trump carried by 30 points in 2016, has no incumbent.

In the March special election, Saccone was selected as the nominee at a party convention. But this time, Saccone needs to compete in a primary for the Republican nomination.

Saccone will square off against Republican Guy Reschenthaler — another familiar face in Pennsylvania politics. Reschenthaler, a state senator and Iraq War veteran, vied for the nomination in the March special election in the 18th District, but fell short to Saccone at the convention.

Saccone has the added benefit of winning parts of the 14th District that overlapped with the old district during the special election.

But Reschenthaler, who’s promised to be a “new voice,” has racked up some high-profile support in the match-up against Saccone from GOP Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (Pa.) and the Republican Main Street Partnership.

Democrats are also competing in a four-way primary, but will have a steep climb in trying to win the seat in November.