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Progressive pick Wild wins Dem primary for Pa. House seat

Progressive pick Wild wins Dem primary for Pa. House seat
© Wild for Congress

Allentown, Pa., city solicitor Susan Wild is projected to win the Pennsylvania Democratic primary for the House seat last held by former Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentMidterms put GOP centrists in peril House GOP group cuts financial support for Coffman, Bishop GOP House candidate placed on leave from longtime position after sexual misconduct allegation MORE (R), capping a primary race that earned heightened attention for highlighting the ongoing divides in the Democratic party.

Wild defeated pastor Greg Edwards and District Attorney John Morganelli for the Democratic nomination for the seat. The Associated Press called the race shortly after 11 p.m., with Wild leading with 32.9 percent. Morganelli followed with 30.5 percent, with Edwards in third with 25.5 percent. 

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The primary became a hotbed of activity for outside groups, with more than $800,000 spent in the race. Six Democrats ran in the primary, but three emerged as leading candidates representing different factions within the Democratic Party.

Progressives backed either Wild or Edwards during the primary. EMILY’s List, a major Democratic group that aims to elect women who support abortion rights, active in the race on Wild's behalf.

Meanwhile, Edwards won an endorsement from Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBooker holds 'Get Out the Vote' event in South Carolina as presidential speculation builds The Democratic Donald Trump is coming Biden: Trump administration 'coddles autocrats and dictators' MORE (I-Vt.), who joined the Pennsylvania Democrat on the campaign trail to highlight his support for progressive issues.

Morganelli, who ran as a centrist, came under fire from progressives for his vocal opposition to illegal immigration. He also took some heat for previous praise for President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE, but he appeared to delete tweets where he complimented Trump and criticized progressives as “the least tolerant of anyone who disagrees with them,” according to CNN.

Still, Morganelli's supporters believed a candidate with his background would make for a more competitive nominee against a Republican in November.

The EMILY’s List super PAC, Women Vote, spent more than $370,000 to oppose Morganelli. EMILY’s List is expected to help push Wild over the finish line in November, with the hopes of breaking into Pennsylvania’s all-male congressional delegation.

Wild also got a lift from billionaire mega-donor Tom Steyer’s group, NextGen America, which poured in $100,000 on advertising aimed at blocking Morganelli. NextGen partnered with Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania on a digital campaign and direct mail opposing Morganelli.

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

Wild will be slightly favored going into the November election. After court-ordered redistricting remade the House district boundaries, the new district became slightly more Democratic. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US Republicans cancel airtime in swing Vegas district The Democratic Donald Trump is coming MORE won the areas encompassed by the new seat by 1 percentage point in 2016.

Wild will face either Dean Napier Browning or Marty Nothstein, both Republicans, in November.