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Democrats keep their 1-seat Pa. House majority

Plus, more primary election results.

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A daily newsletter by The logo of Spotlight PA, an independent, nonpartisan newsroom producing investigative journalism for Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen

Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Election results, rural declines, DuBois fallout, transgender care, downtown living, and a map of Pennsylvania news deserts. Welcome to Wednesday.

Democrats will maintain control of the Pennsylvania House after winning a special election in Delaware County. 

The Associated Press called the race for Democrat Heather Boyd, a former congressional and legislative staffer, just before 11 p.m. Tuesday. Boyd defeated Katie Ford, a behavioral therapist and U.S. Army veteran, in a closely watched contest that attracted national attention and big-name endorsements

The special election fills the seat formerly held by state Rep. Mike Zabel (D., Delaware), who resigned in March after multiple people, including a union lobbyist and a Republican state House colleague, accused him of sexual harassment. 

The AP said the race could be a gauge of how voters are feeling in a crucial region of a crucial state ahead of next year's presidential contest.

COURT RESULTS: Establishment candidates had a good night in primaries for Pennsylvania’s three appellate benches, setting up what could be contentious, well-funded races to fill seats on the state Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth Courts this November.

The race for an open seat on Pennsylvania’s highest court will pit Democrats’ chosen candidate, Philadelphia’s Daniel McCaffery, against Republican favorite Carolyn Carluccio of Montgomery County.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Pa. election results: Carluccio, McCaffery win Supreme Court primary, will advance to November general

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"It's nuts that our next mayor could be someone who receives 25% (or less!) in the Democratic Primary."

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.) taking issue with how Philly mayors are chosen and calling for ranked-choice voting and all registered voters to be included, since the winner of the Dem primary is all but assured to win it all

POLICING VS. TREATMENT: Join us Thursday, May 25 at 6 p.m. ET for a free panel on how Pa. wants to spend a $1B opioid settlement, the policing versus treatment debate, and how Pennsylvania's spending plans compare to other states'. Register here and submit questions to

Dandelion, via @mar_sees_life at Crow's Nest Preserve in Chester County. Have a photo you want to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
A closeup of a dandelion.
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Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.ELECTION RESULTS: In Allegheny County, progressive state Rep. Sara Innamorato won the Democratic primary for county executive, WESA reports. Across the state in Philadelphia, the AP late Tuesday projected that former City Council member Cherelle Parker had won a crowded Democratic primary for mayor. If Parker wins in November, she will be the first female mayor of the city. 

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.OUTMIGRATION: Rural Pennsylvania lost nearly 85,000 residents from 2010 to 2020 as deaths continued to outpace births, The Bradford Era reports, citing a new Center for Rural Pennsylvania study. The Center found an 8% decline in the number of people of childbearing age in rural counties and concludes that in-migration is paramount, as some suggest rural America's revival depends on immigration

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.PRESS PAUSE: Sandy Township is headed to court to seek a formal pause of its consolidation with neighboring DuBois after the latter's city manager was arrested for stealing more than $600,000 in public funds, the Courier Express reports. Township officials are citing "financial uncertainty" in DuBois in the wake of the charges against Herm Suplizio as a reason. Read Spotlight PA's coverage of the theft case.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.BUDGET BALK: Spotlight PA's Stephen Caruso reports the hardline Pennsylvania Freedom Caucus, via state Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R., Lawrence), wants three state-related universities with health networks to say how many trans children they treat and the cost of gender-affirming care ahead of budget talks. You may recall last year's threat to withhold university funding over fetal tissue research

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.OFFICE SPACE: With cities nationwide working to convert offices to housing to revive pandemic-slowed downtowns and business districts, Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority has approved a $300,000, 0% interest loan to a developer for just that purpose. Pittsburgh dedicated $2.1 million in stimulus funding for its downtown office conversion program, and this is the program's first loan. 

LABOR FORCE: The governors of New Jersey and Pennsylvania want to form an interstate task force to address wage theft and worker misclassification, and collaboratively enforce each state's labor laws.

STRIKE-READY: Strike school is in session on May 20 and June 3, when the AFL-CIO Philadelphia Council will train union members and leaders in "how to get strike-ready, fight hard, and win big." 

NEWS DESERTS: Pennsylvania has two counties without a newspaper and 18 with only one. Use the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media's news deserts tool to learn more about your local media landscape.

TRANSIT TOUR: Will Taylor Swift alone save America's pandemic-battered public transit systems? Probably not, but Governing reports her Eras Tour is providing a well-timed boost in places like Philly.

DUO'S TAQUERIA: Tech company Duolingo, maker of the world's most popular language learning app, is branching out and opening a full-service Mexican restaurant and bar next door to its Pittsburgh offices.

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