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April 27, 2016

2016 Pennsylvania primary: Wrapping it up and looking ahead

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stood as the most prominent winners among Pennsylvania's varied primary elections Tuesday, but the day packed a bevy of down-ballot races that could alter the political landscape at various levels. 

The Democratic ticket for the general election is likely to be topped by two women, thanks to Katie McGinty earning a big win in the race to win the party's U.S. Senate nomination. But longtime Congressman Chaka Fattah's name will not appear on the ballot after state Rep. Dwight Evans ousted him. 

At the state level, longtime state Rep. Mark Cohen is out, but state Rep. Brian Sims survived a primary scare. An open-seat race to replace Attorney General Kathleen Kane could be intriguing come November. 

Here's a brief recap of the biggest news from the primary elections.  

No surprise, Clinton and Trump win primaries

Front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump easily won their respective presidential primary elections.

For the Democrats, Clinton defeated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and among the Republicans, Trump bested Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. 

With victories in several other Northeastern states, Clinton and Trump each moved closer to earning their party's nominations. Trump, however, has a more difficult path forward. Clinton is nearly assured of winning the Democratic nomination.

Afterward, Clinton talked about unifying her supporters and Sanders' supporters for the good of the party.

"Whether you support Sen. Sanders or you support me, there is much more that unites us than divides us," she said. "We are going to come together, and we are going to solve the problems that we face.”

Addressing his supporters in New York City, Trump said Cruz and Kasich "should really get out of the race, and we should heal the Republican Party.”

Read more here.

Philadelphia Traffic Court meets its end 

Tuesday's statewide ballot question asking voters to decide whether Philadelphia Traffic Court should be abolished passed easily. Nearly 60 percent of voters supported the measure, which requires an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution.

The vote actually has little impact except to tie up some loose legislative ends. That's because Philadelphia Traffic Court was shut down about three years ago in the wake of a corruption scandal and a stack of federal indictments. Traffic Court's day-to-day business now falls under the umbrella of the Philadelphia Municipal Court.

In Philadelphia, voters also approved the creation of an independent Commission on African-American Males, which will focus on issues of unemployment, incarceration, lack of education and health among black men. The committee will also advise Mayor Jim Kenney on policy.

Read more on the ballot questions here.

McGinty rolls to win in Democratic Senate primary

In the precursor to a general election race that is likely to draw national attention, Katie McGinty easily topped Joe Sestak to win the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. 

The race was expected to be close, but McGinty beat Sestak by about 10 percentage points. John Fetterman, a small-town mayor inspired by Bernie Sanders, finished a distant third. Sestak was considered the front-runner for much of the race, but McGinty surged up the polls as the election drew near.

Looking to become the first woman elected to represent Pennsylvania in the Senate, McGinty now turns her attention to unseating incumbent Republican Pat Toomey in the general election. The seat is considered one of several Republican seats that could flip Democratic in November. 

Read more here

Fattah loses, ending 11-term congressional reign

In the midst of defending himself against a 29-count racketeering indictment, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was dealt another blow. Fattah was defeated by Pennsylvania state Rep. Dwight Evans in the Democratic primary election for the U.S. 2nd Congressional District.

Fattah has held that seat since 1995, but that will end in January when either Evans or Republican James Jones takes over.

Evans was aided by the endorsements of Gov. Tom Wolf and Mayor Jim Kenney. Read more here.

Shapiro claims Democratic nod for attorney general

The race to succeed embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane is down to two candidates. 

Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners, outlasted a serious challenge by Stephen Zappala Jr. to earn the Democratic nomination for state attorney general. 

Despite Shapiro's local ties, Zappala, the longtime Allegheny County district attorney, drew the support of various prominent Philadelphians, including Mayor Jim Kenney and IBEW leader John Dougherty. (Zappala had backed the state Supreme Court campaign of Dougherty's brother, Kevin, in 2015.)

Shapiro, who was supported by Gov. Tom Wolf, Sen. Bob Casey and Philadelphia Council President Darrell Clarke, will face Republican John Rafferty in the fall. Rafferty, a state senator, easily defeated his opponent, Joseph Peters. Read more here.

Republican congressmen coast to victories

Republicans Patrick Meehan, who represents the 7th Congressional District, and Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents the 8th Congressional District, each beat overmatched challengers. 

Meehan defeated Stanley Casacio to earn a general election rematch with Democrat Mary Ellen Balchunis, a La Salle University professor. The heavily gerrymandered 7th District includes portions of Delaware, Berks, Chester, Montgomery and Lancaster counties.

Fitzpatrick topped former Bucks County Commissioner Andrew Warren and psychologist Marc Dumoe. He'll face Democratic state Rep. Steve Santarsiero in the general election. The 8th District includes Bucks County and a portion of Montgomery County. 

Read more here.

Cohen loses longtime state House seat

Among contested races in Philadelphia, Democrat Mark Cohen, the longest-serving member of the state House, fell to Jared Solomon in the 202nd District, while Democrat Chris Rabb knocked off incumbent Tonyelle Cook-Artis in the 200th District. Incumbent Democrat Brian Sims edged out Ben Waxman in the 182nd District.

In the suburbs, incumbent Democrat Margo Davidson beat Sekela Coles in a competitive race in the 164th District in Delaware County. In the 150th District, located in Montgomery County, Democrat Linda Weaver topped Steven Burda to face Republican Michael Corr in the general election. Incumbent Mike Vereb did not seek re-election.

Full a complete list of local state House results, click here.

Killion wins special election for state Senate

In the suburbs, Republican Tom Killion defeated Democrat Marty Molloy in a special election to fill the vacant 9th District. Dominic Pileggi, now a Delaware County judge, formerly held the seat, which includes portions of Chester and Delaware counties.

In Philadelphia, incumbent Democrat John Sabatina led challenger Kevin Boyle by a 2 percent margin in the Democratic primary for the 5th District. But two precincts had not reported.