Joe Hohenstein wins the Democratic primary in the 177th Legislative District
By Tom Waring
Joe Hohenstein handily won the Democratic primary in the 177th Legislative District, taking 37 percent of the vote in a four-way race.
Hohenstein, an immigration lawyer, joined supporters — including state Rep. Jared Solomon — at the Harmonia Club in Bridesburg.
“I knew we’d be outspent, but I wasn’t worried about not being on TV or billboards,” he said. “This was a difficult race.”
Hohenstein, who fielded congratulatory calls from his three opponents, is making his second bid for the seat. He took 45 percent of the vote against Rep. John Taylor in 2016. Like last time, he enjoyed support from the Service Employees International Union.
Hohenstein thanked ward leaders Dan Savage, Peg Rzepski and Connie Dougherty and his campaign team, including lots of volunteers. In the general election, Hohenstein will face community activist and former city parks director Patty-Pat Kozlowski, who was unopposed on the Republican ticket.
“I’m looking forward to November,” Hohenstein said. “I’ve walked the streets for two years. You can have a positive, unifying message. I won this the right way. We need to have a unified party to win in November.”
Kozlowski spent the day handing out Stock’s pound cake at polling places and the night at the United Republican Club.
“I’m such a from-the-neighborhood, for-the-neighborhood candidate. I’m really looking forward to it,” she said of the race against Hohenstein. “Joe’s a smart guy. He showed that at the debate. And, I thought, ‘Why doesn’t he run for Congress,’ with some of the issues he was talking about. I’m the ‘ham and cheese,’ ‘wooder ice,’ ‘worked at the park in the summer’ neighborhood candidate, so, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Sean Kilkenny finished second with 24 percent of the vote, just ahead of Maggie Borski. Dan Martino captured 15 percent.
Kilkenny, a union plasterer, had most of the union support. He outspent his opponents on television ads and mailings. He greeted supporters at the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 39.
“It was not an easy race,” he said. “There were four quality candidates in the race to make the district better. We were running on good issues important to the 177th district. Everyone worked hard.”
Kilkenny pledged to support Hohenstein. He was elected a 64th Ward committeeman and expects to serve under a new ward leader, Pete McDermott.
Borski, who’ll be graduating from Temple University School of Law on Thursday, was endorsed by EMILY’s List and targeted women voters as part of her campaign. She has a familiar last name, as her dad, Bob, was a congressman for 20 years. She spent election night at the Bridgeview Cafe in Bridesburg.
“Thank you everyone here. Sorry we couldn’t get the win, but I’m incredibly proud of what we accomplished. I mean, two kids that haven’t even graduated law school yet convinced over a thousand people to vote for us,” she said.
“She did everything humanly possible to win this race. She did it on herself by knocking on more doors than anyone can ever dream of, she did it with putting together a great team with Nick,” said Bob Borski, referring to campaign manager Nick Elia. “It takes an enormous amount of courage to put your name on that ballot. What she did and put herself and subjected herself to in the unfortunate realm of what our politics are today and it’s just nasty and rotten and nobody wants to go through it, but my daughter did and I am so proud of her.”
Martino, a community activist, did not have as much money as his opponents. He welcomed family, friends and backers, including former 170th district candidate Matt Darragh, to the Green Rock Tavern on Lehigh Avenue.
“I feel incredible. I’m blown away,” he said. “I only had $4,000. This was my first foray into politics. I did better than expected with the resources I had.”
Martino, who brushed aside an earlier suggestion from Hohenstein that he drop out of the race, said he will not make an endorsement in the general election.
Taylor, a Republican first elected in 1984, is not seeking another two-year term.
The 177th District includes Bridesburg, Northwood and portions of Frankford, Wissinoming, Port Richmond, Tacony, West Mayfair, Holmesburg, Holme Circle and Lexington Park.
There are eight other state House districts that include portions of Northeast Philadelphia, but only one had a contested primary.
Rep. Jason Dawkins (D-179th dist.) defeated Abu Vincente Edwards, 76 percent to 24 percent, in the Democratic primary. No Republican filed.
Republican Rep. Tom Murt will face Democrat Daryl Boling in the general election in the 152nd District.
Rep. Martina White (R-170th dist.) will face Democrat and fellow Parkwood resident Mike Doyle, a Realtor.
Democratic Reps. Kevin Boyle, Mike Driscoll, Ed Neilson, Jared Solomon and Isabella Fitzgerald were unopposed in the primary and have no Republican opponent in the general election.
The new 2nd Congressional District featured a Democratic primary contest between Rep. Brendan Boyle and Michele Lawrence.
Boyle won, 64 percent to 36 percent.
The underfunded Lawrence campaign handed out an “Official Democratic Ballot” listing her name right under Gov. Tom Wolf.
Boyle will face Republican David Torres. Torres invites the public to his official campaign announcement on Monday, May 21, at 7 p.m. at Holmesburg Recreation Center, at Rhawn and Ditman streets.
State Sen. Tina Tartaglione (D-2nd dist.) was unopposed in the primary. Republican Elijah Myers needed 500 write-in votes to earn a spot on the general election ballot, but appears to have fallen far short of that number.
In the race for U.S. Senate, two-term Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. was unopposed in the primary.
Casey will face U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, who defeated state Rep. Jim Christiana, 64 percent to 36 percent. Barletta had the state party’s backing.
Gov. Tom Wolf was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
State Sen. Scott Wagner won the Republican nomination with 46 percent of the vote, followed by Allegheny County businessman Paul Mango with 36 percent and Allegheny County lawyer Laura Ellsworth with 18 percent. Wagner had the backing of the state party.
There were five Democrats running for lieutenant governor.
Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, a former state senator from Somerton, trailed badly with 17 percent of the vote, finishing fourth. John Fetterman, mayor of the tiny borough of Braddock, won with 39 percent. Nina Ahmad, a former Philadelphia deputy mayor, was second with 23.7 percent, followed by Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone with 17 percent. Raymond Sosa, a human rights activist and former emergency management executive, took 3 percent.
Wolf did not make an endorsement.
Wagner supported businessman Jeff Bartos for lieutenant governor, and Bartos won the Republican nomination with 48 percent of the vote.
Small business owner Kathy Coder was second with 20 percent.
Mango teamed up with Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan, who was third with 17 percent.
Longtime conservative activist Peg Luksik took 15 percent.
Ellsworth did not make an endorsement.
Philadelphia voters decided on three proposed amendments to the Home Rule Charter. Voters approved questions funding the Police Advisory Commission, adding language to the way the new Board of Education operates and requiring sexual harassment training for city employees.
John Cole and Melissa Komar contributed to this story.