The Lead

GOP triumphant in Pa. Supreme Court race; leads in three others

By: - November 3, 2021 8:11 am

Republicans look to have swept four open state appellate court seats in Tuesday’s election, as the Associated Press called two races for the GOP overnight, and their candidates lead in two more.

The top prize was an open spot on the influential Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which Republican Kevin Brobson, who is currently president judge of the Commonwealth Court, is projected to win. 

According to unofficial results on Wednesday morning, he leads Democratic Superior Court judge Maria McLaughlin by 131,000 votes, or more than 5 percentage points.

Brobson’s win leaves the ideological balance of the high court unchanged. The Supreme Court is currently divided 5-2, with the majority made up of justices elected as Democrats.

The court has a final say on all legal matters in Pennsylvania, and administers the statewide judicial system.

The seven justices have been called on to rule on Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive powers during the COVID-19 pandemic, election law during the 2020 election, and congressional maps in recent years. The court also could decide on the legality of the state’s education funding levels, mail-in ballots, and mask orders in the future.

The race drew at least $7.7 million in political fundraising, according to Department of State records, much of it from Republican-leaning interest groups.

The AP also called a race for a seat on the state Superior Court for Republican Megan Sullivan.

Sullivan, a former Chester County prosecutor, currently leads Republican Democrat Timika Lane by 293,000 votes, or almost 12 percentage points, according to unofficial results.

The Superior Court handles the appeals of most criminal and civil cases. Among their most famous recent decisions was one tossing out a conviction of Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill.

Meanwhile, in the race to fill two open seats on the Commonwealth Court, both Republican candidates — McKean County attorney Stacy Wallace, and current judge and former legislative staffer Drew Crompton — are leading in a race yet to be called. Crompton leads the closest Democratic candidate, Philadelphia judge Lori Dumas, by 83,000 votes, according to unofficial results.

All judges serve 10-year terms, and are reelected in non-partisan retention elections to subsequent ten year terms. They also must retire at age 75.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.