Allegheny Co. Dems split the difference on 2023 primary endorsements

In a break from the committee’s typically traditional picks, several progressive candidates got the nod

By: - March 6, 2023 4:29 pm
A week out from Election Day, outside groups have reported spending $7.7 million on behalf of Democratic and Republican candidates. (Photo by Daniella Heminghaus for the New Jersey Monitor)

(Photo by Daniella Heminghaus/New Jersey Monitor)

PITTSBURGH — The Allegheny County Democratic Committee has released its slate of endorsements for the May primary elections. Several progressive candidates got the nod in a break from the committee’s typically  traditional picks.

The committee endorsed longtime Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein for Allegheny County Executive. Weinstein received 545 votes, compared to progressive state Rep. Sara Innamorato D-21st District, who received 457 votes, and Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb, who received 391 votes. Attorney Dave Fawcett received 17 votes. 

Those four were the only candidates for county executive who paid the $7,500 fee to seek the committee’s endorsement. Long-serving County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is term-limited out of office and cannot seek re-election. 

Allegheny County Councilor Liv Bennet said on Twitter last month that she had not sought the endorsement and criticized the fee structure as “an example of how public office has been designed for people of means and not those who are impoverished or the working class.” 

The committee overwhelmingly endorsed progressive challenger Matt Dugan as its pick for Allegheny County District Attorney; he received 820 votes to incumbent Stephen Zappala’s 578 votes. And progressive incumbent county councilor at large Bethany Hallam, a longtime critic of the ACDC, won the endorsement with 819 votes to challenger Joanna Doven’s 553 votes.

The endorsements aren’t binding but appear on a card sent to registered Democrats in Allegheny County. The county party’s endorsements are still sought by many Democrats in the county, despite the often hefty filing fees, and lingering questions about how meaningful the recommendations are to voters. 

In the May 2022 primary, the committee endorsed the opponents of incumbent state Reps. Summer Lee, Jessica Benham, and Emily Kinkead; but all three were reelected. Lee has since been elected to Congress.

In heavily blue Allegheny County, Democrats who win their local primary elections nearly always win the general election in November. This year’s primary election will be held May 16.

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Kim Lyons
Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications. Follow her on Threads @social_kimly