By Peter Jackson
The Associated Press
HARRISBURG — The Republican party won the biggest political plum on Pennsylvania’s 2013 election ballot — an open seat on the Superior Court — but Democrats won more of the major local offices up for grabs.
The GOP’s Vic Stabile, a corporate lawyer in Harrisburg, defeated Allegheny County Judge Jack McVay Jr., the Democratic nominee, for the Superior Court spot with nearly 52 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns Tuesday.
Rob Gleason, the state Republican chairman, hailed Stabile’s victory, saying the court “will certainly benefit from his integrity, determination and judicial philosophy characterized by ‘equal justice under law.’”
Meanwhile, voters in five Pennsylvania cities elected Democratic mayors and heavily Democratic Philadelphia re-elected its district attorney and controller.
Mayors-elect included City Councilman Bill Peduto in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s second-largest city; local businessman Eric Papenfuse in the fiscally troubled state capital of Harrisburg; and tax collector Bill Courtright in Scranton.
Incumbent mayors Rick Gray in Lancaster and Kim Bracey in York were re-elected handily, as was fellow Democrat Elizabeth Goreham in the borough of State College.
Philadelphia voters re-elected District Attorney Seth Williams and city Controller Alan Butkovitz in two of the hundreds of races for local offices, school boards and judgeships that were decided across the state on Tuesday.
State Democratic Chairman Jim Burn said his party’s candidates won “by presenting a message of strengthening the middle class and growing our economy” and “a monumental grassroots effort to defeat (Republican Gov.) Tom Corbett next year.”
In the Superior Court race — the only statewide contest on the ballot — McVay said Tuesday night he was “proud of the positive campaign that I ran.” Stabile did not return a phone message seeking comment late Tuesday.
Stabile, who raised nearly twice as much money as McVay, put up a TV spot late in the campaign that implied nepotism was involved in the hiring of McVay’s fiancee and sister-in-law by the Allegheny County court.
McVay called the claim untrue and a state bar panel asked Stabile to take down what it considered a misleading ad, but Stabile left it on the air.
Four state appellate judges who ran unopposed for “retention” on the bench were approved by voters for additional 10-year terms: State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille and Justice Max Baer and Superior Court judges Susan Gantman and Jack Panella.
Campaign finance reports showed Baer raised almost $425,000, mostly in the closing weeks of the campaign, to finance TV ads despite the absence of any opponent.
Baer’s campaign treasurer said the ads were designed to counter potential anti-incumbent backlash among voters angry over the recent partial shutdown of the federal government.