With just a week left before the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Pennsylvania, all eyes are on Tom Wolf.
Months of candidate strategizing and fundraising get put to the test today as voters conduct the one poll that actually counts: the Pennsylvania primary elections. Follow the story here all day.
Update 4:29 p.m. Civic duty draws life-long voters out to the polls, despite light numbers and shenanigans reported in some areas. WHYY/NewsWorks reporter Elizabeth Fiedler visited some voting locations out in Jenkintown this afternoon.
Standing outside the polling place at Jenkintown High, Careleton Schwager said, "I'm particularly hoping that Valerie Arkoosh gets in because I like to see women in politics." Schwager says voting is a civic duty, "If you listen to the news and what goes on in the world you have to realize how fortunate we are to be able to vote. And I certainly have done it I think ever since I was 21." That includes primary elections.
Jenkintown resident Bob Rohde and his wife came out to vote at Jenkintown High School. He says, "I can't imagine not voting."
His wife, Mary Kay Rohde says, "It's a civic duty. How can you complain when you haven't made a statement about who you think should be running the government and what should be done?" Rohde voted for Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz for Governor. "I like what she had done in Congress…sorry to lose her"
Bob Rohde says of top concern for him in this election, are the races for Governor and Congress. "They're all good people. It was a very difficult choice therefore." Rohde says he will support whoever wins the Democratic nomination, even if it's not the candidate he voted for because he's eager not to see Corbett re-elected. "I've already told friends, the day after the election - whoever wins the [Democratic] race for Governor is gonna get a check from me." He says he is concerned by Corbett's education funding.
Update 2:59 p.m. Turnout remains uninspiring during the Pennsylvania primaries today, but that has not quelled all controversy about Election Day shenanigans in Philadelphia.
Dissident Democratic committee candidates in Roxborough's 21st Ward were upset by a court order saying that some of their campaign materials posted near polling places had to be taken down. They suspected the hand of 21st Ward leader Lou Agre, whose control of the ward they are challenging.
Turns out the court order is real, signed by Philadelphia Commons Pleas Judge George Overton. An election court employee confirmed the legitimacy of the order to WHYY/NewsWorks reporter Elizabeth Fiedler this afternoon.
Joe Driscoll, one of the dissident candidates, called the judge's order "ridiculous." The text of the order does not explain the reasoning behind it, but Driscoll said he understood the claim to be that the materials were printed by a political action committee that was not registered in Philadelphia. He said that he's contacted a lawyer to challenge the ruling, and in the meantime is getting the materials reprinted.
We're running down other allegations of polling place irregularities and will report on them here once we have facts nailed down.
11:27 a.m. Voter turnout was light at Philadelphia polling places this morning.
WHYY/NewsWorks reporter Elizabeth Fiedler toured some voting locations in the Second Senate District, which has one of the more competitive state legislative races in the region.
The Rev. Israel Alfaro, a volunteer for state Rep. Angel Cruz, said things were slow this morning at the Congreso polling place at American and Somerset.
"A primary, not too many people come out in the day. I'm waiting on the evening," he said. He says the neighborhood faces typical challenges including drugs and crime. "It's like everywhere in this neighborhood."
Donald Briggs voted at the Somerset Villas polling place: "I'm just trying to support the local Committee person, try to change the neighborhood. It's hard times but we're going to overcome."
He is a volunteer for state Sen. Tina Tartaglione, being challenged in the primary by a candidate backed by union power broker John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty.
Also, this reminder for independent voters in Philadelphia. Even though the Democratic and Republican parties are holding primary elections that are restricted to their registered voters, independents have a right to vote on ballot questions and on the special election for the at-large Council seat to replace Bill Green Jr., who left Council to lead the School Reform Commission. Candidates in that election are Democrat Ed Neilson, Republican Matt Wolfe and Libertarian Nikki Allen Poe.
A NewsWorks web producer who tried to vote this morning at a South Philadelphia polling place was told by "the very nice ladies" at the table that she couldn't vote because she was "unaffiliated."
She stood her ground (if you knew her, you would not be surprised) and explained that she wanted to vote in the special Council seat election.
Happy ending: She got to cast her ballot.
Moral of the tale for Philadelphia independents: Know the rules, know your rights and insist on being able to vote on the ballot questions and the Council election.
10:23 a.m. Asian-American voters in Philadelphia are not thrilled with what they see as a lack of response to their complaints from the City Commission about lack of help for them at Philadelphia pollings places.
This became a major Election Day polling place theme during the 2012 election.
Check out this report by Emma Jacobs of WHYY/NewsWorks.
9:48 a.m. Months of candidate strategizing and fundraising get put to the test today as voters conduct the one poll that actually counts: the Pennsylvania primary elections.
Check back here through the day and night for updates on the situation at the polls, turnout reports, then after polls close at 8 p.m., the election results. Also, beginning at 8 p.m., listen to our live election reports on WHYY-FM, hosted by Dave Heller with senior writer Dave Davies providing analysis.
If you're an independent and live in Philadelphia, you can still vote today on several ballot questions, including one that would end the "resign to run for new office" rule for Philadelphia elected officials and one that would increase minimum wage for employees of city subcontractors, particularly at the airport.
Scenes from the polls
In Philadelphia's Roxborough section, Dave Henderson is a rarity: A Democrat challenging a Democratic incumbent. He's challenging state Rep. Pam DeLissio for the 194th District seat.
Henderson's first stop of the morning was Roxborough High School, from which he graduated in 2003.
"We're hoping for a good turnout, we're hoping for everyone to get out there and vote," he said.
DeLissio, seeking a third term, survived a court challenge to her candidacy. Some voters questioned her residency in the district, because she'd changed her driver's license and other documents to her Harrisburg address.
Here's what's at stake today
In our region, Democrats have the most high-profile race with a four-way primary for the right to challenge Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in the fall.
While longtime Philadelphia-area Rep. Allyson Schwartz was an early front-runner in the race for the Democratic nomination, York businessman Tom Wolf has surged to a lead in the polls, fueled by ads bankrolled by at least $6 million of his own money. Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord has also struggled to overcome Wolf's lead, despite having won election to a statewide post. Former Department of Environmental Protection secretary Katie McGinty has been a distant fourth place in the polls.
Corbett did have a challenger in Ardmore businessman Bob Guzzardi, but a judge ruled the challenger had not filed protocols for submitting all the paperwork necessary to get on the ballot and ruled Guzzardi should not be in the GOP primary. With Guzzardi no longer a threat, the Corbett campaign has been producing ads attacking Tom Wolf, even before the primaries are done.
The Democrats running for Schwartz's seat in Congress (Pennsylvania's 13th District, covering much of Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia) are locked in a tight contest. The race includes Marjorie Margolies — who held the seat two decades ago, only to be bounced from office partially because of an unpopular vote in favor of then-President Bill Clinton's budget. However she's been helped out by both Hillary and Bill Clinton in the campaign, which is the the family thing to do, since Margolies' son is married to Chelsea Clinton.
Sen. Daylin Leach, who represents parts of Delaware and Montgomery Counties and proudly refers to himself as the "liberal lion" of the Pennsylvania Senate, is touting his endorsements from teachers unions and national progressive groups. First-time candidate Dr. Valerie Arkoosh is running on her role advocating for national healthcare legislation. Rep. Brendan Boyle of Philadelphia has been campaigning as a rowhouse populist, criticizing all his opponents as "millionaires," though he has managed to drop $100,000 of his own money into his campaign.
There are many other state legislative races worth watching, such as whether indicted state Sen. LeAnna Washington, who serves parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, will win the nomination again despite being charged with using her legislative staff for political fundraising duties. Two other Democrats are trying to beat Washington for the nomination. Rep. J.P. Miranda is accused of setting up a ghost employee on his staff so he could funnel money to his sister, who would have been barred from working there because of nepotism rules. He has three challengers.
Philadelphia has long been thought of as anti-choice — in the electoral sense, that is. It's a one-party town, and many city Democrats running for the General Assembly also don't face opposition in primary elections.
So it will likely come as a surprise to Philadelphia voters that they'll have more options at the polls Tuesday than in past years.
In the Philadelphia suburbs, two political newcomers say they're ready to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.
The Democrats are competing to represent residents of Bucks and Montgomery counties in the 8th District.
Hosted by WHYY's senior political reporter, Dave Davies, this special takes a statewide look at the Pennsylvania primary election coming up on May 20. It's a collaboration of WITF in Harrisburg, WPSU in State College, WESA in Pittsburgh and WHYY in Philadelphia.
A Democrat, a Republican and a Libertarian are each running in a special election for an at-large representative to City Council.
Philadelphia voters will have the chance to decide whether to allow an exclusive club of city employees some new flexibility when it comes to running for public office.