Democrats sweep Pa. Supreme Court race

 Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge-elect Kevin Dougherty is surrounded by family at his post-election party at the Stagehands Union Hall in South Philadelphia. (Brad Larrison/for NewsWorks)

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge-elect Kevin Dougherty is surrounded by family at his post-election party at the Stagehands Union Hall in South Philadelphia. (Brad Larrison/for NewsWorks)

It was a good night for Pennsylvania Democrats, who swept all three open seats on the state Supreme Court, flipping its partisan control.

Tuesday’s election potentially secures the Democrats’ hold on the state’s high court for the next eight years. Voters elected David Wecht, Kevin Dougherty, and Christine Donohue over Republican rivals Judy Olson, Mike George, and Anne Covey, as well as independent candidate Paul Panepinto.

Dougherty, who has drawn criticism because his brother John is the head of the influential and free-spending Local 98 of the electricians union made no apologies in his victory speech. “At this very moment, with all my heart, I have never been prouder to say I am Kevin, comma, brother of John Doc,” he told supporters.  He went on to pledge to be independent, promising “you’ll never have a more leveled playing field.”

The race saw enough spending to smash state and national records, with trial lawyers and labor unions giving Democrats a big money edge.

Democrats scored victories in the other two appellate Pennsylvania court elections as well. For Superior Court, Democrat Alice Beck Dubow beat Republican Emil Giordano. For Commonwealth Court, Democrat Michael Wojcik won over Republican Paul Lalley.

Republicans had one significant win on Tuesday, in a special election for a western Pennsylvania state Senate seat, won by Guy Rescenthaler, bringing the Senate GOP majority to 31 seats, with the Democrats holding 19.

WHYY’s Tom MacDonald contributed to this report.

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