Democratic turnout in last week's primary was extraordinary. In Montgomery County, 50,000 Democrats voted, twice the 2013 number. In Delaware County, as many Democrats voted as Republicans, which a party leader called unprecedented. Trump evidently was a factor.
Voter turnout estimates from last week's primary election have shown the Bucks County Democratic Committee members numbers they haven't seen for at least 10 years.
"This is the largest Democratic turnout for an off-year primary since at least 2007," said John Cordisco, chairman committee. "Even when we were in the middle of (George W.) Bush's presidency, we weren't seeing numbers like this."
Flat voter registration numbers and fewer than 150 contested races in Bucks and eastern Montgomery County inevitably translated to a low-turnout primary. Election officials described voters as apathetic or disinterested in the local races.
The Bucks County Board of Elections reported Friday that 11.6 percent of voters registered as either Democratic or Republican had participated in Tuesday's races.
According to BOE Director Deana Dean, the estimated percentages are calculated based on the local race that had the largest number of votes. This year, the county sheriff primary served that role.
Challenger Milt Warrell recorded 24,230 votes, representing 12.25 percent of county Democrats, setting up his general election bid against incumbent Sheriff Edward "Duke" Donnelly, who attracted 20,559 votes, or 10.92 percent of Republicans.
That 3,000 to 4,000 voter gap holds in favor of the Democratic Party farther down the Bucks row office list, including the offices of district attorney, prothonotary and recorder of deeds. Cordisco says the addition of Eric Nagy and Gary Masino Jr. to help with local campaigns helped the county Democrats lead a successful get-out-the-vote initiative.
"Concern with what's happening in Washington definitely was a factor," said Cordisco. "The addition of (the) two full-time staffers within the party played a bigger role." Nagy and Masino, Cordisco said, "are experienced in running campaigns, and they gave more assistance to local organizations."
Democrats came out strong in Montgomery County as well, with 20.42 percent of party voters lining up on Election Day. That's a 4-point advantage over the Montgomery County Republicans, who finished the day with 16.09 percent of that party's registered voters participating.
By comparison, for the 2013 municipal primary, with the same county offices up for grabs, 15.59 percent of registered Republicans in Bucks County came out to vote. The Democrats attracted 11.22 percent of their party's voters that year. The numbers were a little tighter in Montgomery County four years ago, with 11.47 percent of Republicans leading the 10.31 percent of Democratic voters who turned out.
"There's been a rise of participation in all levels," said Cordisco of the Bucks Democrats. "The municipal meetings I've been to around the county have seen a 50 to 100 percent rise in attendance; there's a greater increase in candidates."
Jim Saring, executive director of the Montgomery County Republican Committee, conceded that the Democrats had an elevated turnout in pockets of the county last week. However, he said, Republicans came out strong in competitive races. For example, District Judge Andrea Duffy cross-filed and won the nomination from both parties for her re-election campaign to the Montgomery Township magisterial court.
"Mike Altieri had strong numbers in the district judge race in East Norriton, in a part of the county that's not very strong for Republicans, usually," said Saring. Altieri will face Democrat Marc Alfarano in the fall. Both cross-filed for the open seat, but Altieri earned more Republican votes (1,041) than Alfarano received Democratic (916).
Cordisco says there's little time to bask in the turnout numbers as the Bucks Democrats start back up with fundraising efforts, door-knocking and getting their message out for the general election in November.
Pennsylvania Democrats in Levittown to speak out against House Bill 218 By Tyler Miles, staff writer 1 hr ago 0 Dems speaking out against GOP's budget proposal County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia and the Pennsylvania Democratic Party have big problems with House Bill 218 — the House Republican budget proposal — going as far as to call it “immoral.” Marseglia and Marcel Groen, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, showed up Friday morning at the Bucks County Courier Times’ front steps in the Tullytown section of Levittown to make sure their concerns and issues with that budget were heard and their message dispersed to the public. “It’s incredibly important to get this message out,” Groen said. “Quite frankly, you have a better ability to do that than we do.” One of the issues they harped on most is what they believe to be a de-emphasis on Narcan, the opiate reversal drug. Marseglia added that “one of the most draconian things here — we are in the middle of a heroin and an opioid epidemic, but they’re going to cut Narcan to first responders. “It’s awful,” she continued. “You’re going to do that to families and you’re not going to revive them, but there’s the downhill cost of the children who remain after their parents are lost because the first responders didn’t have Narcan.” Though it’s not exactly a cut, maybe closer to a de-emphasis, in actuality. The budget Gov. Tom Wolf proposed in February includes $10 million to provide the opioid reversal drug, and HB218 does not have that. However, the bill’s sponsor, Stan Saylor, R-York, argued that while there are indeed cuts included in the bill — mostly to tourism and manufacturing — no cuts would hinder first responders’ ability to save lives. In fact, he believes that pouring more money into drug and alcohol programs could in turn have a life-saving effect on those struggling with addiction. “What we really tried to do is focus in this budget exactly what is the need of those neediest in Pennsylvania,” Saylor said. Some of the other issues Marseglia and Groen mentioned were that here in Bucks County there would have to be slashes to staff, courts and programs. Marseglia said HB218 is offensive, too, because it forces her, in a sense, to play the role of the villain. “This budget, one of the things Republicans think is that it’s going to hold the line on taxes or cut taxes, but the reality is they’ve dumped that on people like me,” Marseglia said, referring to the possibility of local tax increases to help offset the proposed budget's cuts. ... See MoreSee Less