Republicans dominate Carbon row offices, elsewhere locally
While Democrats were celebrating election victories in the Lehigh Valley, suburban Philadelphia and Virginia and Kentucky, they were shell shocked in Carbon, Schuylkill and Monroe counties.
The GOP carried every contested countywide battle in the three counties, with one exception. The lone Democratic victory came in the Monroe commissioners race where Democrats will control the three-member board come January as incumbent Republican Charles Garris placed fourth behind fellow Republican incumbent John Moyer and the two Democrats.
In the 17 other races — six each in Carbon and Schuylkill and five in Monroe — Republicans prevailed. Voter registration figures favor Republicans in Schuylkill by a wide margin and in Carbon by an ever-growing number, but Democrats enjoy a voter-registration edge in Monroe, yet could not parlay it to make any inroads on the major row offices on this year’s ballot. All five Monroe incumbent Republicans won another four-year term in their competitive races.
In the Carbon Republican sweep, incumbents Joann Behrens, a 40-year veteran of the prothonotary’s office, and recently appointed Clerk of Courts Fran Heaney were defeated. They were unseated by Republicans Kayla Semmel and Tyra Boni, respectively. Donna Gentile will become the new recorder of deeds after defeating Bill Richards, who was appointed to fill the ballot position of the late Emmett McCall. The Republicans maintained control of the commissioners office.
In the contest to fill the seat of the retiring and long-serving controller, Democrat Robert Crampsie, Mark Sverchek turned back Thomas T.J. McCall.
Perhaps the biggest shocker was in the district attorney’s contest, where 2,700 votes separated Democrat-turned Republican Michael Greek and incumbent Jean Engler, who was seeking a second term.
Greek had been Engler’s chief assistant. Deciding to run against his boss and changing parties to do so earned him a demotion. Courthouse observers wonder what the next eight weeks will be like in the office with the boss having become a lame duck while the upstart underling is on the cusp of becoming the boss.
The Democrats still have three row officers in Carbon. Sheriff Anthony Harvilla and Coroner Robert Miller Jr. were unopposed on Tuesday and won new four-year terms.
Democratic Treasurer Ronald Sheehan and Republican Register of Wills Jean Papay still have two years left of their four-year terms.
While this Republican love fest was going on in three of the Times News counties, Democrats were striking gains in Lehigh and big wins at the top of the ticket in Northampton.
Democrats John Morganelli, the current long-serving district attorney, and Abe Kassis captured the two seats on the Northampton Court of Common Pleas, while Morganelli’s chief assistant in the DA’s office, Terry Houck, handily defeated Republican Tom Carroll to move into the DA’s top spot after Morganelli moves to the bench in January. Tony Bassil won the controller’s office over Republican Hayden Phillips.
Republicans did manage to win all three county council seats that were contested, including District 4, the one that contains Walnutport and Lehigh Township. Tom Giovanni easily outdistanced Democrat Dan Engle, 8,683 to 5,693.
Republicans also maintained control of many of the boards of supervisors in some of the rural townships. An exception was in Lehigh Township, where Democrat Michael McGonigle flipped the seat now held by Republican board chair Darryl Snover, who was defeated in the primary by Gerald Pritchard.
In Lehigh County, Democrats swept all four at-large seats on the Board of Commissioners and, in the process, sent Republican incumbents Marty Nothstein, the board chair, and Brad Osborne packing. The Democrats also flipped the controller’s office with Mark Pinsley defeating incumbent Republican Glenn Eckert.
Both Democratic city mayors, Sal Panto in Easton and Ray O’Connell in Allentown, easily won their contests. Democrats also maintained control of the city councils in both cities as well as Bethlehem. Democrats made inroads in previously impenetrable suburban counties, taking most row offices in Delaware County and winning the commissioners office in Bucks County for the first time in more than 35 years.
Does any of what happened on Tuesday have any bearing on the likely outcome of next year’s presidential race? Assuming President Trump is the Republican candidate, I predict he will take Schuylkill and Carbon; almost any Democrat will win in Lehigh; a Democrat is likely to win in Monroe and Northampton, but it might depend on whom the Democrats nominate. If the candidate is viewed as leaning too far left, both counties could be up for grabs.
By Bruce Frassinelli | email@example.com