Closely Watched Pennsylvania Supreme Court Race Goes to Dem

Daniel McCaffery beats Republican Carolyn Carluccio
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 7, 2023 11:17 PM CST
Closely-Watched Pennsylvania Supreme Court Race Goes to Democrat
Daniel McCaffery, Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Supreme Court judge, arrives at his polling place to vote in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Democrat Dan McCaffery won an open seat on Pennsylvania's Supreme Court in Tuesday's general election, preserving a strong Democratic majority on a panel that has produced several critical election-related rulings in the presidential battleground state, the AP reports. The seven-member bench, which will be made up five Democrats and two Republicans, is also at the center of cases on guns and abortion rights—which had a prominent role in the campaign. McCaffery, a judge who serves on a statewide appellate court, beat Carolyn Carluccio, a Montgomery County judge. Justices serve 10-year terms before they must run for retention to stay on the court.

McCaffery, a former Philadelphia judge and prosecutor, had positioned himself as a defender of abortion rights and other rights that he said Democrats had fought for, but were under threat from the US Supreme Court's conservative majority. McCaffery's talk of fighting for threatened rights—and a state-record-smashing amount of money spent on the race—transformed what would have normally been a sleepy judicial campaign into a high-profile affair with a crush of TV ads and fliers stuffing mailboxes. Carluccio conceded the race in a statement and congratulated McCaffery.

McCaffery's victory is the latest for abortion rights proponents in a string of races around the country, including a pivotal state Supreme Court race in Wisconsin where abortion was the top issue. Like in Wisconsin, Democrats in Pennsylvania's high court race focused on the US Supreme Court's decision last year to overturn Roe v. Wade and end nearly a half-century of federal abortion protections—making it a key avenue to attack Carluccio. Two other Democrats won races Tuesday for lower statewide courts. Jill Beck won a seat on the state Superior Court and Matt Wolf won a seat on the Commonwealth Court. The AP had not yet called a race for a second open seat on the Superior Court.

(More Pennsylvania stories.)

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