Democrats Win Pennsylvania’s Statewide Judicial Races

In purple Pennsylvania, Democrats better mobilized their voters and swept all statewide judicial races.
Democrats Win Pennsylvania’s Statewide Judicial Races
Commonwealth Court headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., Jan. 7, 2023. (Beth Brelje/ The Epoch Times)
Beth Brelje
In purple Pennsylvania, Democrats mobilized their voters better and swept all statewide judicial races in this off-year election. Pennsylvania results are considered unofficial until the votes are certified, which takes days.

Justice of Supreme Court

Daniel McCaffery. (Courtesy McCaffery campaign)
Daniel McCaffery. (Courtesy McCaffery campaign)

In the Pennsylvania Supreme Court race, the state’s highest court, Democratic candidate Daniel McCaffery, received 54 percent or 1,632,786 votes compared to Republican candidate Carolyn Carluccio with 46 percent or 1,386,150 votes as of 11:30 p.m. according to Pennsylvania Department of State results.

Mr. McCaffery is currently a Superior Court judge; Ms. Carluccio is currently the president judge of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.

Carolyn Carluccio. (Courtesy Carluccio campaign)
Carolyn Carluccio. (Courtesy Carluccio campaign)

Mr. McCaffery will fill the seat left vacant by former Democratic Chief Justice Max Baer, who died in September 2022, just months before turning 75, the mandatory retirement age.

The state Supreme Court remains majority Democrat, with five Democratic justices and two Republicans.

Mr. McCaffery largely used pro-abortion attack advertisements against Ms. Carluccio, who opposes abortion.

In recent years, contested procedural issues relating to elections have been heard by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The court may be called on again to settle such disputes, making the balance of the court an important factor in state and national politics.

The annual salary for a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice is $244,793.

Judge of Superior Court

In the Pennsylvania Superior Court, voters chose between four candidates, two Republican and two Democratic, for two seats. The court’s 15 seats are currently comprised of seven Republican and seven Democratic judges plus one vacancy.

Voters were filling a vacancy and naming a replacement for Republican Judge John T. Bender, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 this year.

With the addition of two Democratic judges, the court balance will be eight Democrats and seven Republicans.

The annual salary for a judge of the Superior Court is $230,974.

From top vote-getters to lowest, here are the results in the superior court race as of 11:30 p.m.

Democrat Jill Beck, 28 percent or 1,556,844 votes. Ms. Beck is a Pittsburgh attorney working in commercial litigation.

Democrat Timika Lane, 26 percent or 1,416,924 votes. Ms. Lane is a judge on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. She previously ran for Superior Court in 2021.

Republican Maria Battista, 23 percent or 1,307965 votes. Ms. Battista was previously assistant general counsel for the Pennsylvania health and state departments. She has been a prosecutor in Franklin and Venango Counties and was a contract specialist for the Department of Defense until she left that job to run for office.

Republican Harry F. Smail Jr. had 22 percent or 1,207,523 votes. Mr. Smail has been a Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas judge since 2014.

Judge of Commonwealth Court

Democrat Matt Wolf had 53 percent or 1,584,372 votes. Mr. Wolf has been a judge on the Philadelphia Municipal Court since 2017. He worked as a trial attorney for 25 years at various firms. Mr. Wolf joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 2003, where he served as an officer, and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. On deployment, he was a legal advisor to the U.S. Army.

Republican Megan Martin received 47 percent or 1,403,561 votes. Ms. Martin is a Widener University law school graduate, former parliamentarian of the state Senate, an attorney for former Governors Tom Ridge and Tom Corbett, and an attorney for the U.S. Navy.

The Commonwealth Court judge earns $230,974 annually.

Pennsylvanians also chose local judges for both the county Court of Common Pleas and the Magisterial District (MD).

In Pennsylvania, the local MD judge does not have to have a law background to hold the position, and at an annual salary of $106,254 a year, it is a sought-after political position when seats come open. This judge handles criminal arraignments of major crimes and noncriminal small claims court. Each county has multiple MD judges.

When an MD judge believes police have presented enough evidence to hold someone over for court, the accused makes a plea—guilty or not guilty—and they next go to the Court of Common Pleas in the county where they are charged. Common Pleas judges are paid just over $230,000 annually. They hear jury trials in criminal and civil matters.

Those who wish to appeal lower court decisions go to Superior Court in criminal and civil matters.

The Commonwealth Court handles civil actions brought by and against the state and appeals from state agency decisions.

Beth Brelje is a national, investigative journalist covering politics, wrongdoing, and the stories of everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances. Send her your story ideas: [email protected]