There were a few surprises on Tuesday night, April 24 as voters chose their party’s candidates for the November election. With few exceptions, in this overwhelmingly Democratic city, local primary winners typically go on to win office in November.
In one closely watched race — the 197th District — J.P. Miranda won in over Jewel Williams, the daughter of Sheriff Jewell Williams.
Miranda won 40 percent of the vote with 2,977 votes. That compared to 38 percent for Jewel, which translated to 2,519 votes.
Miranda will now run against Steve Crum, the Republican, in the Nov. 6 election.
Jewel’s campaign in the North Philadelphia district raised eyebrows because she seemed to rely largely on possible voter confusion between her and her father, who held the seat until January when he resigned to assume the post of sheriff. Jewel campaigned little. Her campaign office was reportedly empty most days.
Miranda had a history of political involvement. He worked for Council President Darrell Clarke and state Sen. Shirley Kitchen. In addition, in 2004 he worked for the John Kerry campaign. He also worked with the administration of Mayor Michael Nutter as it worked to help federal officials with the U.S. Census.
Voters in the 197th District had to choose someone to serve for the remainder of Jewell’s term and decided on Gary Williams over former state senator and perennial candidate for mayor T. Milton Street.
From a party standpoint, perhaps the biggest was an upset was in race for state House in the 182nd Legislative District, which covers much of Center City. State Rep. Babette Josephs, who has held the seat since 1985, lost to newcomer Brian Sims.
The vote was close, with Sims netting about 52 percent of the ballots to Josephs’ 48 percent.
Josephs was co-vice president of the city’s delegation in Harrisburg. She faced frequent challenges in recent years, but managed to hang onto her seat.
That changed Tuesday evening.
According to preliminary results, Sims won with 3,661 votes. Josephs had 3,428.
Barring a write-in challenge from a Republican, Sims should take the seat in the fall as the first openly gay member of the state legislature.
Another widely watched race was the 186th District, which was wide open, with three contenders seeking to fill the seat vacated by City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson.
Former Youth Commission chair Jordan Harris won in a landslide victory – the widest margin seen in the city – with 76 percent of the district’s voters behind him.
Attorney Damon K. Roberts came in second with roughly 20 percent of the vote. He sought the seat before, and lost to Johnson. A third candidate, community activist Timothy Hannah, came in third with about 5 percent of the vote.
There was no Republican in the 186th race, which means Harris should sail through on Nov. 6.
Voters in the 186th also participated in special election, choosing someone to fill out the remainder of Johnson’s term. They chose former state Rep. Harold James, who will return temporarily to the seat he held for two decades.
In most other races across the city, incumbents prevailed – including a contested three-person race in the Northwest section of the city, where state Rep. Rosita Youngblood held on against Malik Boyd and Charisma Presley. Youngblood got 47 percent of the vote, compared to Presley’s 28 percent and Boyd’s 24 percent.
State Rep. James Roebuck also held off a vigorous challenge from newcomer Fatimah Muhammad. The two sparred very publicly over the topic of school vouchers, but Roebuck held on with 56 percent of the vote compared to 44 percent for Muhammad.
Election results remain unofficial until the Pennsylvania State Department verifies them.