PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — A young state representative from Philadelphia beat three rivals — including a former congresswoman who is now Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law — to win the Democratic nomination Tuesday for an open seat in the U.S. House.
Early returns showed Brendan Boyle winning the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 13th District, virtually assuring him of becoming the successor to U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a fifth-term Democrat who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nod for governor. The district straddling Philadelphia and Montgomery County is heavily tilted toward Democrats.
Boyle was the only one of the four candidates from Philadelphia.
Marjorie Margolies, who got fundraising help from the Clintons, was looking to recapture the 13th District seat she held from 1993 to 1995 before two rounds of redistricting made the district more reliably Democratic. Voters denied her a second term after she cast a crucial vote for then-President Bill Clinton’s budget plan that increased taxes on the wealthy.
As KYW Suburban Bureau Chief Brad Segall reports, Boyle’s power base in Northeast Philadelphia was apparently too much for Margolies to overcome. Turnout was reported to be on the light side in Montgomery County where Margolies was hoping to get enough support to win the Democratic primary in the 13th District. Surrounded by family, she told her supporters she called Boyle to concede and congratulate him.
“I think it’s terribly important to continue this, to make sure women run. I thank all of you for being here. You were amazing and we’ll be back,” she said.
Margolies ran what many political observers say was a lackluster campaign skipping many debates early on and relying on last minute TV ads with Clinton and apparently name recognition in an effort to get the deal done.
The other candidates were state Sen. Daylin Leach, a champion of the party’s progressive wing; and Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, an obstetric anesthesiologist. Arkoosh topped her rivals in fundraising by taking in more than $1.9 million, even though she was the only candidate in the field with no experience running for elected office.
Leach came in far behind in his battle for the Democratic nod in the 13th Congressional District.
As KYW’s David Madden reports, aides suggested it would take 35 percent of the vote to win. Those suggestions proved to be way off and Leach himself blamed his defeat on a split in the district.
“There were three candidates from Montgomery County. There was one candidate from Philadelphia. The candidate from Philadelphia was very well known and popular and had the institutional support from Philadelphia and we tried hard. We just couldn’t overcome that at the end of the day,” Leach said.
His numbers particularly stunning given he raised almost $1.5 million dollars with little, if any organizational support.
The seat, one of two open U.S. House seats in Pennsylvania this year, is being vacated in January by Schwartz.
On the Republican side, businessman Carson Dee Adcock defeated retired Air Force Col. Beverly Plosa-Bowser. Adcock sought the seat in 2010 but lost to Schwartz.
The district takes in parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. Democrats account for nearly 60 percent of the voters, so a party primary win is likely to ensure success in the Nov. 4 election.
The only other open seat is in the 6th District, which takes in parts of four counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. Six-term Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach is stepping down, and neither the Republican nominee nor the Democrat was opposed in the primary.
Both the former president and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared at fundraisers for Margolies, a longtime NBC news reporter whose son, Marc Mezvinsky, married Chelsea Clinton in 2010.
In her campaign, Margolies cited her experience working with political leaders as both a congresswoman and as founder of a women’s rights nonprofit, Women’s Campaign International. She said Washington needs new voices because at times, “Congress looks very much like a grade-school playground of unruly children.”
Boyle and his brother Kevin are state representatives whose legislative districts lie within the 13th District, providing a unique power base in northeast Philadelphia. A political committee made up of building-trades unions aired TV ads supporting Brendan Boyle.
Arkoosh, a prominent advocate of President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health care law, was endorsed by The Philadelphia Inquirer. She also benefited from radio ads financed by a political committee of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
Leach is a leading advocate for liberal causes in the Legislature, including the legalization of marijuana and the repeal of Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Two incumbent members of Congress faced primary challenges.
In the 14th District near Pittsburgh, Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle withstood a primary challenge from against Janis Brooks, a pastor who heads a social-service agency near Pittsburgh. Doyle, who’s seeking his 11th term, defeated Brooks in the 2012 primary.
Early returns Tuesday night showed seven-term Republican Rep. Bill Shuster with a narrow lead in the 9th District in south-central Pennsylvania.
Shuster faced two GOP opponents in the 9th District in south-central Pennsylvania — Art Halvorson, a retired Coast Guard captain who is now a commercial real-estate developer, and Army veteran Travis Schooley. The district includes Altoona, Chambersburg and Uniontown.
KYW Newsradio’s Brad Segall and David Madden contributed to this report.
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