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Democrat Susan Wild Wins Pennsylvania Primary for Dent’s Seat

She turns back challenge from more conservative rival John Morganelli

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent opted not to seek re-election and resigned from the House last week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent opted not to seek re-election and resigned from the House last week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Allentown City Solicitor Susan Wild won the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 7th District on Tuesday, besting a more conservative Democrat who was seen as one of the front-runners. 

With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Wild had 33 percent of the vote when the AP called the race. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli,who opposes abortion rights and so-called sanctuary cities, trailed with 30 percent, while pastor Greg Edwards had 25 percent. 

The GOP race between Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein and businessman Dean Browning was too close to call at press time. With 100 percent of precincts reporting. Nothstein was ahead by 308 votes.

Liberal groups, including one backed by billionaire Tom Steyer and EMILY’s List, waged a last-ditch effort to prevent Morganelli from winning the six-way Democratic contest. Besides his more conservative stances, he also once appeared to make multiple appeals to President-elect Donald Trump for a job in his administration

EMILY’s List spent $367,000 on television ads against him and on direct mail and television ads boosting Wild.  

A veteran lawyer, Wild said in an interview last month that while she is a progressive, she could also appeal to moderates as “the grown-up in the room.”

The Lehigh Valley-based 7th District is a top Democratic target, especially after it became more competitive under the new congressional map imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The court threw out the old map in January, ruling it was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander.  The 7th is the successor district to the old 15th, previously represented by GOP Rep. Charlie Dent, who resigned last week. President Donald Trump carried the old seat by 8 points in 2016, though under the new lines, the district would have backed Hillary Clinton by 1 point. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election contest Tilts Democratic

Watch: Which House Races Are the Parties Targeting? Look to the Money, the TV Ad Money

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