Pennsylvania elections, 2023

The 2023 Pennsylvania primary election will be held on May 16, 2023. This important election will determine the Democratic and Republican nominees for many statewide offices in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, as well as for the Pennsylvania General Assembly and local offices. Some of the most high-profile races include those for Pennsylvania governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and seats in the State House and Senate.

With control of the governor’s office and legislature up for grabs, the stakes are high in the 2023 Pennsylvania primary. The primary results will set the stage for the November 7 general election and provide insight into the political dynamics shaping the Keystone State.

When is the 2023 Pennsylvania primary?

The 2023 Pennsylvania primary election will take place on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. Polls will be open from 7 AM to 8 PM local time.

This is the date when registered Democratic and Republican voters will cast their ballots to determine each party’s nominees for the various partisan offices up for election in 2023.

Some key deadlines leading up to the primary include:

  • May 1, 2023: Last day to register to vote for the primary election
  • May 9, 2023: Last day to request an absentee or mail-in ballot
  • May 14, 2023: Final deadline for in-person absentee voting

What offices are up for election in the 2023 Pennsylvania primary?

Several important statewide offices in Pennsylvania will be contested in the 2023 primary election:

Pennsylvania governor

The race for Pennsylvania governor tops the ballot, with the winner succeeding term-limited Democratic Governor Tom Wolf. The Democratic and Republican nominees will face off in November.

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Pennsylvania lieutenant governor

Voters will also select party nominees for lieutenant governor, the second highest office in the state. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run on joint tickets in the primary.

Pennsylvania attorney general

The open attorney general seat will see competitive primaries on both sides after the incumbent declined to seek re-election.

Pennsylvania treasurer

The Pennsylvania treasurer, responsible for tax collection and government finances, is open in 2023 after the incumbent reached his term limit.

Pennsylvania auditor general

The auditor general, the state’s financial watchdog, is also an open seat in the 2023 election cycle.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

There are two open seats on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court up for election in 2023. Candidates run in partisan primaries before the top two vote-getters advance to November.

Pennsylvania Senate

All odd-numbered Pennsylvania Senate districts (1, 3, 5, etc.) will hold elections in 2023. Party primaries will determine the nominees.

Pennsylvania House of Representatives

The full 203-member Pennsylvania House is up for re-election. All districts will select Republican and Democratic nominees.

Local offices

Party primaries will also decide many local nominations for county, municipal and school board positions.

Who are the candidates in the 2023 Pennsylvania primary?

The candidate fields remain fluid leading up to the primary, but here is a look at some of the higher-profile races:

Pennsylvania governor candidates

  • Democratic candidates: Current frontrunners include Attorney General Josh Shapiro and state Senator Sharif Street. Other potential candidates include U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, and U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan.
  • Republican candidates: Top candidates include state Senators Jake Corman and Doug Mastriano, former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, and businessman Dave White.

Pennsylvania lieutenant governor candidates

  • The lieutenant governor candidates will be determined by the gubernatorial primaries. Running mates often strategically balance the tickets geographically and ideologically.

Pennsylvania attorney general candidates

  • Democratic candidates: Current contenders include state Rep. Jim Gregory, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr., and Philadelphia City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart.
  • Republican candidates: Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale and former U.S. Attorney William McSwain are running on the GOP side.

Pennsylvania treasurer candidates

  • Democratic candidates: Seeking the Democratic nomination are former Treasury official Joseph Torsella, state Rep. Matt Bradford, and John McGuigan.
  • Republican candidates: Businesswoman Stacy Garrity and former Senate candidate Kathy Barnette are running for treasurer.
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Pennsylvania auditor general candidates

  • Democratic candidates: Nina Ahmad, Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb, and Christina Hartman are running for state auditor general.
  • Republican candidates: Timothy DeFoor, the incumbent auditor general, faces a primary challenge from Rhonda Lee Green.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court candidates

  • There are two open seats, allowing each party to nominate up to two candidates each. Numerous local judges are running statewide.

Pennsylvania Senate candidates

  • All odd-numbered districts will see Democratic and Republican primaries to determine the nominees. Competitive races include District 5, 15, and 37.

Pennsylvania House candidates

  • Every House district will nominate one Democrat and one Republican in the primary election. Some primaries feature intraparty contests.

Local races

  • Local primary races will vary across the state’s 67 counties. They include county commissioner, city council, mayor, district attorney, and school board elections.

What is Pennsylvania’s primary election process?

Here are some key aspects of Pennsylvania’s primary election process:

Open vs closed primaries

  • Pennsylvania has a closed primary system. Only voters registered as Democrat or Republican can participate in their respective party’s primary. Independent voters cannot cast primary ballots.

Primary voting eligibility

  • To vote in a primary, you must be registered to vote by the May 1 deadline and be affiliated with one of the two major parties.
  • First-time voters must be at least 18 years old by the next general election to vote in the primary.

Absentee and mail-in voting

  • All registered voters can now request mail-in ballots for any reason under Pennsylvania law.
  • Absentee voting is also available with approved excuses. The application deadline is May 9.

Voter registration deadlines

  • The deadline to register to vote for the primary is May 1, 2023. You must register as Democrat or Republican to participate.
  • For the general election, the registration deadline is October 9, 2023.

Voter identification laws

  • You must show photo ID to vote at your polling place, such as a valid driver’s license, passport, or certain other approved IDs.

What are the key issues influencing the 2023 Pennsylvania primary?

Some of the top issues that may sway Pennsylvania’s 2023 primary election include:

Economy

  • Jobs, taxes, cost of living, and economic recovery are foremost issues for many primary voters.

Abortion

  • Voters are focused on abortion access after Roe v. Wade was overturned. Candidates’ positions could mobilize turnout.

Education

  • K-12 funding, student achievement, higher education costs, and curriculum debates are ongoing education concerns.
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Crime and public safety

  • Surging violent crime, particularly in Philadelphia, will be a key issue in statewide and local races.

Election integrity

  • Following the 2020 election, GOP candidates are focused on voting rules, election security, and oversight issues.

Environment

  • Climate change, fracking, pollution, and conservation are frequent topics, especially for Democratic voters.

What to watch for in the 2023 Pennsylvania primary results

Here are some key factors to monitor as the Pennsylvania primary results come in on May 16:

  • The margin of victory in the governor primaries will indicate party enthusiasm. A wider margin suggests greater intraparty cohesion.
  • Turnout levels compared to recent midterm primaries will test both party’s engagement. Higher turnout benefits Democrats.
  • The ideological composition of the GOP ticket will provide insight into the direction of the PA Republican Party. Hard right versus moderate candidates.
  • Suburban swing county results will hint at broader November trends to watch. Dem performance in Chester, Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery counties.
  • Which party picks up open seats, like Attorney General and Auditor General, will set expectations for November.
  • Any incumbent state lawmaker defeats would foreshadow anti-establishment unrest among voters.

Conclusion

The 2023 Pennsylvania primary is the first step on the road to the November general election. The May 16 primary will whittle down the candidate fields and officially determine each party’s nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, auditor general, Supreme Court, Senate, and House of Representatives. It will provide telling signs of voter priorities based on turnout and results in high-profile statewide contests and legislative primaries. Both parties have competitive races that will test the appeal of establishment figures against anti-establishment challengers. The composition of the final tickets has major implications not only for the general election but for the future policy direction of this critical presidential swing state.

FAQ

When is the last day to register to vote for the 2023 Pennsylvania primary?

The last day to register to vote for the May 16, 2023 Pennsylvania primary election is May 1, 2023. You must be registered as a Democrat or Republican to participate in the closed partisan primaries.

Who can vote in Pennsylvania’s 2023 primary election?

Only voters registered as Democrats or Republicans can vote in Pennsylvania’s closed partisan primaries on May 16, 2023. Independent voters cannot participate. You must register by May 1 to be eligible for the primary.

How can I vote by mail in the 2023 Pennsylvania primary?

All registered voters can request mail-in ballots for the May 16, 2023 primary election in Pennsylvania. Absentee voting is also available if you provide an approved excuse. The deadline to apply for an absentee or mail ballot is May 9, 2023.

Do I need to show ID to vote in Pennsylvania’s 2023 primary?

Yes, Pennsylvania has voter ID laws requiring voters to show approved photo identification such as a valid driver’s license, passport, or certain other accepted IDs to cast ballots at their polling place.

Who are the current frontrunners for Pennsylvania governor?

Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the current Democratic frontrunner while state Senator Doug Mastriano and former U.S. Representative Lou Barletta lead the Republican primary field in early 2023 polling for the open Pennsylvania governor’s race.

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