In the 1st District, which extends from the airport to Port Richmond between the Schuylkill and the Delaware, incumbent Larry Farnese is facing a primary challenger for the first time.

His opponent, Nikil Saval, is a smart, impressive newcomer.

Farnese gets our endorsement, because he has the experience and track record that this uncertain moment demands. A member of the Democratic leadership team, Farnese, 51, has been a progressive voice that has advocated for workers in his district. With a strong record on reproductive and LGBTQ rights, Farnese received the endorsements of Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign. He is a co-sponsor of a plan to transition the state to 100% renewable energy by 2050, though it is worth remembering that Republicans won’t even advance a severance tax. In 2017, Farnese was acquitted by a jury of federal corruption charges.

Larry Farnese during the zoom endorsement meeting with The Inquirer's Editorial Board and reporter Chris Brennan. The Editorial Board is separate from the newsroom. Since endorsement meetings are on the record, reporters are allowed to sit in.
Screenshot
Larry Farnese during the zoom endorsement meeting with The Inquirer's Editorial Board and reporter Chris Brennan. The Editorial Board is separate from the newsroom. Since endorsement meetings are on the record, reporters are allowed to sit in.

Farnese is taking a role in developing plans for contact tracing and further testing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. He also introduced legislation to extend the eviction moratorium until after the crisis and ensure paid leave for workers.

His opponent deserves attention. Saval, 37, has a PhD in English from Stanford and is a widely published writer. He has big ideas for structural change to promote equity and transition Philadelphia to green economy.

If elected, Saval would be a political newcomer in an entrenched and divisive General Assembly – which means the city could lose valuable ground during a time of crisis. Saval should keep pursuing office, especially in the city, where he could have impact.

The 2020 Pennsylvania primary was once one of the most anticipated, with high stakes in the presidential race. Now, due to COVID-19, an early end to the Democratic presidential primary, and a rescheduled date, it’s easy to forget that there is an election. This primary is still important, setting up the November matchups between Republicans and Democrats for critical positions in our state government. These include General Assembly seats and three statewide offices: Attorney General, Auditor General, and Treasurer. There are also two city charter amendments on the ballot (our recommendations for these will appear this week.)

The key date in this primary, however, is not June 2. It’s Tuesday, May 26, at 5 p.m., the deadline for requests for mail-in ballots.