The Delaware County Republican Party maintained its hold on its primary electorate yesterday, with endorsed candidates winning nomination for all three county council seats and two slots for Court of Common Pleas judge.
"The experience of the endorsed candidates is what won the day," said Andy Reilly, the departing county council chairman and campaign manager for the three GOP council candidates.
The county's Democratic nominees expressed optimism that this year they have a shot at winning countywide office in November.
"We are at a particular moment in time and history in Delaware County where there is an opportunity to get us out of the dark ages of one-party government," said David Landau, a lawyer and the leading Democratic vote-getter, according to late returns.
The endorsed Republican council candidates who were leading last night were Christine Fizzano Cannon, a lawyer from Middletown Township; Andy Lewis of Haverford, a township commissioner; and Tom McGarrigle of Springfield, also a township commissioner.
The Democrats ahead according to late results were Landau, of Wallingford and Ann O'Keefe of Haverford. According to late results, John Innelli of Rose Valley defeated Rocco Polidoro of Springfield.
With three open positions on council and no incumbents running, each party had six candidates seeking seats on the five-member council.
There has not been a Democrat on council since 1980.
"The Delaware County citizen doesn't know about county government," Polidoro said. "The [Republican] machine the last 30 years kept it quiet."
The county Web site was plagued with problems most of the night and did not begin posting results until after 10:30 p.m. Final results were never posted last night, a failure already criticized by Democrats.
Leading last night in the race for the nomination to run for Court of Common Pleas were Republicans Mary Alice Brennan of Upper Darby and Greg Mallon of Secane, and Democrats Frank Daly of Media and Michael T. Farrell of Springfield. They will run for two open seats on the bench.
"I expect to get elected in November and I expect to make history," Daly said.
In Delaware County, no Democrat has ever been elected to the Court of Common Pleas.
The primary was marked by low voter turnout and those who did cast ballots seemed more interested in Act 1 than candidate races. Act 1 proposes to reduce property taxes by substituting an earned-income tax.
Republican and Democratic candidates had avoided the issue during the campaign.
"It is so complicated I'm not sure anyone totally understands it," said Andy Reilly, council chairman.
Democrats chose not to endorse any of their six candidates; Republican leaders gave the nod to Lewis, McGarrigle and Fizzano Cannon.
Two unendorsed Republicans who ran for council received only a small portion of the vote.
The county has 203,607 registered Republican voters, 134,825 Democratic voters, and 39,266 voters registered as non-partisan or with other political parties. The once-massive Republican registration margin has dropped. In 1970, the GOP commanded 78 percent of the registered voters; this year it has 54 percent.
In the last few weeks, unendorsed Republicans running for council and the court said they had been the target of campaign dirty tricks.
A former Republican committeeman admitted he copied and then altered the Web site of council candidate Rose Izzo of Ridley Township. County community service workers were instructed to remove judicial candidate Richard Cappelli's signs along Baltimore Pike in Concord Township. County officials said Cappelli signs were not targeted.
Creating a more transparent and open government was the top priority for both Democrats and unendorsed Republicans.
Democrats have promised more public discussion on issues before the council and meeting schedules that are more convenient for the public. Meetings are now held on Tuesday mornings and are usually short with unanimous votes.
Preserving open space, creating a county health department, and continuing to oppose the FAA's decision to route more planes over the county were also important issues for candidates.
The endorsed Republicans pointed to how the council had kept taxes in check for three years, promised economic revitalization in the smaller, aging communities.
The losing Democratic candidates were Bob Dimond, the former mayor of East Lansdowne, and Patricia Lewis-West of Chester.
The losing GOP unendorsed candidates were Izzo, Joseph Breslin of Haverford, and Richard Lacey of Springfield.