THE PARTY-ENDORSED candidates for two openings on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held leads in yesterday's Democratic and Republican primaries.

In a four-way race among Democrats, Superior Court Judge Seamus McCaffery of Philadelphia had 33 percent of the vote and Superior Court Judge Debra Todd of Butler County had 31 percent, with nearly half of the state's precincts reporting.

C. Darnell Jones, the president judge of Philadelphia, was in third.

In the three-way Republican contest, Superior Court Judge Maureen Lally-Green of Butler County had 42 percent of the vote and Mike Krancer of Montgomery County, the former chief judge of the state Environmental Hearing Board, had 36 percent.

Endorsements seemed not to matter in the nomination contests for two openings on the Superior Court.

On the Republican side, the only candidate not endorsed by the Republican State Committee - Allegheny County Judge Cheryl Allen - led a three-way race with 35 percent. Dauphin County Judge Bruce Bratton had 34 percent and Westmoreland County lawyer Jacqueline Shogan had 31 percent.

The only Democratic candidate to win the party's endorsement - Philadelphia Judge John Younge - was far back in the field of seven candidates. Allegheny County lawyer Christine Donohue led with 23 percent, followed by Philadelphia Judge Anne Lazarus with 20 percent.

In all the races, the top two vote-getters will earn spots on the November ballot.

For the party faithful, there was no shortage of choices. Seventeen candidates - more than twice the number of nominations at stake - were listed on the parties' statewide ballots for the Supreme Court vacancies and two more on the Superior Court.

The nomination contests for Supreme Court garnered the most attention. Nearly all the candidates used paid TV to appeal for support near the end of a primary campaign in which they collectively raised more than $2 million.

Jones enjoyed the support of Gov. Rendell and was endorsed by the state's two largest newspapers over McCaffery.