HARRISBURG - Pennsylvania's Republican and Democratic Parties yesterday added a Pittsburgh lawyer and a Philadelphia judge to the race for state Superior Court.
Lawyer Jacqueline Shogan, a Republican, and Common Pleas Court Judge John Younge, a Democrat, had been endorsed by their parties in the May 15 primary, but lost. Because of yesterday's votes by the GOP and Democratic state committees, they will compete with the two May 15 nominees from each party. The top three vote-getters Nov. 6 will win seats on the court.
The unusual, post-primary nomination process was set in motion last month when Superior Court Judge Michael Joyce of Erie - under federal indictment on multiple counts of mail fraud and money laundering, and suspended by the state Supreme Court - announced he would retire when his term ends in January.
"Who would have told you on May 16 that I'd be standing here today?" Younge asked at the Democratic gathering in Camp Hill, drawing laughs as he marveled at the unexpected shift in his political fortune. "God moves in mysterious ways."
More than a half-dozen candidates expressed interest in the nominations. But in the end, the only contest at yesterday's overlapping meetings was the Republican showdown between Shogan and State Sen. Jane Earll (R., Erie) at a Harrisburg hotel.
After a roll-call vote that was clearly in Shogan's favor, but before the results could be announced, Earll withdrew, and Shogan was nominated by acclamation.
Shogan, 54, who spent 12 years as a nurse before becoming a lawyer in 1990, attributed her victory to her efforts to reach out to Republicans in all 67 counties.
"They say all politics is local, and you win your votes one person at a time," she said. "I feel like every single person in this room now, regardless of whether or not they voted for me in this process, is my friend now. I've made that kind of effort."
Earll, a 10-year Senate veteran who was the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 2002, was endorsed by party leaders on the eve of the state committee meeting, even though she announced her candidacy only a week earlier.
Earll said Shogan's victory was the product of three years of campaigning and reflected a reluctance among committee members to abandon Shogan abruptly because of the surprise turn of events.
"The support that she garnered when she locked down the endorsement back in February stayed with her," Earll said.
Despite Gov. Rendell's open support for Younge, at least one other Democrat had held open the possibility of competing against him - fellow Philadelphia Judge Anne Lazarus. But she assured state party chairman T.J. Rooney in a letter he read before the committee that she did not want to "cause dissension within the party that I cherish."
Younge, 52, has been a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge since 1995 and previously spent 10 years as a deputy director and general counsel to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.
The other Superior Court candidates are Allegheny County Judge Cheryl Allen and Dauphin County Judge Bruce Bratton, both Republicans, and Allegheny County Judge Ron Folino and Allegheny County lawyer Christine Donohue, both Democrats.
In the November election, Pennsylvanians also will fill two vacancies on the Supreme Court.