HARRISBURG - State Rep. Mark Cohen, a Philadelphia Democrat and the state's longest-serving legislator, was defeated in Tuesday's primary, according to unofficial election results.
Cohen, elected in a special election in May 1974, lost to community organizer Jared Solomon in the 202nd District, in the city's Lower Northeast. It was Solomon's second attempt to unseat Cohen, whom he nearly ousted in the primary two years ago.
Cohen, one of the legislature's most liberal Democrats and the son of the late Philadelphia City Councilman David Cohen, said late Tuesday that he had been "victimized by a highly negative campaign."
He said that included accusations that he spent too much time Harrisburg and not enough time solving problems in his district - two assertions he vigorously denied.
"I am a good legislator," said Cohen, who has supported raising the minimum wage, passing antidiscrimination legislation, and legalizing medical marijuana. "I've always tried to serve the public interest, and I'm very proud of my record."
Cohen was one of several lawmakers from Philadelphia and its suburbs facing tough challenges in this primary. All 203 seats in the House are up for grabs, as are half the 50 seats in the Senate. Republicans hold commanding majorities in both chambers, and this year's election was not expected to change that.
But there were several efforts, particularly on the Democratic side in the House, to knock off incumbent legislators, including 11 from Philadelphia and its surrounding counties.
Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, who is fighting criminal charges that she accepted money from an undercover informant in a sting investigation, had five challengers. With nearly 74 percent of the precincts reporting, Brown appeared comfortably in the lead.
Rep. Margo Davidson of Delaware County - the first Democrat, first woman, and first African American to represent her district - was facing a formidable challenge from a former supporter, Upper Darby Councilwoman Sekela Coles. With nearly all precincts reporting, Davidson was leading.
One of the biggest Senate battles was the matchup between Philadelphia Democratic State Sen. John Sabatina and Philadelphia State Rep. Kevin Boyle, who were both seeking former Senator Mike Stack's seat in Philadelphia. Stack is now lieutenant governor.
The race featured an old-fashioned political brawl between two Philadelphia families: Boyle and his brother, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, have long been at odds with Sabatina and his father, a longtime Philadelphia ward leader. With 92 percent of the precincts reporting, Sabatina was holding onto a slim edge.
Correction: This story was revised to reflect that John Sabatina and Kevin Boyle were running for Lt. Gov. Mike Stack's former state senate seat, not former Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi's seat.