Pennsylvanians have an unusual opportunity, in an unusually ominous year, to influence the parties' presidential nominations Tuesday. Democrats and, in one local district, Republicans will also decide contested U.S. Senate and House races. The competition to replace the state's disastrous attorney general, Kathleen Kane, offers both parties a choice.
In a Republican presidential field marred by demagoguery and extremism, Ohio Gov. JOHN KASICH has courageously stood for reason and pragmatism. The former budget-balancing congressman is the conservative who would be most competitive in November and most capable of leading the nation.
His executive experience and record of achievement would make Kasich a contender any year. Against the post-factual candidacies of Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, there should be no contest.
Much like Trump on the right, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders embodies liberal discontent, even articulating the same fierce and misguided anti-trade sentiment. His proposed assaults on oversize banks and college debt are more to the point but similarly uncompromising.
HILLARY CLINTON is likelier to make progress on domestic challenges by promising less and working more with people across the political spectrum. Her tenure as secretary of state gave her a breadth of experience that Sanders can't match, her contributions to the Iran nuclear deal demonstrating commitment to global U.S. leadership.
Of a competitive Democratic field to challenge GOP Sen. Pat Toomey in the fall, former Rep. JOE SESTAK has the best credentials and experience, as well as a healthy independent streak. The campaigns of former environmental official Katie McGinty and steel town Mayor John Fetterman have been short on substance.
Northwest Philadelphia activist DAN MUROFF promises a needed departure for the Second Congressional District, where U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah is seeking a 12th term despite his indictment. State Rep. Dwight Evans' formidable record is marred by association with mismanaged nonprofits, while Lower Merion's Brian Gordon would have much to learn about the mostly urban district.
In the gerrymandered Seventh, encompassing most of Delaware County, Democratic political science professor MARY ELLEN BALCHUNIS is more suited to challenge Rep. Pat Meehan in the fall despite the Rev. Bill Golderer's admirable service to the city's neediest.
In Bucks County's Eighth, BRIAN FITZPATRICK left the FBI to seek the seat of his retiring brother, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick. Despite the fix-is-in aura of his entry into the race, his background makes him the most compelling GOP candidate in a field that includes former County Commissioner Andy Warren and psychologist Marc Duome.
On the Democratic side, State Rep. STEVE SANTARSIERO has a grasp of Bucks and the issues that would serve the area well in Washington. Small-business owner Shaughnessy Naughton's strong candidacy has been diminished by campaign-finance questions.
For state attorney general, Republican State Sen. JOHN RAFFERTY's policy knowledge earns the nod over law enforcement veteran Joe Peters. Democratic District Attorneys Stephen Zappala and John Morganelli have ample experience as prosecutors, but Montgomery County Commissioners Chairman JOSH SHAPIRO is the sort of reform-minded executive the office needs.
Unfortunately, the region's only contested state Senate nomination is in Northeast Philadelphia's Fifth District, where Democratic Rep. KEVIN BOYLE has a better understanding of the challenges facing the district and his party than Sen. John Sabatina Jr.
With a judicial retirement query ruled moot, the only statewide ballot question asks whether Philadelphia's corrupt Traffic Court should be formally abolished. The answer is YES.