Michael Lamb, the four-term Pittsburgh city controller, finished second in the race despite landing the endorsement of Ahmad’s ex-boss, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. With almost all precincts having reported results for in-person votes Friday, Ahmad had about 35% of the vote to 28% for Lamb. While the Associated Press hadn’t yet projected a winner, and a number of mail ballots remained to be counted, Ahmad declared victory Thursday after Lamb conceded.
In a statement, Ahmad thanked her opponents “for running strong campaigns based on progressive ideas for delivering positive change in our commonwealth.” She will face Timothy DeFoor in the general election. DeFoor ran unopposed in the Republican primary.
The Auditor General’s Office, a relatively obscure row office often overshadowed in Harrisburg by other agencies, is described as the state’s “chief financial watchdog.” The auditor general earns an annual salary of $158,764.
“We can rebuild our economy in a way that boosts our small businesses, and benefits working and middle-class families,” Ahmad said. "We can ensure that police reform and criminal justice reform remain front and center. And as auditor general, I will view all of the audits that the office conducts through the lens of racial equity. I will work to stamp out sexual harassment and discrimination in state government, and change the culture in Harrisburg.”
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, was term-limited from seeking the office again. DePasquale won the Democratic primary in central Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District.
Ahmad, who invested $655,835 in a second-place finish in the 2018 primary for lieutenant governor, has said she and her husband, real estate developer Ahsan Nasratullah, had spent more than $1 million in those races combined. She said they believe it’s important to elect women to statewide office.
Just five women have been elected to statewide executive offices in Pennsylvania in the last 66 years. No woman of color has been elected attorney general, treasurer, or auditor general. No woman has ever been elected governor.
Ahmad moved to the United States from Bangladesh in 1980 and became a citizen nine years later.
Ahmad, who also picked up $50,000 in donations from Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in the closing days of the primary campaign, spent $695,460 on broadcast and cable television commercials, according to the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics. That outpaced Lamb, who spent $179,989 on television advertising.
The other candidates were seven-term State Rep. Scott Conklin of Centre County, who lost a statewide race for lieutenant governor in 2010; Tracie Fountain, a certified public accountant who has served in the Auditor General’s Office for three decades; Rose Marie Davis, a certified public accountant from Monroe County; and Christina Hartman, a nonprofit executive from Lancaster County who ran for the U.S. House in 2016.