A day after Democrats solidified their control of the Pennsylvania state House and elected the 21st District’s first black female representative, party officials set out to remind voters on Wednesday that there’s perhaps an even more important election coming up in November.

In a news conference Downtown, Rep.-elect Lindsay Powell made her first public appearance since winning Tuesday’s special election, using it to prop up the candidacy of her predecessor, Sara Innamorato, who is running for Allegheny County executive.

Powell urged voters to consider the potential of having Democrats in Harrisburg and another Democrat here at home in the county executive’s seat, which has been held by Rich Fitzgerald for more than a decade.

“Together we’ll be fighting for the region’s working families and making sure that everyone in Allegheny County has access to abundant opportunities,” Powell said of herself and Innamorato.

 “November’s election could not be more important,” she added.

There are 48 days until the election, which will pit Innamorato against Republican businessman Joe Rockey for one of the state’s most powerful positions. Allegheny County employs about 6,300 people and commands a budget of $3 billion spread across two dozen departments. 

Innamorato, who has served the 21st District for three terms before resigning this past summer, said Wednesday that she is “energized” by Powell’s win and by the prospect of building a county “where we can all thrive.”

The group of Democrats used the presser to hit Rockey for his political affiliations, insisting that he’d be another “unelectable” Republican with connections to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement.

Rockey, who grew up on the North Side, retired two years ago from a top position at PNC Financial Services. In his first TV ad, he recapped some of his policy positions — one being his opposition to recalculating the tax bills for all properties in the county — and said of his career, “I worked hard, played by the rules and learned by giving back.”

The county’s demographics are friendly to Democratic candidates in races encompassing the whole area, but Republicans are holding out hope of a massive upset. Sam DeMarco, chair of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County, recently noted that there are almost 60,000 fewer registered Democratic voters in the county than there were when Jim Roddy won in 1999.

“[Rockey] can win in Allegheny County and is going to win in 2023!” Demarco tweeted this week.

Consider Tuesday wind to Democrats’ sails as Powell swept to an easy victory, giving Democrats a slim 102 to 101 majority in the state House. 

Powell, of Lawrenceville, works as director of workforce strategies for InnovatePGH. She will serve out the remainder of Innamorato’s term through 2024.

Julian is the Western Pennsylvania politics and government bureau chief at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike.

Julian Routh

Julian is the Western Pennsylvania politics and government bureau chief at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike.