Newcomers Rebecca Rhynhart and Larry Krasner were victorious in Tuesday night’s primary elections.
In a shocking and lopsided upset, challenger Rebecca Rhynhart defeated City Controller Alan Butkovitz in the Democratic primary on Tuesday night.
“I guess somebody should find Rebecca’s phone number,” Butkovitz said as he arrived outside Randi’s Restaurant and Bar, in Bustleton, shortly after 9:30 p.m.
Butkovitz, a Castor Gardens resident, walked inside to address his supporters.
“It looks like we lost to Rebecca Rhynhart, 60–40,” he said, as several shocked supporters gasped.
Afterward, he phoned Rhynhart, telling her that the controller’s office is filled with professional and capable employees. He was gracious in his remarks to supporters and in speaking to his opponent.
“Congratulations. It’s quite an accomplishment,” he told Rhynhart, who was celebrating her victory at Strangelove’s, in Center City. “I look forward to working with you as you take over the office.”
Actually, Rhynhart will not be taking over the office, until at least January. She will face Republican Mike Tomlinson, who was unopposed in the primary. Tomlinson has been a CPA, teacher, youth sports coach and member of Town Watch, Holmesburg Civic Association and the Friends of Holmesburg Library.
Meanwhile, Larry Krasner easily captured the Democratic nomination for district attorney, defeating six opponents and becoming the heavy favorite to win the general election.
Rhynhart, who resigned as the city’s chief administrative officer to run, stayed competitive with the incumbent in fundraising, and was supported by former Gov. and Mayor Ed Rendell, the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity and the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.
However, Butkovitz enjoyed better name recognition and support from ward leaders and unions. He served as a state representative for 15 years before being elected controller in 2005.
None of that, though, mattered, as Butkovitz fell short of a fourth four-year term.
Among his supporters at Randi’s were city elections commissioner Lisa Deeley, state Reps. Jared Solomon and Ed Neilson and former state House Speakers John Perzel and Bob O’Donnell.
Rhynhart led all night and was ahead, 58 percent to 41 percent, with more than 94 percent of the vote counted.
Butkovitz, 65, will serve out his term, which expires at the end of the year. He has no plans to retire.
“I intend to remain active,” he said. “I have to be looking for a new job.”
Butkovitz was joined by his wife and two adult children. He thanked his supporters, including office deputies Bill Rubin, John Thomas and Christy Brady.
The incumbent said he loved the job.
“We’ve had a really great run,” he said.
Deeley, who worked for Butkovitz when he was a state representative, said he was an effective controller, clashing with people and agencies that wasted city money.
“It’s the ultimate outcome when you talk truth to power,” she said. “He put the controller’s office on the map. He won national awards. On to better things.”
Neilson has Butkovitz’s former state House seat.
“This is a hard hit. He’s been a great watchdog,” he said.
As for the district attorney’s race, Krasner had 38 percent of the vote with 94.19 percent of the vote counted.
Joe Khan was in second place with 20 percent, followed by Rich Negrin (14 percent), Tariq El-Shabazz (12 percent), Michael Untermeyer (8 percent), Jack O’Neill (6 percent) and Teresa Carr Deni (1 percent).
Beth Grossman, a longtime former assistant district attorney and onetime chief of staff for the Department of Licenses and Inspections, was unopposed in the Republican primary.
Krasner, a veteran civil rights attorney, had the backing of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, MoveOn.org, the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, the Philadelphia Gay News, the carpenters’ union, AFSCME District Council 33 and powerful ward leaders Marian Tasco and Isabella Fitzgerald. He held a victory party at the John C. Anderson Homes in Center City.
Krasner benefited from $1.45 million from a political action committee funded by liberal political activist George Soros.
Khan, a Bustleton native, made a campaign stop at the Dining Car in Holmesburg early Tuesday night. A former city and federal prosecutor, he was endorsed by former District Attorney, Mayor and Gov. Ed Rendell, the Philadelphia Tribune, Gold Star father Khizr Khan, former congresswoman Allyson Schwartz and 22 former assistant district attorneys.
Negrin, a former assistant district attorney and city managing director, was backed by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 and the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.
El-Shabazz, who has worked for many years as a defense attorney, did not raise enough money to be competitive, but beat out a few better-funded opponents.
Untermeyer, a real estate developer and former assistant district attorney and deputy attorney general, loaned his campaign $1.25 million. He had several Northeast wards backing him on Tuesday.
O’Neill, who served 10 years as an assistant district attorney and made a late entry into the race, secured support from a bunch of unions and ward leaders and elected officials from the Northeast and South Philadelphia.
Deni, a Crestmont Farms resident who served as a Municipal Court judge for 21 years, did not raise enough money to compete.
In other races, Philadelphia Democrats were choosing among 27 candidates for nine nominations to Common Pleas Court.
The leading vote-getters, at press time, were Stella Tsai, Vikki Kristiansson, Lucretia Clemons, Deborah Cianfrani, Zac Shaffer, Deborah Canty, Mark Cohen, Shanese Johnson and Vince Furlong.
Cohen, of Castor Gardens, lost his state House seat to Jared Solomon last year.
Furlong, of Somerton, is a Republican who cross-filed in the Democratic primary. He was appointed to the bench but needs to be elected to a 10-year term.
Philadelphia Democrats were also nominating two candidates for Municipal Court. The leaders with votes still to be counted were Marissa Brumbach and Matt Wolf.
Statewide, Democrat Dwayne Woodruff and Republican Sallie Mundy were unopposed and will meet in the general election for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Both parties have five candidates running for four nominations to Superior Court.
Endorsed Democrats Carolyn Nichols, Geoff Moulton, Maria McLaughlin and Debbie Kunselman were winners.
The Republican winners were three endorsed candidates — Emil Giordano, Craig Stedman and Wade Kagarise — and Mary Murray, who was not endorsed.
There are two openings on Commonwealth Court.
Among six Democratic candidates, the apparent winners are Ellen Ceisler and Irene Clark. Todd Eagen, the only candidate who was endorsed by the state party, was fourth.
Republican candidates Paul Lalley and Christine Fizzano Cannon were unopposed. ••
Tom Waring can be reached at 215–354–3034 or email@example.com