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DelCo Democrats, Elected Leaders Celebrate Wins at Swarthmore Watch Party

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On Tuesday, Nov. 8, at 8 p.m., the Delaware County Democrats hosted an election night watch party at the Swarthmore Inn. Swarthmore’s local Democratic delegation, including Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Pennsylvania State Senator Tim Kearney, and Pennsylvania House Representatives Jennifer O’Mara and Leanne Krueger, were in attendance. 

Scanlon, Kearney, O’Mara, and Krueger all ran for re-election this year, and they spent the night conversing with Delaware County residents and Swarthmore students as election results rolled in on two large screens in the Inn. 

Josiah Myers-Lipton ’23, who worked as a staffer on Scanlon’s re-election campaign, reflected on his experience as a student organizer in Delaware County.

“It was a really worthwhile experience. Campaigns are one of the most accessible ways for students to get involved in the political world. Mary Gay [Scanlon] especially goes the extra mile to make students feel welcome and included in the political process,” he said. 

According to Swarthmore Mayor Marty Spiegel, the election night watch party is a tradition among community members and leaders, creating a space for neighbors to relax after the campaign season. 

“It’s become kind of a post-election tradition — having a little gathering to debrief and just breathe a little bit after what’s been a rather grueling experience for a lot of people and especially the candidates,” he said. “It’s just a reason to get together with good people.” 

The election night watch party is one way community members gather to show support for their local Democratic politicians. For Swarthmore Borough Council Member Sarah Graden, it is important to show up and support other Democratic candidates from Swarthmore. Graden also commented on the importance of connecting with the representatives of the Delaware County Democrats in Swarthmore. 

“I think we have great representation here in Swarthmore with Tim Kearney, Jen O’Mara, and Mary Gay, and we want to help them so they can continue to fight for us,” she said. 

Other event attendees, such as Kristen Seymore, reflected on important issues that appeared on the ballot. Seymour, who sits on the Swarthmore Borough Council with Graden, mentioned that issues on both the federal and state levels will prove consequential for Pennsylvanians.

“This election is important from the very top of the ticket to the bottom of the ticket, now more than ever, because you have the federal races where our next elected officials will be deciding many important federal issues … and then you have our local issues of our state representatives and our state senators, which are now responsible for our reproductive rights,” she said. 

Reproductive rights were a key issue for many Americans this midterm election, with 76% of Democrats citing abortion as one of the top five issues on the ballot, according to NBC exit polls. Melissa Crawford, a Swarthmore resident, physician, and member of the Swarthmore Human Relations Commission, explained why this election was important to her, specifically regarding reproductive freedom. 

“Reproductive freedom and body autonomy are on the ballot, and I’d like to live in a world where medical decisions are left between patients and their physicians and not political leaders,” she said, referencing a statement from former Pennsylvania Senatorial candidate Mehmet Oz during the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate debate. 

Graden continued along this point, stating that as a locally-elected official, she does not want to be in charge of health decisions that should be made between a patient and their doctor. 

“I told my six-year-old today that I, as a locally-elected official, did not want to be in charge of her reproductive rights. I wanted it to be between her and her doctor,” she said. 

The mood at the watch party was initially apprehensive as local Democrats braced for what some pundits predicted would be a disastrous night for their party, but became more celebratory as many candidates seen as vulnerable outperformed expectations.

At one point, attendees erupted into applause as MSNBC Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki zoomed in on Delaware County, noting the significance of Democratic Senate Candidate John Fetterman’s double-digit lead over Republican Mehmet Oz in the region. The Associated Press later called the race for Fetterman around midnight. 

After hours of conversation, at approximately 11 p.m., Delaware County Democrats Chair Colleen Guiney introduced Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, who gave a brief speech highlighting Governor-elect Josh Shapiro’s victory and thanking volunteers and attendees. Kearney, O’Mara, and Krueger followed her remarks.

Once a reliable suburban stronghold for Republicans, Democrats have seen increasing success in Delaware County since gaining control of its County Council in 2019. 

Swarthmore, previously part of the 161st district represented in the PA House by Krueger, will now be represented in the 165th district by O’Mara after a bitter and protracted redistricting process that took place at the beginning of the year.

In the State Senate, Swarthmore will continue to be represented by Kearney, an architect and former mayor who has quickly risen the ranks of Democratic leadership. He currently serves as the minority chair of the Local Government Committee and Vice Chair of Appropriations. 

Although her race had not been called by the Associated Press at the time of her speech, Krueger all but declared victory. 

“While we don’t have official results yet, I can tell you that my opponent has no path to victory,” she said to cheers and applause. 

As results continued to trickle in throughout the early morning hours of Wednesday, Nov. 9, it became clear that Swarthmore’s all-Democratic state delegation would be decisively re-elected. 

Running up insurmountable leads in the Delaware, Philadelphia, and Montgomery counties, Scanlon trounced Republican opponent Dave Galluch, a Navy veteran and business professional. 

Meanwhile, Kearney, O’Mara, and Krueger also beat back their Republican challengers by near double-digit margins.

Shapiro and U.S. Senator-elect John Fetterman’s wins come as a victory for Democrats on the state and federal levels, respectively. While control of the U.S. Senate is still undetermined, it is clear that the House of Representatives is in Republican hands. 

Myers-Lipton said he was proud of the local results but concerned about partisan gridlock at the national level. 

“With what we were expecting going into election night, this is a huge success. I wouldn’t go so far in celebrating as some have, as it looks like the next two years are going to be a slog with a Republican-controlled House. Still, the red wave wasn’t there — thanks in part to young voters — and this is a strong rebuke to Trump-like candidates,” he said. “I’m really interested to see what this means for 2024, as not only does it look like Trump is losing control of the Republican Party, it feels like a lot of Dems won in spite of Biden.”

Owen Mortner contributed reporting.

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