Roderick Random: Change Biggest Winner In Primary Election

May 25, 2019 GMT

You can view the primary election results Tuesday as the tale of three tickets.

Each united ticket for Lackawanna County commissioner produced at least one winner.

Only one ticket had two winners — the endorsed Republican one of HVAC technician Chris Chermak and Scott Twp. Supervisor Michael Giannetta. They clobbered the one candidate who flew solo, Republican Commissioner Laureen Cummings.

Each Democratic ticket produced one winner.

Commissioner Jerry Notarianni won, but his running mate, former county planning and community development director George Kelly, lost.


Commissioner Patrick O’Malley lost, but his running mate, assistant public defender Debi Domenick, won. They had the county Democratic endorsement.

In recent commissioner elections, only Notarianni, in 2015, has won running on his own against a clearly united commissioner ticket.

No doubt this primary amounted to a change election. Any time two incumbents lose, you have to view it that way, but remember Notarianni topped the vote count. Few around here have spent as much time as he has in local politics.

Also, Republicans paired Chermak with Giannetta, who has involved himself in or hung around local politics since 1989, though almost exclusively in Scott.

Don’t carry the comparison too far, but having Giannetta and Notarianni around is sort of like when a relatively green Barack Obama chose a veteran politico, Joe Biden, to form a presidential ticket in 2008.

The value of a united ticket really showed on the Republican side.

Giannetta and Chermak won handily. Chermak had 6,119 votes, Giannetta, 5,778, and Cummings 4,346.

That’s not close. The people who told us Cummings was finished after Giannetta and Chermak formed their ticket proved right.

Drill down into the region-by-region and town-by-town numbers and you can see the effect a unified ticket can have.

Chermak and Giannetta finished first or second in the Abingtons, Dunmore, the Midvalley, North Pocono and Scranton.

Cummings won Carbondale, the Downvalley and the Upvalley.

The largest parts of Chermak’s and Giannetta’s victory margins came through the Abingtons, the Midvalley and Scranton.

Giannetta or Chermak finished in the top two in 27 of the county’s 40 cities, boroughs and townships — Archbald, Benton, Blakely, Clarks Green, Clarks Summit, Clifton, Dalton, Dunmore, Elmhurst, Glenburn, Jefferson, La Plume, Madison, Moscow, Newton, North Abington, Olyphant, Ransom, Roaring Brook, Scott, Scranton, South Abington, Spring Brook, Thornhurst, Throop, Waverly and West Abington.


Cummings won Carbondale city and township, Covington, Fell, Greenfield, Mayfield, Moosic, Old Forge and Taylor with Giannetta second in each except for Moosic and Taylor.

Cummings finished second to Giannetta in Jessup, Jermyn and Vandling and second to Chermak in Dickson City.

On the Democratic side, things wound up more muddled because voters split their votes a lot. That means, as University of Scranton political science professor Jean Harris pointed out this week, voters thought a lot about who they wanted.

Notarianni topped the voting only in Scranton and the Abingtons, but finished as top vote-getter with 13,192, followed by Domenick, 12,796, O’Malley, 11,863, and Kelly, 11,764. Notarianni finished second in Dunmore behind Kelly, and North Pocono, behind Domenick.

Domenick won the number-two slot by finishing first in every other region. She won Carbondale, Downvalley, Midvalley, North Pocono and Upvalley.

O’Malley didn’t win any region. He finished second in Carbondale, Downvalley, Midvalley and Upvalley, but last in the Abingtons, Dunmore, North Pocono and only third in Scranton.

O’Malley, a Scranton resident his whole life before he moved to Blakely, finished third in Scranton behind Kelly.

Notarianni’s Scranton crew really did a number on O’Malley there.

Unfortunately for Kelly, O’Malley and Domenick (she finished last in Scranton) still earned enough votes there to cost Kelly a chance at winning a nomination.

Kelly won Dunmore, his home, finished second in Scranton and the Abingtons, third in North Pocono but last in Carbondale, Downvalley, Midvalley and Upvalley. A bit better in Scranton and the other places and maybe he would have finished second.

Town-by-town, the order of finish varied widely so we’ll stick with the winners in each:

■ Notarianni won Benton, Clarks Green, Clarks Summit, Glenburn, LaPlume, Madison, Newton, Roaring Brook, Scranton, South Abington, Throop and Waverly.

■ Domenick won North Abington, Ransom, Carbondale city, Clifton, Covington, Dickson City, Elmhurst, Greenfield, Jefferson, Jermyn, Mayfield, Moosic, Old Forge, Olyphant, Scott, Springbrook, Taylor and Thornhurst. Her second-place finish in Clarks Summit ahead of Kelly really hurt him, with borough Council President Gerrie Carey a big help to Domenick there.

■ O’Malley won Archbald, Blakely, Fell, Jessup and Vandling.

■ Beside Dunmore, Kelly won Dalton, Carbondale township, Moscow and West Abington.

A couple of other points about this election:

■ The election may have busted for good the long-held belief about voting along ethnic lines. Kelly and O’Malley, both of Irish descent, lost.

■ Women mattered big time. Domenick won, and four of the five Scranton School Board candidates who won were women running for the first time. Once again, they are Catherine Fox, Tara Yanni, Sarah E. Cruz and Ro Hume. Cruz is the first person from a Hispanic background to win a city school board election. Hume, a respected TV writer and producer in Australia, moved from there to Scranton in 2012 to be closer to her daughter. The four and incumbent Tom Schuster defeated two male incumbents, Tom Borthwick and Greg Popil.

In the city council race, another woman, Jessica Rothchild, a first-time candidate who is openly gay and married to a woman, won a Democratic nomination and will likely join the council come January.

That’s not just six women, but six women with extraordinarily diverse backgrounds.

If you want evidence locals are ready for change, you can hardly ask for more.

BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Times-Tribune politics reporter, writes Random Notes.