Candidates in the 2018 primary

[This is the 2018 candidate page as it appeared on the eve of the May 15, 2018, primary election. For the list after the primary, see here.)

As we redouble our efforts to convince voters to support our candidates and our principles, may we always remain inspired by the shining example of Adam Swope, whose life was sadly cut short in November.

Our purpose on this page is to give equivalent attention to all candidates who seem likely to be on the primary ballot while letting readers know which are endorsed by CCDC and/or by the PA Dem State Committee (not always the same).

Elsewhere on this site, we post occasional items by, from, or about candidates that inform our readers about important issues or that appear in the press; we wish to be fair to all candidates but will give more space to those whom CCDC has endorsed.

2018 is a critical year! Will Dem momentum from November 2017 continue? You alone, as activists and voters and influencers of friends, neighbors and relatives, can determine the answer (including by helping maintain and enhance our presence on social media). Chesco Dems have a long history of contesting seats (see prior candidates, 2010-17, here) but 2018 is exceptional: every Chesco seat in Harrisburg and Washington will have one or more Dem candidates on the primary ballot.

US House of Representatives district 6, all PA House seats, and half of PA Senate seats will be on the May 15 ballot in Chester County, and Governor Wolf and Senator Casey will be running for reelection. US House 7 (now 5) and 16 (now 11) no longer include any of Chester County (for those candidates as of Feb. 20, see here.)

Satisfying though the November 2017 election was, the statewide and national impact of our resolve awaits November 2018.

Also, in the primary election, Democratic voters will elect committeepersons (two per precinct throughout Chester County), who keep their constituents informed before and at elections and participate in party conventions.

Voters will also choose members of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee (4 men and 4 women). State Committee meets at least three times a year, most often in Harrisburg, to discuss political issues and consider endorsing candidates running for state-wide office (that is a separate process from the Chesco Dem Nominating Convention in February).

The list below shows Dem candidates above the local level who are known to be actively campaigning to appear on the May 15 primary ballot (or, for State Committee, to be elected then, as that is the final word). Please send additions and corrections here. See all state and federal candidates on the ballot at the PA Department of State site.


Bob Casey (incumbent; endorsed by CCDC)
Bob Casey was raised to believe that “all public service is a trust, given in faith and accepted in honor,” and he has brought that to every office he has held, including Pennsylvania Auditor General, State Treasurer, and U.S. Senator. In Harrisburg, Bob Casey focused on making government more accountable and responsive to the needs of Pennsylvanians.Since becoming in 2006 the first Pennsylvania Democrat elected to a full Senate term since 1962, he has worked to create family-sustaining jobs and foster financial security for Pennsylvania families; to protect our children and invest in their futures; to ensure safety at home and respect for America abroad; to promote honesty and accountability in government; to preserve the dignity of the vulnerable of all ages; and to advocate for his constituents and help them solve problems they face. He is a voice for those who are threatened by Congressional Republicans’ recent attempts to give tax cuts to the ultra-rich and to undermine Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. See his many other important legislative priorities here.
web site: official, campaign
Facebook: official, campaign


Tom Wolf (incumbent; endorsed by CCDC)
Besides having more than quintupled the size of his family business, the Wolf Organization, a distributor of lumber and other building products, Governor Wolf has a long record of public service As Secretary of Revenue in Governor Rendell’s cabinet, he instituted reforms that grew and strengthened the state lottery and laid the foundation for millions of dollars in additional benefits for seniors. He has chaired York County United Way, the York County Community Foundation, and the York College Board of Trustees. He has also been active in the York Jewish Community Center, the Memorial Hospital of York, and WITF, a regional public television system. In 2014 he carried Chester County by some 5,600 votes on his way to being elected Governor by the very substantial margin of almost 10%. In office, Tom has fought to change Harrisburg. He has prohibited administration employees from accepting gifts from lobbyists, reformed legal contracting to end pay to play, restored the one billion dollar cut to education made in the previous administration, expanded Medicaid, given more than 50,000 seniors the opportunity to age in their homes, and made Pennsylvania a national leader in fighting the opioid and heroin epidemic.
web site: official, campaign
Facebook: official, campaign


Nina Ahmad

Nina is a scientist, women’s rights advocate, and first-generation Bangladeshi American. She is running as the progressive voice that Pennsylvania needs to take on Donald Trump. Nina came to United States at twenty-one. She earned her Ph.D from UPenn and achieved success as a molecular biologist and entrepreneur. As President of the Philadelphia NOW, Nina led a fight to fire three DA’s officer prosecutors who e-mailed pornographic images. She has fought workplace discrimination and harassment that undermines women and people of color. Nina was an organizer for Howard Dean’s insurgent presidential campaign in 2004 and a national delegate for Barack Obama. She has recruited and trained candidates to run as local committee people. She has served as Deputy Mayor for Public Engagement under Mayor Jim Kenney, overseeing the Commission for Women, the Office of Black Male Engagement, and the Youth Commission. Nina and her husband have lived in Pennsylvania for over 30 years and have two daughters.

Kathi Cozzone (endorsed by CCDC)
Kathi Cozzone was sworn in as Chester County Commissioner on January 6, 2008 and was re-elected to office on November 8, 2011 and November 3rd, 2015. She has served as Vice Chair of the Board since 2011. Her most recent role in the private sector was a Corporate Business manager at Rodale Inc. in Emmaus, PA. In 2010, she graduated from the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania’s Academy for Excellence in County Government. In 2017, she was elected First Vice President of CCAP, after having served as Second Vice President the preceding year.

John Fetterman
John grew up in York and attended Albright College, where he played on the football team. In the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, mentoring a boy whose parents died of AIDS motivated John to join AmeriCorps, serving in Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District. He earned a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, then started a GED program in Braddock PA. In 2005, encouraged by his students, John ran successfully for mayor. As mayor, John has applied a hands-on approach to rebuild his community and attract new residents and jobs. In 2016, he ran for U.S. Senate to champion all struggling towns. An outsider, he earned 20% of the vote in a 4-way primary, emerging as a progressive voice for working people on issues like inequality, racial justice, and ending the failed war on drugs.

Ray Sosa
Ray has over 20 years of experience in the private sector providing support and advice to big and small companies, and he wants to use that experience to create a more efficient and effective government in Pennsylvania. For too long, the powers and resources of the Lieutenant Governor’s office have been underutilized, and even though Ray is a political outsider, he is uniquely qualified to serve in these positions because Ray was appointed by three different U.S. Governors to lead districts in coordinating Emergency Management and Response; Ray was Chairman of the Governor’s Human Rights Advocacy Committee for 10 years, fighting for hospitals, juveniles justice centers, foster care homes, and nursing homes. For 10 years, Ray provided legislative policy support for three governors. Ray wants to bring the spirit of statesmanship back to Pennsylvania, so that every Pennsylvanian can be confident that we are working tirelessly for them.

Mike Stack (incumbent)
Mike Stack served four terms in the State Senate representing the 5th district in Northeast Philadelphia, and was the Democratic Chair of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee. He is a graduate of LaSalle College High School and LaSalle University and earned his law degree from Villanova University Law School in 1992. He has been a Fellow of The University of Pennsylvania Leadership Academy of the Fels Institute of Government, member of the Board of Trustees of Temple University and of the Holocaust Awareness Museum, and member of the Board of Directors of Self-Help Movement Inc. He is a member of the Democratic State Committee. Mike was elected as Lieutenant governor in 2014.


See the new map for the full state here

See the map overturned in Feb. 2018 here


Chrissy Houlahan (endorsed by CCDC and Emily’s List)
Chrissy earned her engineering degree from Stanford with a ROTC scholarship and received her M.S. in Technology and Policy from MIT. She served three years active duty as a Captain in the US Air Force, and 13 years in the Reserves. She was founding COO of B-Lab (a nonprofit that promotes B Corporations and good business practices) and President and COO/CFO for Springboard Collaborative (a Philadelphia-based nonprofit focused on improving early childhood literacy in underserved communities country-wide).


PA SENATE (districts 26 and 44 are on the ballot in 2018, districts 9 and 19 in 2020)


PA Senate, DISTRICT 26 (Easttown and Willistown in Chester County, and the rest in DelCo)

Tim Kearney

Tim Kearney is an architect, adjunct professor, and mayor of Swarthmore. Tim is a long-time resident of the 26th district where he raised his public school educated kids with his wife and small business partner Claudia Cueto. Tim has been working as a community leader and problem solver on issues that affect every Pennsylvanian. A lifelong progressive Democrat, he believes that every child in Pennsylvania, no matter their zip code, deserves a first-class public education. As State Senator, he’ll make sure that out-of-state corporations and special interests pay their fair share, and will stand up to Republicans who keep balancing the state budget on the backs of Pennsylvania’s working and middle class. Mayor Tim’s outrage over Republican legislators’ eagerness to sacrifice Pennsylvania’s magnificent natural resources in service to industry greed also drives his campaign. Tim will fight special interests to make sure every Pennsylvanian has clean water to drink and clean air to breathe.

Tanner Rouse (endorsed by CCDC)
Tanner served in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office as an Assistant District Attorney for 7 years. Growing up in Phoenixville with his 7 siblings, Tanner was taught about the importance of giving back to his community from a young age. Tanner lives in Upper Providence with his wife and one-year-old son, Will. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he volunteered for campaigns in his free time, and a J.D. from Fordham University Law School, where he worked in the Urban Policy Clinic. He is running for office to create a more collaborative, more transparent government that seeks out real solutions for real people.

PA Senate District 44 (Parts of Berks and Montgomery counties plus, in Chester County: Caln, East Brandywine, East Coventry, East Nantmeal, East Pikeland, East Vincent, Elverson, Honey Brook twp and borough, North Coventry, South Coventry, Spring City, Upper Uwchlan, Uwchlan, Wallace, Warwick, West Brandywine, West Caln, West Nantmeal, and West Vincent.

Katie Muth (endorsed by CCDC)
Born and raised in western PA, Katie earned her undergraduate degree in athletic training at Penn State and interned for the Pittsburgh Steelers. She earned her postgrad degree in athletic training at the Arizona School of Health Sciences in Mesa AZ and provided health services for student athletes at a Phoenix area high school. She is an athletic trainer for local universities and an adjunct professor of kinesiology. In the Clinton campaign, she helped coordinate training for volunteers and events to engage the local community. Becoming Chair of Indivisible Mid Montco, with over 400 members, and the fact that women’s multi-perspective view accounts for only 18.2% of state legislators motivated her to run for office. Her experience with social justice advocacy and making daily decisions regarding people’s health and well-being make her ready to bring logic, compassion, and reason to Harrisburg.



PA HOUSE, DISTRICT 13 (Atglen, East Nottingham, Elk, Franklin, Highland, London Grove, Londonderry, Lower Oxford, New London, Oxford, Penn, Upper Oxford, West Fallowfield, West Grove, West Nottingham, and 2 municipalities in Lancaster County)

Sue Walker
(endorsed by CCDC)
A community activist, educator and 20-year resident of Landenberg, Sue intends to work diligently and collaboratively for fiscal accountability in Harrisburg, economic growth and new jobs, educational excellence, infrastructure repair and improvement, conservation of natural resources, and quality health and wellness services for all. For 14 years, she has worked with the Avon Grove School District as a volunteer coordinator, Title I instructor for reading remediation, and currently manages the high school library. Earlier, she was president of the local MOMS club, a national organization for stay-at-home mothers. She is taking local politicians to task on her own and as an OxGrove Democrats ActNow and Fair Districts PA volunteer. A native of New Jersey, she attended public schools and earned a B.A. in English and Communications from The College of New Jersey. She is married to Michael Soltis; their two sons are students at Penn State University.

PA HOUSE, DISTRICT 26 (East Coventry, East Nantmeal, East Vincent, Elverson, Honey Brook borough and township, North Coventry, South Coventry, Wallace, Warwick, West Caln, West Nantmeal, West Sadsbury, and a small part of Montgomery County)

Pam Hacker
(endorsed by CCDC)
Pam, born and raised in Pottstown, graduated from St Pius X High School. She and her husband Stephen Hacker purchased their first home, in which they still reside, in 1987. Their 3 children are all graduates of the Owen J. Roberts School District: Clayton, a graduate of the University of Montana, Craig, a graduate of Temple University, and Rosalee, a senior at The Rochester Institute of Technology. Having tried college three times, Pam realized that college wasn’t for her. She was hired as a secretary for Bechtel Construction to assist the Electrical Engineering Department during the construction of the Limerick Nuclear Power plant. During this experience she was introduced to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). In 1984, Pam was accepted into IBEW Local 380 apprenticeship program. She became an industrial and commercial construction electrician and was twice elected to the Executive Board by the membership. Now entering her 34th year as a construction electrician, she continues to work and support the IBEW as member of 98 North.

PA HOUSE, DISTRICT 74 (Caln, Coatesville, Downingtown, East Caln, East Fallowfield, Modena, Parkesburg, Sadsbury, South Coatesville, and Valley)

Josh Maxwell
Josh MaxwellMayor Josh Maxwell, a lifelong resident of Downingtown, and is proud to have served as its mayor for the past 8 years. Elected in 2010 as Downingtown’s youngest mayor at the age of 26, Mayor Maxwell has been an active advocate and leader for his hometown. During his first two terms, Josh started the Chester County Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, secured over $200 million in funding for a train-oriented development in Downingtown’s downtown and signed 5 consecutive no-tax-increase budgets. Besides serving in the part-time mayoral position, Josh works full-time for a USAID subcontractor, developing strategic communication campaigns for education, public finance and gender-based violence programs in Africa. He holds a BA from West Chester University, an MPA from the University of Pennsylvania.
see also video here

Frank Pryor
Frank has a track record of success in Higher Education, Government, Health Care Administration, Business Management, and Political Campaigns. He has a BA from University of Massachusetts, MA from Villanova University, and is ABD from Howard University. As a faculty member in Political Science at Villanova University since 1997, he has taught a range of courses including Public Policy, State & Local Government, and Political Economy. He has served as Chief of Staff for a city councilor in a major Northeastern city, providing legislative leadership in Jobs & Economic Development, Education, Housing, Health Care, and Public Safety. He also served on the Board of Directors for the largest anti-poverty and community development agency in New England. In 2014, he was appointed to Governor Wolf’s Transition Team. He serves as a member of the Regional Planning Committee for the Western Chester County Chamber of Commerce. He is motivated by the value of family, friends, neighbors and community. He resides in East Fallowfield with his wife and two young sons and also has a grown daughter.

Dan Williams

As Senior Pastor of New Life in Christ Fellowship Church in Coatesville for 27 years, Pastor Dan has envisioned, led, and sponsored missionary trips domestically and abroad. NLICF has sponsored, collected, and delivered over 500 care packages to our armed service members in Afghanistan in conjunction with the “Adopt a Soldier” organization. Dan has led initiatives for fire victims and the beautification of Ash Park (Coatesville). He has launched many drives bringing food and clothes to thousands of families. He has partnered with local law enforcement agencies to share views; to aid in the fight against gun violence, he facilitated a “Guns for Amnesty Program.” Dan and his family head the Willia Mae Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund, named after his late mother, awarding merit scholarships to young people based on academic achievement. A graduate of Geneva College, Biblical Seminary, Beaver Falls, PA (B.S. Mdiv and DMin), Dan has been married to Baleria Alston Williams for 37 years. They have three children and 1 grandson.

PA HOUSE, DISTRICT 155 (East Brandywine, East Pikeland, Phoenixville (PART, Ward North), Spring City, Upper Uwchlan, Uwchlan, West Brandywine, and West Vincent)

Ronald Graham

A lifelong resident of the area, Ron Graham joined East Pikeland Township’s Board of Supervisors in 2008 and has served as Chairman of the Board since 2009. He supports projects that promote and maintain open space and preserve the historic French Creek environment, and is a past president of Green Valleys Watershed Association. He received a B.S. in aviation science from Edison State University, J.D. from Widener University Law School, and Masters in Environmental Studies from UPenn. Ron is a founding partner of the law firm Graham & Mauer in Valley Forge and Harrisburg. He is licensed to practice law in all PA state and federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. He has served as a Judicial Arbitration Chairperson for the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. He is a former instructor at Widener University Delaware School of Law. Ron is a retired Colonel and Master Army Aviator. He believes that successful governance is based on integrity, communication, compromise rather than confrontation, and sound fiscal organization.

Danielle Friel Otten (endorsed by CCDC and Emily’s List)

Danielle, a mother of two, is tired of seeing education, healthcare, and the environment under-prioritized by our state legislature. Meanwhile, the gas and oil lobbies peddle money and influence, and elected officials choose corporate profits over public health, public safety, and preserving natural resources. Career politicians promote tax breaks and deregulation, and allow corporations to abuse our private property rights, contaminate our environment, and jeopardize our health, welfare, and safety. The Mariner East II pipeline project is a disturbing example of how corporate influence wreaks havoc in our communities. As a founder of Uwchlan Safety Coalition and Del-Chesco United for Pipeline Safety, Danielle has been a leader in the fight to demand transparency, accountability, and corporate responsibility while the incumbent representative has sat silently as her constituents have begged her to be their voice. Danielle believes in the philosophy of servant leadership and in collaboration, civility, and the common good: quality affordable healthcare, a first-rate public education, personal choices about family planning, and the responsibility to be stewards of our Earth.

PA HOUSE, DISTRICT 156 (Birmingham, East Goshen, Thornbury, West Goshen North, West Chester, and Westtown)

Carolyn Comitta (incumbent; endorsed by CCDC and Emily’s List)
Two term Mayor of West Chester from 2010 – 2017, Carolyn earned her Master of Science in Education, Widener University. She continues to mentor to students and has organized the attendance of over 2000 local students at the annual Health and Environment Conference at the United Nations. She is Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Thomas Comitta Associates. She served on the West Chester Borough Council from 2006 – 2010.


PA HOUSE, DISTRICT 157 (Phoenixville East, Middle and West, Schuylkill, Tredyffrin, and part of Montco.

Melissa Shusterman (endorsed by CCDC)
Melissa is a 4th-generation resident of the greater Phoenixville area. She worked for several start-ups and national media companies such as The Food Network, VH1, fx, HGTV, MTV, QVC and fuse network, and then founded her own business, Fedora Media, a digital video production company that provides high quality digital video for various devices and platforms. She is very active in her community and with local charities. Melissa is not a career politician, but a passionate citizen who loves her community and is fed up with the political gridlock in Harrisburg. As Representative, Melissa will fight to protect our seniors, put Pennsylvania on the path to fiscal responsibility, and put an end to the Keystone tests.

PA HOUSE, DISTRICT 158 (Avondale, East Bradford, East Marlborough, London Britain, New Garden, Newlin, West Bradford, West Goshen (PART, Districts Middle and South), and West Marlborough)

Christina Sappey

Chris has lived in Chester County for 25 years and she and her husband have raised three kids here. She has worked for PA representatives Barb McIlvaine Smith and Carolyn Comitta and Senator Andy Dinniman for a total of 12 years. She now plans to serve in a different role: to represent her home, her neighbors and her community in Harrisburg. She wants to ensure that our economy and business environment are a foundation for growth; she wants our State to live within its means and be able to lend a hand to our neighbors in need. Chris finds herself in the majority of reasonableness and moderation, in the middle, to the left of the hard right and the right of the extreme left. Chris trusts women to make their own decisions about things that should be personal. She believes we should listen to one another, respect alternative positions, and discuss solutions to hard problems in a civil manner. Chris lives in West Bradford.

PA HOUSE, DISTRICT 160 (Kennett, Kennett Square, Pennsbury, Pocopson, and part of Delaware County)

Anton Andrew

Born in Washington D.C. of West Indian parents, Anton earned degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Hofstra School of Law. As a court-appointed lawyer in Miami and a volunteer in Chester County, he defended the rights of those who could not afford to hire a lawyer. As a senior adviser to two Presidents at Cheyney University, in addition to implementing and enforcing the rules on workplace harassment and discrimination, he launched and directed a campus center that trains small, women and minority-owned businesses to compete for government contracts, throughout Pennsylvania. He has helped grow Open Connections and The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County and has helped The Nature Conservancy to engage with diverse communities. With his background in finding common ground and solutions that work for diverse groups, he will listen to the residents of the PA 160th, knowing that no one person or party has a monopoly on solving the challenges we face.

Cathy Spahr

Cathy Spahr felt the call to activism after the 2016 election of Donald Trump. She founded an organization called We Speak for the Trees, which uses the Dr. Seuss book “The Lorax” to advocate for the environment and for those without a voice. We Speak for the Trees collects copies of “The Lorax” to give to elected officials with handwritten messages from their constituents (see video here). She invites parents to join her and bring children so that the future generations can learn how to advocate and communicate with their elected officials. Cathy has been a member of her local Indivisible group since February of 2017. She helped restart the local Democratic Committee in her township as well. Cathy is running for State Representative in PA’s 160th house district. She wants to bring her real life experience with addiction, working in local government, and being an activist to the table to help PA families and speak for those without a voice.

PA HOUSE, DISTRICT 167 (Charlestown, East Whiteland, Easttown, Malvern, West Pikeland, West Whiteland, and Willistown)

Kristine Howard
(endorsed by CCDC)

Kristine spent most of the last decade working for progressive candidates and serving as a Democratic committeeperson from Malvern while balancing the responsibilities of work and single-mother parenting. She was raised in a New Jersey family that valued service and education. After working her way through UPenn and law school at Rutgers in Camden, she married and spent five years in New Mexico, where she ran a small legal and social services organization while her family grew. After returning to Pennsylvania, she focused on raising her three boys and four girls while working for Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and acting as an advocate for children in foster care. She now works for the County investigating child abuse cases. Her experiences as a social worker, mother and political activist came together in her decision to run for State Representative.
campaign email:

Jeff McFall
Jeff wishes to be a new voice in Harrisburg, that addresses immediate needs while providing vision for the future of our Commonwealth, a representative to speak up regarding the very real issues we face on a day to day basis, as well as planning for future generations. The $1.5 billion budget shortfall costs us all, young and old, working and retired. The cost of healthcare continues to be an issue we all wrestle with daily. Jeff’s family saw their monthly premiums increase over 20% and co-pays increase by as much as 100%, while overall benefits were significantly decreased. And PA families are impacted every day by our public schools: we must address funding to expand early childhood education, transportation for after-school activities, and taking care of the teachers who help shape the next generation.


In the May 15 election, the top four female vote-getters and the top four male vote-getters will be elected to the PA Democratic State Committee. Each Dem voter can vote for up to four male candidates and up to four female candidates. Candidates are alphabetized below; download ballot order here: State Committee 2018 Ballot. We indicate web sites and Facebook when available and include one download per candidate when furnished. Download 2-page pdf with bio and photo of all 18 candidates here: Democratic State Committee 05-2018


Elva Bankins Baxter – Facebook (download: Elva Bankins Baxter BIO)
Barbara Cooper (incumbent) (download: BARBARA COOPER DEMOCRATIC STATE COMMITTEE
Lani Frank (incumbent) – Facebook
Mary LaSota (download: Mary LaSota State Committee)
Lisa Longo (download: Longo State Committee template
Stephannie McLimans (incumbent)
Diane O’Dwyer (download: Diane O for state committee
Debra Sulenski
Michele Vaughn (download: Michele Vaughn State Comm)


John Hellman (download: John Hellmann State Comm)
Kevin Houghton (download: Kevin Houghton for State Committee 2018)
Christopher Kowerdovich (download: Kowerdovich State Committee
Dennis McAndrews
David McLimans (incumbent)
Chris Pielli (incumbent) (download: Chris Pielli State Committee)
Bill Scott (incumbent)
Alex Teplyakov (download: AlexTeplyakov_DemocraticStateCommittee)
Hans van Mol (incumbent) (download: HVM State Committee Letter 2)