A young state representative from Philadelphia beat three rivals — including a former congresswoman who is now Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law — to win the Democratic nomination Tuesday for an open seat in the U.S. House.
Early returns showed Brendan Boyle winning the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania's 13th District, virtually assuring him of becoming the successor to U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a fifth-term Democrat who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nod for governor. The district straddling Philadelphia and Montgomery County is heavily tilted toward Democrats.
Boyle, the only candidate from Philadelphia, benefited from a unique power base: he and his brother, Kevin, are both state representatives whose legislative districts lie within the 13th District. A political committee made up of building-trades unions also aired TV ads supporting his bid.
"From beginning to end ... I was the one candidate that focused on what I call the forgotten middle class, the fact that income inequality is greater today than at any point in our nation's history," Boyle said, "and we need more people in the Capitol who are sensitive to that and work on those problems."
Marjorie Margolies, who got fundraising help from the Clintons, was looking to recapture the 13th District seat she held from 1993 to 1995 before two rounds of redistricting made the district more reliably Democratic. Voters denied her a second term after she cast a crucial vote for then-President Bill Clinton's budget plan that increased taxes on the wealthy.
The other candidates were state Sen. Daylin Leach, a champion of the party's progressive wing; and Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, an obstetric anesthesiologist. Arkoosh topped her rivals in fundraising by taking in more than $1.9 million, even though she was the only candidate in the field with no experience running for elected office.
The seat, one of two open U.S. House seats in Pennsylvania this year, is being vacated in January by Schwartz.
On the Republican side, businessman Carson Dee Adcock defeated retired Air Force Col. Beverly Plosa-Bowser. Adcock sought the seat in 2010 but lost to Schwartz.
The district takes in parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery County. Democrats account for nearly 60 percent of the voters, so a party primary win is likely to ensure success in the Nov. 4 election.
The only other open seat is in the 6th District, which takes in parts of four counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. Six-term Republican Rep. Jim Gerlach is stepping down, and neither the Republican nominee nor the Democrat was opposed in the primary.
Both the former president and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared at fundraisers for Margolies, a longtime NBC news reporter whose son, Marc Mezvinsky, married Chelsea Clinton in 2010.
In her campaign, Margolies cited her experience working with political leaders as both a congresswoman and founder of a women's rights nonprofit, Women's Campaign International. She said Washington needs new voices because at times, "Congress looks very much like a grade-school playground of unruly children."
Arkoosh, a prominent advocate of President Barack Obama's signature 2010 health care law, was endorsed by The Philadelphia Inquirer. She also benefited from radio ads financed by a political committee of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
Leach is a leading advocate for liberal causes in the Legislature, including the legalization of marijuana and the repeal of Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage.
Two incumbent members of Congress withstood primary challenges.
Seven-term Republican Rep. Bill Shuster defeated two GOP opponents in the 9th District in south-central Pennsylvania — Art Halvorson, a retired Coast Guard captain who is now a commercial real-estate developer, and Army veteran Travis Schooley.
In the 14th District near Pittsburgh, Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle waged a successful rematch against Janis Brooks, a pastor who heads a social-service agency near Pittsburgh. Doyle, who's seeking his 11th term, also defeated Brooks in the 2012 primary.