Voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary elections in Allegheny County was about 26%, well above the 16% turnout in 2019, the last time the county executive was on the ballot. The jump in participation coincided with a competitive Democratic primary for executive (incumbent Rich Fitzgerald ran unopposed in 2019) and spirited contests for several other countywide offices. 

map of allegheny county collage

Executive Decision
For the first time in 12 years, Allegheny County voters will elect a new county chief executive.

Turnout increased in almost every precinct in the county, but the surge wasn’t uniform. Some Mon Valley communities saw numbers well below the countywide increase of 10 percentage points, while some southern and western suburbs like Mt. Lebanon, Kennedy, Sewickley and Bell Acres were well ahead of that figure. 

Turnout in Pittsburgh rose a modest 7.89 percentage points, driven by more significant jumps in the politically active 14th Ward (dominated by Squirrel Hill), Highland Park and some southern neighborhoods. In an echo of 2022 turnout trends, some of the city’s predominantly Black areas like Homewood, the Hill District and several neighborhoods north of the Allegheny River saw turnout increase less than average or even decline.

Progressive state Rep. Sara Innamorato won the Democratic nomination for county executive with a dominant performance in Pittsburgh, but also by winning pluralities in affluent suburbs like Sewickley, Franklin Park, Fox Chapel and Mt. Lebanon. 

Many of the places where Innamorato thrived also saw the biggest turnout increases from 2019. Turnout in Mt. Lebanon rose by 18 percentage points, in Franklin Park by 14 and in Edgewood by 14 — all places where Innamorato won strong pluralities. 

County Treasurer John Weinstein, who finished second in the primary, did comparatively well in areas that had smaller turnout increases, including Monroeville, McKeesport and Moon. Weinstein won majorities in high-turnout areas of Kennedy and Robinson — his home turf, where he has been influential in local politics for decades.

Pittsburgh is the home of all three people who have been elected county executive since the office’s 2000 inception, and Innamorato, of Lawrenceville, would be a fourth. But while local politics can seem to orbit around the city, the suburbs will have their say. Across Democratic and Republican primaries last week, 181,139 ballots were cast outside Pittsburgh to 52,022 inside the city.

In Tuesday’s vote, Innamorato held her own against more moderate Democrats in the suburbs, narrowly losing the non-Pittsburgh vote to Weinstein by less than a percentage point.

Innamorato will face Republican nominee Joe Rockey in the Nov. 7 General Election. While Rockey was the only candidate on the Republican ballot Tuesday, his vote total was 48% higher than the lone candidate on the 2019 GOP primary ballot, a signal that Rockey is already running a more competitive campaign than Republicans have put forth for this post in recent cycles. 

Nonetheless, Democrats enjoy a 2-to-1 registration advantage in the county, making victory a tall order for any GOP nominee. Rockey, an Ohio Township resident and former PNC executive, would need to run up big numbers in the suburbs to pull it off. Just over 94% of Rockey’s 44,857 primary votes last week came from outside the city. He has already shown that he will try to appeal to moderates and flip some Democrats who he thinks may be wary of Innamorato’s progressive reputation. 

Charlie Wolfson is PublicSource’s local government reporter and a Report for America corps member. He can be reached at and on Twitter @chwolfson.

This story was fact-checked by Rich Lord.

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Charlie Wolfson is an enterprise reporter for PublicSource, focusing on local government accountability in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. He is also a Report for America corps member. Charlie aims to...