Progressive Challenger Innamorato Poised to Win Allegheny County Executive Race – Progressives Poised to Achieve Trifecta in Pittsburgh

Progressive State Representative Sara Innamorato is poised to win election as Allegheny County Executive (Sara Innamorato Campaign)


Greetings from the Burgh, where we are gearing up for a major primary election tonite. 

37-year-old, progressive state representative Sara Innamorato leads by double digits in polls for County Executive of Allegheny County, the third largest government in the state. 

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Innamorato Poised to Win Allegheny County Executive Race Leads by 12 Points 

In Allegheny County, progressive 37-year-old state rep Sara Innamorato is poised to win the race to be Chief Executive of Pittsburgh Allegheny County, which has a population of 1.3 million, centered around the 300,000-person city of Pittsburgh. 

As Chief Executive of Allegheny County, she would be the third most powerful chief executive in the state after the Governor of Pennsylvania and the Mayor of Philadelphia, overseeing a budget of over $1 billion and a staff of 6,000 employees. Many thousands are also hired annually through government contracts for roads, highways, bridges, and other public works projects. 

Innamorato leads by 32% to 20%, according to a poll conducted by Pittsburgh Week taken last week. 

A dedicated environmentalist, Innamorato, has pledged to ban fracking in Allegheny County. 

With many of their union members employed on fossil fuel projects, the right-wing male construction unions have spent heavily against the progressive Innamorto and have endorsed long-time county executive John Weinstein. The Allegheny County Labor Council has endorsed Weinstein, continuing a trend of endorsing conservative candidates against younger, more progressive candidates.

Meanwhile, Innamorato has received heavy support from the public sector and more left-leaning unions in the city, including SEIU, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, and the left-leaning United Electrical Workers (UE). 

SEIU Pushing UPMC Unionization One of Innamorato’s Top Targets

Working Families Party has spent $300,000 on behalf of Innamorato in independent expenditure ads. SEIU has spent heavily as well, donating over $200,000 in donations.

If elected, Innamoroto will attempt to force the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the anti-union healthcare giant, the largest employer in Pennsylvania.

Recently, a PA court ruled that several hospitals in southeastern Pennsylvania could be stripped of their tax-exempt status, setting up the stage for the non-profit status of hospitals throughout the state to be challenged. 

 Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey has proposed that tax-exempt properties in the city meet rigorous standards to maintain their non-profit status. Already, Gainey has identified targeting six major properties owned by UPMC for being stripped of their tax-exempt status. Innamorato is pledging to expand that list at the county level, where the hospital chain owns many more hospitals. 

“I’m running for county executive because we need a leader who works for the people, not for powerful institutions like UPMC,” Innamorato told Public Sources earlier this year. “That means elevating Mayor Gainey’s review of all tax-exempt properties to the county level.”

Progressive Trifecta In Allegheny County

For years conservative Democrat Rich Fitzgerald served as county executive for 11 years. During this time, he used his power as the boss of a workforce of over 6,000 to push conservative policies. 

He expanded fracking throughout the country, refused to go after UPMC for taxes, and bankrolled conservative challengers to both State Rep. Sara Innamorato and her close ally Congresswoman Summer Lee. While progressive movements have seen limited effects in some municipalities, progressive ones in Allegheny County have been dominating. 

In 2018, Innamorato defeated State Representative Dom Costa, a former police chief and 10-year year incumbent as a state representative. At the same time, future Congresswoman Summer Lee also defeated a 20-year incumbent state representative from the same political family named Paul Costa. 

The two then began to actively primary Democrats in Pittsburgh. In 2019, the pair backed Bethany Hallam, who toppled County Council President John DeFazio, who was the district director of the Steelworkers in Pennsylvania. (DeFazio died last year.) Then, the two backed two state representative candidates, Emily Kinkead and Jessica Benham, who beat incumbents, as well as several judges.

In 2020, Lee and Innamorato also backed state Rep. Ed Gainey in a successful bid to unseat incumbent mayor Bill Peduto, becoming the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh. On election night, Gainey started off his victory speech by thanking Summer Lee.

Now, with Lee in Congress, Gainey installed as Mayor and Innamorto poised to be County Executive, progressive could be in power in all branches. All three are close personally and are known to work well together. 

Payday will have more updates as the night goes on. 

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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