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CP Illustration: Lucy Chen
District Attorney Stephen Zappala tallied enough write-in votes last week to run in November as the Republican nominee after losing the Democratic nomination to Matt Dugan.
Allegheny County's election board reported today that Zappala picked up 9,697 votes from Republicans on Election Day, where the longtime Democrat lost his party's support for the first time in 25 years.
Dugan, currently the county's chief public defender, took on Zappala by presenting himself as a reform-minded alternative, advocating for broader use of diversionary programs to keep some first-time offenders out of the prison system.
Zappala, a moderate Democrat, has in recent years come under fire from the party's growing progressive flank over his prosecutorial record. Two weeks ago, a national public interest law firm filed an ethics complaint against Zappala
for claims of improper conduct, including allegations he instructed his staff to deny plea deals to clients of a Black attorney who publicly characterized Zappala's office as "systematically racist" in 2021.
His campaign did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether he plans to accept the GOP write-in nomination.
Dugan's campaign told Pittsburgh City Paper
in a statement that Zappala's Republican support is consistent with his political priorities.
"Mr. Zappala announced his campaign by saying he had more Republican than Democrat friends, so we aren't surprised that he is their pick to run in November," his campaign said in an email. "Disappointing but not surprising. We look forward to beating him again in the fall."