North Side state Rep. candidate Emily Kinkead gets boost from progressive elected officials Bethany Hallam and Liv Bennett | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

North Side state Rep. candidate Emily Kinkead gets boost from progressive elected officials Bethany Hallam and Liv Bennett

click to enlarge Emily Kinkead - PHOTO: COURTESY THE CAMPAIGN
Photo: courtesy the campaign
Emily Kinkead
Over the past couple of years, progressive Democrats have had significant success in defeating incumbent Democrats in Allegheny County. In 2018, two progressive state House candidates took down incumbents who had a combined 30 years in elected office. Earlier this year, two incumbent Democrats lost their seats on Allegheny County Council to progressive candidates.

Now, state Rep. candidate Emily Kinkead (D-North Side) is hoping to keep this pattern going, with a boost from two of those successful progressive insurgents.

Yesterday, Allegheny County Councilperson Bethany Hallam (D-Ross) endorsed Kinkead in her race against state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl (D-North Side). Kinkead is running to represent Pennsylvania House District 20, which includes the Strip District, parts of Lawrenceville and the North Side, Bellevue, Avalon, and sections of Ross.


“District 20 is a safe Democratic seat that should be leading the fight for the progressive policies that we want to see in our state,” said Hallam in a statement. “There are too many problems to fix to wait on a representative who’s silent. Emily’s experience as a lawyer and a decade working on our state’s biggest issues means she will be ready to lead this fight on day one.”

Kinkead was also endorsed today by Allegheny County Councilor Liv Bennett (D-North Side), who defeated an incumbent Democrat in the county’s 13th District, which overlaps with many parts of HD-20.

“[Kinkead] has been out in the district and stands for any community that has been marginalized,” said Bennett in a statement. “I know she will do the same representing [in] this district as state Rep.”

Ravenstahl has some votes in his past that aligned with conservative lawmakers — particularly his former support for abortion restrictions — that could make him less attractive to Democratic voters.


In the past, Ravenstahl referred to himself as “pro-life,” a term that conveys support for restrictions on abortions. However, he told the Pennsylvania Capital-Star in September that he now considers himself “pro-choice,” a term that conveys support for access to abortions.

This year, his voting record on abortion access bills has aligned with progressive Democrats. Ravenstahl told the Capital-Star in September that he doesn’t “think you’ll find much [difference] in policy between myself and any challenger I would have.”

Kinkead, a lawyer who lives in Brighton Heights, is running on a progressive platform that includes ensuring access to abortions, support for LGBTQ rights like conversion therapy bans, criminal justice issues like probation and parole reform, and raising taxes on the wealthy.


She was recently in a three-way race between Ravenstahl and Bellevue Mayor Emily Marburger, but Marburger dropped out in November.

While Ravenstah’s record isn’t as conservative as other Democrats who lost to progressive challengers, recent voting patterns point to District 20 shifting to the left. In 2019, Hallam carried the vast majority of precincts in District 20, and even Allegheny County District Attorney candidate Turahn Jenkins (D-Monroeville) won several precincts here, despite losing the primary election to DA Stephen Zappala.


However, Ravenstahl faced a primary challenger in 2018 in Mike Devine (D-Lawrenceville) and still won re-election by a 19-point margin. Ravenstahl has served in the district since 2010.

The primary election is on April 28, 2020.

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