Her win, along with others like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), was seen as a catalyst for the progressive movement in the Democratic Party. Since then, she has garnered attention for her outspoken left stances, rattling a more moderate Democratic establishment in Western Pennsylvania.
Today, that more moderate wing announced intentions to try to take back Innamorato's seat.
Steve Zappala is the son of Allegheny District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr., announced his intention to run for Pennsylvania's state House District 21.
In a statement sent to Pittsburgh City Paper, Zappala says, "As a lifelong Democrat of Allegheny County, I have decided to run for the Democratic nomination in HD21. I look forward to continuing the conversation with the people of our community and working towards addressing their needs."
The younger Zappala recently ran his father's successful re-election campaign. According to a screenshot from a Facebook post, Zappala is kicking off his campaign at Fugh Hall in Etna on Jan. 3, 2020.
Zappala, while running as a Democrat, hasn't exactly been the example of progressivism within the Democratic Party. CP spotted him at the Shale Insight Conference, where he sat in the VIP section during President Donald Trump's speech. In the speech, Trump slammed Democrats with many false claims.
Stevie Zappala will likely have a difficult race ahead of him. Most of HD 21 is in one of the more progressive parts of the city of Pittsburgh. Innamorato won the district easily in 2018, defeating longtime moderate incumbent Dom Costa (D-Stanton Heights) by a margin of 64-36 in the Democratic Primary.
When reached for comment, Innamorato said she fully intends to be re-elected and "continue building a Pennsylvania for us all." She welcomes the challenge to celebrate a healthy democracy where there are "opportunities to those with alternate visions to run."
"This job brings me face to face with the realities of the challenges faced by out neighbors on a daily basis," says Innamorato. "Folks walk into our office because they lost their home, or the're rationing insulin, or they need to find work at 78 years old. Our focus has and always will be helping people in our office and fighting for change in Harrisburg."
While some of HD 21 does encompass Ross Township and other suburbs, which typically support more moderate candidates, progressive candidates have done well in these areas recently. Not only did Innamorato win the Ross Township sections of her district in 2018, incoming Allegheny County Councilor Bethany Hallam (D-Ross) also won the suburb against a longtime moderate incumbent in the 2019 primary election.
Zappala becomes the second Democrat to challenge a more progressive member of the party in Allegheny County. Chris Roland (D-Braddock Hills) announced his candidacy against state Rep. Summer Lee (D-Swissvale) on Dec. 2.
Pennsylvania's 2020 Primary Election is on April 28. HD 21 also has a Republican challenger named John Waugh, who announced his intention to run earlier this year.