Democrat Ruth Damsker said that she knew she was taking a chance by aligning herself with a better-known candidate, former U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel, but she thought their partnership was the best shot that the Democrats had to take control of the Montgomery County Courthouse.
However, it didn't work out that way. Hoeffel, who got the second-highest number of votes, is in as minority commissioner. Running mate Damsker, who finished fourth, is out. Republicans Bruce Castor and Jim Matthews prevailed, by placing first and third, respectively, according to unofficial results.
With party affiliation on the upswing, an unpopular administration in Washington and resounding success in 2006, this was supposed to have been the Democrats' year, especially at the county government level.
But in addition to losing in Montgomery County, they failed to gain a seat on Delaware County's five-member council.
In Bucks County, Democrats missed overtaking the majority by roughly 1,500 votes.
Republicans wound up maintaining the majority of county commissioners in Chester County.
"Obviously, I'm very pleased with the results. We exceeded expectations, and that's always a good thing," said Ken Davis, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee.
Specifically, in Montgomery County, Democrats had cause for celebration. The party captured five of eight countywide offices — including clerk of the court and coroner — for the first time in recent memory.
Pollster G. Terry Madonna of Franklin & Marshall College said that the Republicans did well in holding off the Democratic offensive, but the 2008 landscape and beyond for the GOP in the Philadelphia suburbs still looks rough.
"This election shows the Republicans have a lot of spunk and a lot of fight," he said.
"But the long term is still ominous, if you are a Republican," he admitted in the same breath. "It has to do with the unpopularity of President Bush, the fact that the city and suburbs are not as alienated as in the past — it's a complicated ménage of an explanation."