Sara Innamorato, a state representative who began her political career in 2018 by unseating an establishment Democrat, won the Democratic primary for county executive of Allegheny County yesterday. Allegheny County, the county in southwestern Pennsylvania which includes Pittsburgh, has a population of over 1.2 million, making it one of the largest counties in the U.S.
Discussing the (then upcoming) election at UE’s recent General Executive Board meeting, UE Local 610 President Antwon Gibson cited Innamorato’s history of showing up for workers’ struggles. Since her election in 2018, she has been a regular fixture at union rallies and picketlines, supporting UE members and other workers in struggle.
Innamorato approaches politics “like she was one of us,” Gibson told his fellow board members.
By far the most pro-worker candidate in the race, Innamorato was endorsed by UE’s Eastern Region, and by UE Locals 610 and 667, which represent workers at the Wabtec plants in Wilmerding and Greensburg (Local 610) and at East End Food Co-op in Pittsburgh (Local 667). She was also endorsed by Pittsburgh Starbucks Workers United, the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 and the Service Employees International Union, which represents healthcare, building services and state workers.
Allegheny County leans strongly Democratic — so Innamorato is heavily favored to win the general election in November.
A History of Taking on the Establishment
Innamorato was a political unknown in 2018 when she and Summer Lee made waves Pittsburgh by challenging two long-time incumbent state representatives in the Democratic primaries — and winning. Both ran on solid pro-worker platforms, and UE was the only union that endorsed their challenge to the Democratic Party establishment.
Since then, Lee and Innamorato have built UNITE, a grassroots political action committee of “everyday folk” who “believe every person should have meaningful work, adequate income, affordable and loving healthcare, clean air and water, and, with others, the power to make our communities reflect our priorities and values.” UNITE has helped elect a variety of pro-worker candidates throughout Allegheny County — including Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, who gave the welcoming address at UE’s 2021 convention and spoke in support of UE Local 696 members fighting for a first contract. Gainey, endorsed by UE Local 667, defeated an incumbent establishment Democrat in May of 2021.
In 2022, Lee ran for and won the open Congressional seat representing Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, despite a multi-million dollar smear campaign against her by the party establishment.
In the race for county executive, Innamorato was subjected to a similar smear campaign by the establishment, with her opponents running negative ads attacking her as “socialist Sara” and accusing her of pursuing a “far-left agenda.” Innamorato, however, remained focused on “a positive vision on how we can create that county that works for us all.”
As county executive, Innamorato will direct a budget of over $3 billion, which she has pledged to put towards working peoples’ needs — affordable housing, improved air quality, and strengthening protections for workers.
“With the power of the County Executive’s Office,” Innamorato said, “we can ensure that the monies and programs in our county get to the people who have been left behind and neglected by decades of government disinvestment.”
Innamorato, left, with (now Congresswoman) Summer Lee and Don Brown of Local 506 at a rally during the UE Local 506 and 618 strike against Wabtec in 2019.