Power Evident Behind Ed Neilson In 169th Legislative District Race

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“Take two pretzels,” a campaign volunteer of Edward Neilson told a supporter. “And don’t forget to vote twice for Ed Neilson.” Mummers, pretzels, roast beef hoagies and water ice were some of the Philly-style treats ward leaders, elected officials and others enjoyed at Neilson’s campaign office opening at 3356 Grant Avenue.

It was obvious Neilson’s opening demonstrated he had the services of a powerhouse full of support, the kind that suggests the Republican hold on the seat, once enjoyed by Councilman Denny O’Brien, is likely to be broken.

The only question remaining is “Can that power move enough votes in just four weeks to insure Neilson also wins the special election against David Kralle, long time chief of staff to Denny O’Brien.

If so, the odds will increase for a Democrat victory in the 169th legislative district race in November, when the victor wins a two year stint.

Those at the campaign opening sensed the full import of the big turnout. It’s winner take all in the short and long term.

Kralle, 25, hopes his work as a constituent servant under the tutelage of long-time lawmaker is enough to persuade voters he’s earned the job. Neilson, a former Deputy Secretary of Labor in Governor Ed Rendell’s administration as well as a former political director for the Electricians Union Local 98, believes his work experience and his lifelong community activism will persuade voters to vote for him.

Both are campaigning hard on the streets, while raising money at different fundraisers.

It’s no surprise to Philadelphia-area politicos the city’s labor and union officials are backing Neilson for the 169th legislative seat. Neilson is a lifelong member of IBEW Local 98. He also worked alongside former House Speaker O’Brien on labor issues in his role in Governor Ed Rendell’s administration.

John J. Dougherty, Business Manager of IBEW Local 98, introduced Neilson to the crowd of over 200. Joining Dougherty was Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby, whose many members and retirees vote in this district, and a bevy of state and city elected officials.

A who’s who of political movers and shakers at the event included City Controller Alan Butkovitz, Northeast Philadelphia-based lawmakers State Sen. Mike Stack, State Reps. Brendan and Kevin Boyle, and Rep. John Sabatina as well as 6th District Councilman Bobby Henon and Councilman at-Large Bill Green.

The group of influential Democratic ward leaders were also in attendance: Some eating grapes, some taking two pretzels.

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