Rivals Blocs Duke It Out For 169th Seat

Filed under: Pols on the Street |

“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 Republican 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 Dist. 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 Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration as well as a former political director for Electricians Union Local 98, believes his work experience and track record 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. 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 Gov. 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.

A Who’s Who of Democrat 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 John Sabatina as well as 6th Dist. Councilman Bobby Henon and Councilman at Large Bill Green.

A group of influential Democratic ward leaders were also in attendance – some eating grapes, some taking two pretzels.

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