Primary Lessons: Upset In The 182nd

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Three of the incumbent State Representatives who ran for reelection in the 2012 primary were not particularly dynamic or accomplished. Their challengers were well-spoken, attractive, and well-financed. The results: One challenger won, another came close and is well positioned for a 2014 rematch, and a third lost badly.

Let’s start off with the 182nd Dist., which takes Rittenhouse Square, Logan Square, Southwest Center City and Queen Village
Brian Sims: 3,661 votes (51.6%)
Babette Josephs:3,428 votes (48.4%)

The 8th Ward’s 30 divisions, which occupy most of Center City west of Broad, are going to generate more than half the votes in any 182nd Dist. election. The 8th is incumbent State Rep. Babette Josephs’ home ward, and 8th Ward voters have given her big margins over challengers in past elections. In the 2010 primary, Josephs won 3,116 votes in the 8th Ward, giving her a major edge over challenger Gregg Kravitz and contributing to her 5,683-3,677 victory over Kravitz.

Brian Sims ran a smart campaign in the 182nd District.

The 2012 primary was different. This time, Josephs’ 8th Ward total was only 1,916 votes, a result nearly equaled by challenger Brian Sims, who won 1,803 votes in the ward.

How did Sims differ from the other candidates who had gone up against Josephs during the past decade? According to committeepersons and volunteers outside 8th Ward polling places, Sims had a record of community service, was not a polarizing figure, and had raised enough money to mount a credible challenge. And what was wrong with Josephs? To some, she conveyed a sense of a lifetime entitlement to her House seat, she didn’t work hard enough, she hadn’t accomplished much, and the “men with breasts” comment (Josephs’ characterization of GOP women who supported ultrasound for women seeking abortions) was offensive.

In the 29th Division, where the polling place is located in the lobby of the Kennedy House Apartments at 19th and JFK Boulevard, Josephs received 132 votes, compared with 197 votes in 2010. In the 16th Division, where votes are cast at the William Penn House at 1919 Chestnut, Josephs overcame Gregg Kravitz, 185 to 84 in the 2010 primary. This time, however, Josephs received only 120 votes to Sims’ 95.

In addition to his strong showing in the 8th Ward, Brian Sims performed well in the 5th Ward (10- divisions in Center City east of Broad) where he outpolled Josephs 640-385 and in the 30th Ward (five divisions south of Lombard, west of Broad) where he earned 452 votes, compared with Josephs’ 265. Josephs’ won the 36th Wards’ seven divisions, 355-196, but her margin in this relatively small area was not sufficient to offset losses elsewhere in the district.

In terms of money, Sims4PAPAC, the campaign finance committee for Brian Sims, began raising money early. The first report that appears for his committee online is 2011 cycle 7. Although the committee raised only $500 from PACs, the committee did end up raising a total of $66,529.60 near the end of the year. In the first two cycles of 2012, Sims raised another $83,080.00, with only $250.00 coming from PACs. It should be noted that Sims received $14,550.00 as in-kind contributions from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund in Washington, DC for such items as research and messaging research.

His opponent, Josephs, indicated publicly that Sims got much of his money from outside Pennsylvania. During 2011, Sims’ campaign received $43,844.60 from in-state donors, and $22,685.00 from out of state individuals. During 2012 cycle 1 and 2, Sims reported $55,100.00 from in state donors, and $27,980.00 from out of state.

Sims appears to have spent $28,842.32 on direct mail and $516.78 on food for volunteers. He also appeared to have a paid staff which cost him $23,060.47 in payroll and payroll expense.

By contrast, Josephs raised only $12,300.00 in 2011, and $50,625.00 in 2012 cycle 1 and 2012 cycle 2. In stark contrast to Sims, $35,050.00 of Joseph’s money came from PACs. Her committee had no expenses in 2011, indicating that she did not begin gearing up for the primary until after the first of the year. She appears to have had a campaign staff, and paid $17,000.00 on items such as staff services in 2012 cycle 1 and 2012 cycle 2. In addition, she paid only $7,174.52 for mailers and a bulk mail permit — approximately 1/4 of what the Sims campaign spent on direct mail. Finally, in her expenses, we see no volunteer expenses to speak of in her reports.

It is clear Josephs was depending on the Democratic Party to carry her through the primary. In this case, it did not work, and she was beaten by a margin large enough so as not to trigger a recount.

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