BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Since there are so few Republicans in Philadelphia, GOP leaders in this city should support the efforts of Montgomery Commissioner Bruce Castor to make a strong challenge against Gov. Tom Corbett in the 2014 Republican primary.
It would give them an opportunity to â€œgrow a new populationâ€ of registered RepubÂÂlicans, provided Castor really goes through with it and actually makes it a campaign. All provided Republicans finally start doing what Democrats have been doing for generations in this city: knocking at doors.
They do that in some of the cityâ€™s wards, where Republican ward leaders know the importance of one-on-one communication. GOP leadership needs to teach their more-recent appointees and elected ward leaders how to motivate their rank and file into going out, rather than talking the game.
Castor, who knows how to make noise and fire up supporters, thinks Corbett is vulnerable. But his differences over Corbettâ€™s policies and lack of action in some areas may not interest voters sufficiently to rouse them from their slumber and toss him out of office. Castor might be remembering he lost to Corbett in the 2004 primary for Pennsylvania Attorney General by 5 points. He didnâ€™t have the party endorsement, which Corbett did.
Corbett has a hefty war chest, reported to be over $2 million and growing. He got some more dollar commitments at the Pennsylvania Society weekend in New York City.
Castor could pick up support from many of the more-vulnerable members in the General Assembly, who would appreciate a leadership coattail in the general election come November 2014. Castor, 51, was twice elected Montgomery Co. District Attorney from 2000 to 2008. He was elected as County Commissioner in 2007 and reelected last year.
Also sensing a vulnerability in Corbett are Democratic hopefuls. We reported first out was former Dept. of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger.
Speculation now surrounds the possible entry into the Democratic primary for governor by Treasurer Rob McCord, US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), our own State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast), Congresswoman AllyÂson Schwartz (D-Phila.) and a host of others. We see Stack or Schwartz easily taking the primary, if the other doesnâ€™t run, because of the ever-increasing Democratic registration in the five Southeast counties. As we see it, Schwartz is better positioned to challenge US Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and will not run.
S.E. DEM DELEGATION ELECTS LEADERSHIP
The Southeast Delegation of the State House Democratic Caucus elected new leadership with Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D-Bucks), chairman of the delegation. Four women made it to vice chairs: Reps. Tina Davis (D-Bucks), Margo Davidson (D-Delaware), MadÂelÂeine Dean (D-Montgomery), and Pamela DeLissio (D-Northwest). Rep. MatÂthew Bradford (D-MontÂgomery) was elected treasurer, and Rep. Maria Donatucci (D-S. Phila.) was elected secretary. Santarsiero said the rapid growth of the caucus since 2006 has given the delegation a greater say on budget issues and is helping to foster an environment of change.
The delegation now has 21 members, making it both the fastest-growing and largest delegation within the House Democratic Caucus.
Freshman members of the Southeast Delegation are State Reps.-Elect Stephen McCarter, Mary Jo Daley and Mark Painter, all from Montgomery Co.; State Rep.-Elect Mark Rozzi, from Berks Co.; and State Rep.-Elect Patty Kim, from Dauphin Co.
DOUGHERTY GIVES BOOK TO PA. SOCIETY GUESTS
Always a draw, Ward Leader John Doughertyâ€™s Local 98 event at Pennsylvania Society Weekend saw guests departing with a gift: the book Victory Lab by Sasha Issenberg. It is a good read for those interested in assessing why elections succeed and fail.
MAYOR NUTTER’S TEAM FOCUSES ON ELECTION
Mayor Michael A. Nutter announced the creation of a fact-finding team to explore issues that arose in connection with the Nov. 6 general election with the goal of making recommendations that will strengthen the election system in the City of Philadelphia.
We believe theyâ€™ll come up with the fact the City Commissioners could use more money, with emergency funds transferred to them when the City Commissioners make that call.
An unprecedented turnout required more manpower than was available to them from their present budget. Early signs such as absentee-ballot requests and registrations, other than the more than 60,000 duplicates from the anti-photo-ID campaign, did not presage the tsunami turnout. Theyâ€™ll also find the Pennsylvania Dept. of State failed to include the names in the binders of those voters who required provisional ballots and not the City Commissioners.
Problem with those appointed, is they are clueless, never having knocked at doors, gotten registrations, checked to make sure polling places were manned, with tables and electricity available, along with rest rooms for the election boards. They have a learning curve to master before assessing the pluses and minuses of how the City Commissioners handled their duties.
The Mayor believes his team, led by Deputy Mayor and Managing Dir. Rich Negrin, will identify the problems and potential solutions to the variety of issues identified on â€“ and leading up to â€“ Election Day. Negrin is a good choice.
Other members are Jordan Schwartz, deputy chief of staff, Office of the Mayor; Terry Gillen, director of federal relations (qualified for her experience as a former ward leader); Hope Caldwell, chief deputy integrity officer; Nicole Harrington, investigator, Office of the Inspector General; and Kevin Johnson, pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church.
The Mayor did thank â€œthe employees of the City Commissionersâ€™ Office for their hard work that day which allowed hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians to cast their votes. I also want to thank the City Commissioners for issuing their post-election report on the events and processes surrounding the election, and for pledging their full cooperation as the fact-finding team analyzes the reportâ€™s findings and addresses other questions in more detail.â€
GREENS APPLAUD LEGALIZED WEED
The Green Party of Philadelphia (GPOP, www.gpop.org) issued a statement â€œapplauding the citizens of Colorado and Washington who voted to completely legalize marijuana use,â€ said Glenn Davis, at-large member of the GPOP City Committee. â€œThese referenda bring Colorado and Washington into step with 13 other states which have already legalized the recreational use of marijuana.â€
â€œLike alcohol prohibition before it, the criminalization of cannabis is a failed federal policy that delegates the burden of enforcement to the state and local police,â€ said Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws.
Vivek Ananthan, chair of the Green Party, said, â€œGreens call on the Pennsylvania General Assembly to legalize possession of medical marijuana, industrial hemp, and recreational cannabis. Such legalization would be a good first step in ending the War on Drugs in Pennsylvania.â€
Greens believe the War on Drugs has been an ill-conceived program that has wasted billions of dollars.
We see that as a clue as to why Greens talk a lot, but remain to laid back to build up party registrations.
YOUNGBLOOD ANNOUNCES NEW OFFICE LOCATION
The constituent service office of State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood (D-Northwest) has moved to 310 W. Chelten Avenue, down the street from its old location.
Youngblood said constituents should make note of the change, so they arenâ€™t frustrated by having to be directed to another location for state-related services and inquiries.
â€œOur goal is to provide a smooth and seamless transition,â€ Youngblood said. â€œOur new office will offer the same level of service and convenience, only it will be in a location a short distance from the old office.â€
Youngblood said contact information for the new office, which retains the same phone numbers, will be: 310 W. Chelten Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19144. Phone: (215) 849-6426, Fax: (215) 849-5476.
WHY JUSTICE ORIE MELVIN SHOULDN’T FACE CHARGES
Defense Attorneys for suspended State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin argued in a legal filing the suspended jurist should not be facing criminal charges because activity by court employees is to be regulated only by the judiciary.
In a lengthy memorandum, the lawyers called the prosecution â€œunprecedented and constitutionally flawed,â€ explaining they believe their client is being prosecuted in criminal court for violating an internal court rule regulating political activity by court employees.
Problem remains, the rules have changed. What used to be condoned in the waging of campaigns by incumbents is no longer acceptable, especially when government employees work on campaigns during office hours.