It also marks the official involvement of Philadelphia Democrats and Republicans in the statewide races for Governor and Lieutenant Governor.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Gov. Tom Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley have the Republican State Committee endorsement locked up. Pay no mind to who may rise to challenge either. Witness the fact the Pennsylvania GOP hired Megan Sweeney as its next communications director, filling the void left by Valerie Caras, who was recently appointed deputy director of communications in the Governorâ€™s Office. Sheâ€™s seasoned, with the plus of being an Upper Darby native and a former member of the George W. Bush administration.
But for Democrats who love to fight in primaries, bury their differences in the sands of Wildwood and the other summer resorts in Pennsylvania, and unite in time behind their nominees sufficiently to give them the support they need in the general election, itâ€™s one heck of a ride to primary day.
Cheerful news for feisty diehards in the Democratic ranks is they may also have a US Senate primary race with which to contend in 2016, even as they sort through the bunch of bananas battling for the Democratic State Committee nomination in Hershey in early February. Although the official race wonâ€™t start for two years, Pennsylvania is a big state and its senatorial races are very expensive. Serious contenders are wise to get to work on this project now.
Attorney General Kathleen Kane has shown an aptitude for long-range political planning with a steely edge. She has hired a prominent fundraiser to her campaign team and is reported now looking to challenge Joe Sestak for the Democratic nomination for US Senate. Both she and Sestak see US Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who rode in on Corbettâ€™s coattails, as vulnerable as the polls suggest the Governor is.
She canâ€™t depend on the big bucks she got from friends and family since Fed campaign rules limit smaller checks. Toomey, according to campaign finance reports, has $3.6 million in his war chest and her potential primary opponent Joe Sestak reports almost a $1 million.
Another potential primary candidate, whom we consider a poor third, is former Ambassador Joe Torsella, who had big angels propelling him to the posts he served in recent memory. The archangel in that group was Gov. Ed Rendell. Torsella, who now serves as an American representative to the United Nations, has been out of the loop since losing the Democratic primary to Allyson Schwartz. He does, however, retain well-endowed and well-connected friends in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
In addition to the eight announced candidates for Governor in the Democrat primary, and some unannounced, the Lieutenant Governor primary is shaping up to be Philadelphia State Sen. Michael Stack (D-Northeast), Brad Koplinski and Mark Critz. Stack holds a key trump card with Congressman and Philadelphia Democratic Party Chairman Bob Bradyâ€™s endorsement. The other two are divvying up key leaders in other counties.
G.O.P. MAY FACE PRIMARY IN 13TH
Now to the all-important 13th Congressional Dist. seat left vacant by Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, even the Republicans may have a primary fight. One announced, long-time Northeast Philadelphia GOP Committeeman, businessman John Fritz, has been beating the drums for his own race for the Republican nomination. He will make his formal announcement at a New Yearâ€™s Eve party at the United Republican Club in Kensington.
Fritz is well known among city Republican activists. He is a pro-life candidate â€œwith one caveat.â€ He supports tougher gun legislation along the lines of Toomeyâ€™s famous bipartisan proposal earlier this year. Heâ€™s also earned a reputation for himself as supporting groups serving the needy in the Northeast.
But to his dismay, it is rumored Montgomery Co. Republicans wonâ€™t go along. They are hearing calls from Dee Adcock, who lost to Schwartz in the last election; Marina Kats, who had a shot at the same seat in 2010; and Clay McClean.
Then there is Beverly Plosa Bowser, a well-educated retired USAF Colonel who is working in D.C., and has reached out to both State Committee and City Committee regarding her interest in the 13th Dist. Should she show serious dollars and is willing to gut out a primary race, she could easily match Marjorie Margolies in the general election should the former Democratic Congresswoman win the nomination.
BRENDAN SEES SAIDEL SUPPORT FOR MARGOLIES
â€œNo matter where he stands in the Democratic primary race in the 13th Congressional Dist., I still consider Jonathan Saidel a fine gentleman.â€ responded State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Northeast) to the announcement Saidel had endorsed Marjorie Margolies for the same seat.
He also states he has been â€œready for some defections from the Philadelphia end of the 13th, buttressed by the fact I have the endorsement of 23 local unions representing thousands of workers in this district.â€
Still to be announced is the fact he has the support of two of his colleagues, State Reps. James Clay (D-Kensington) and Stephen Kinsey (D-Northwest).
Former City Controller Saidel said, â€œWhen Marjorie first asked for my support, I told her I wanted to wait and see if she would mount a campaign in Philadelphia that spoke to the hopes and dreams of these neighborhoods. Over the past seven months she has done just this.
â€œI am proud today to join Sens. Kitchen and Washington and Councilwomen Tasco, Bass, Reynolds Brown, Blackwell and QuiÃ±ones SÃ¡nchez in endorsing Marjorie and pledge to work hard in the Northeast to insure her return to Congress.â€
Margolies served a single term two decades ago, losing out after voting for President Bill Clintonâ€™s budget and tax hike. Her ties to Clinton should be close since her son Marc Mezvinsky is married to his daughter Chelsea. However, the former President is probably checking her polls before endorsing â€œfamilyâ€.
PRIMARIES LOOMING IN DISTRICT RACES
In North Central Philadelphiaâ€™s 197th Legislative Dist., freshman State Rep. J.P. Miranda will have Ben Ramos in opposition with veteran campaigner Frank Sileo on his side. Sileo said, â€œBen is in this race, not as a spoiler, but as a serious contender.â€ Look for one or two others to announce.
In West Philadelphiaâ€™s 188th Dist., entrepreneur Algernong Allen has announced he would challenge State Rep. Jim Roebuck. He launched his race in a video on the internet. Roebuck, who holds down the Democratic Minority Education Committee Chair in the House, has held the seat since 1985 and is seen as the favorite.
DARRELL DRAWING CLOSER TO MAYORAL RACE
The regionâ€™s Realtors are grateful for City Council President Darrell L. Clarkeâ€™s leadership in Councilâ€™s creating the nationâ€™s largest land bank. The backlog of 9,082 vacant, city-owned properties did not happen overnight, and wonâ€™t be cleared overnight, recognize members of the Philadelphia Land Bank Alliance â€” a diverse coalition of business entities, community groups, and housing advocates, led by Allan Domb, president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors.
That boost, plus a strong showing of support for Darrell in NYC during the Pennsylvania Society gathering last weekend, continues to fuel speculation. But donâ€™t count him in or out, depending on pending Council legislation that could free him and other Council Members from resigning their important seats of power to seek another office other than the seats they now occupy.
NATIONAL BLACK CAUCUS HONORS LOWERY BROWN
State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-W. Phila.) was recognized last Friday by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators for her duties as Chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus at the national conference, held in Memphis, Tenn.
Former Chair of the Pennsylvania Caucus, State Rep. Ronald Waters (D-W. Phila.) joined her and Ken Washington, director of government relations of the Laborers District Council of the Metropolitan Area special assistant to Congressman Robert A. Brady (D-Phila.), who was also recognized by the NBCSL.