BY JOE SHAHEELI/ With this issue, the Philadelphia Public Record newspapers mark their annual observance of Black History Month, and point with pride to the fact the 28 African American members holding elected office in the three levels of government, local, state, and federal, from this city have amassed over 300 years of service.
The number of years climbs even higher if one includes recently retired Rep. Frank Oliver, who was dean of the African Americans in length of service in the General Assembly.
Many of them have been fully supportive of this newspaper and it is because of them, and our relationship with each, we have firsthand knowledge of what each contributes to their own constituents as well as to voters everywhere.
Each in his or her way daily serves constituents, but they also contribute to legislation bettering the lives of all Pennsylvanians. Each has been a stalwart supporter of education. The offices held include one in Congress, four in State Senate, 12 in the State House, Mayor, City Commission Chair, Council President, eight City Council Members, District Attorney and Sheriff.
Itâ€™s tough not to believe in the role of a party loyalist when your entire political career has been opposed by the political party to which you belong. Forget about it forever, when you are opposed again by the party for a second term.
2nd Dist. Councilwoman Maria QuiÃ±ones SÃ¡nchez now wonâ€™t take a party endorsement for granted; sheâ€™ll campaign as though she wonâ€™t be. It was her intensive campaign which ousted Councilman Dan Savage, and easily rebuffed his second try at doing the same to her.
Now she believes itâ€™s her time to begin building an empire. For that, she has declared her support for several independent aspirants to the General Assembly, tapping the bulk of her staff for House seats and her husband TomÃ¡s for Senate.
They include Quetcy Lozada, her chief of staff, o is targeting State Rep. Angel Cruz in the 180th; Jason Dawkins, who will challenge first-term incumbent State Rep. James Clay in the 179th; Danilo Burgos, to replace State Rep. J.P. Miranda in the 197th; and her husband, who is challenging State Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-Kensington), despite the local partyâ€™s promotion of another candidate.
Now turn the clock back to her second-term campaign and one discovers, though Savage had the endorsement, QuiÃ±ones SÃ¡nchez was supported by Cruz and by Ward Leader Carlos Matos, whose sister-in-law is Tartaglione. The Senator and her very active political family were behind QuiÃ±ones SÃ¡nchez. That made for an easy win.
Her belief in her winning efforts has blinded her to the fact she is burning bridges. Take Cruz, for example. He was on her side her first two races. He used his team and resources to help her. Now she wants to dump him!
Talk about paybacks. Cruz is already lining up his supporters for the vendetta, saying, â€œShe fancies herself as the first Latino Mayor. She could run for that office, but if she wants to run for City Council again, sheâ€™ll see my name on the ballot challenging her.â€ Cruz has one target now: QuiÃ±ones SÃ¡nchez.
Thatâ€™s why he is not supporting anyone in the legislative races around his district. â€œAll those mentioned are my friends.â€
J.P. Miranda may have his hands full with an indictment on his back, but donâ€™t count him out. The district is more Black than Latino and with more Latinos in the race, the stronger the possibility he will win the primary. In that race will be Ben Ramos and Leslie Acosta, who has Democratic Party endorsement.
We see TomÃ¡s climbing a slippery slope. Tartaglioneâ€™s two district offices account for an average of 1,500 constituent services weekly. He should check for himself before entering his challenge. The Senator has the bulk of labor endorsements normally involved in her district races.
If the Councilwoman wins, then the scenario changes, but her work will be cut out for her.
In the crowded Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor, State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast) finds himself in the lead in the all-important money race. Stack raised $362,574 last year as well as carrying over an additional $289,973 from his previous campaigns.
Altogether he has $397,134 cash on hand. Crown Holdingsâ€™ tops individual donor list with $25,000. Stack has hired Seven Points Consulting to do his events, polling, etc. but also spent $1,000 with Perry Consulting. Stackâ€™s campaign has also given $1,000 to Brendan Boyleâ€™s campaign in the similarly crowded Democratic primary for the 13th Congressional Dist.
Also running for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor are State Rep. Brandon Neuman (D-Washington), former Congressman Mark Critz, Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski, Bradford Co. Commissioner Mark Smith and Harrisburg advisor Dr. Brenda Alton.
Neuman will seek two offices this year: reelection to his House seat in the 48th Dist. and the Lieutenant Governorâ€™s office.
So he is paying the rice, recently getting a challenger in his home district. Republican N. Strabane Township Supervisor Sonia Stopperich announced her candidacy for Pennsylvaniaâ€™s 48th Legislative Dist. seat. Should Neuman gain the nomination for the second spot on the Democrats’ statewide ticket, Stopperich will undoubtedly hammer him for running for both offices in the general election.
13th Dist. Congressional candidate Marjorie Margolies continues to reap dividends from her time in Congress. US House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was a special guest at a fundraiser hosted by Stradley Ronon Chairman William R. Sasso, Senior Counsel Bennett G. Picker and Counsel Josh Shapiro, who serves as Chair of the Montgomery Co. Board of Commissioners.
In the meantime, Dr. Valerie Arkoosh has won the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare.
â€œAs a physician in Philadelphiaâ€™s hospitals, Iâ€™ve seen how programs like Social Security and Medicare are more than a promise â€“ they are lifelines,â€ Arkoosh said in a campaign email announcing the endorsement. â€œThatâ€™s why Iâ€™m honored to announce the endorsement of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare â€“ a leading voice in protecting and expanding Social Security and Medicare benefits for the last 30 years.â€
Arkoosh also noted that she previously worked with the Committee when she was the President of the National Physicians Alliance. They worked together on improving health care for seniors as part of the Affordable Care Act.
The National Committee is considered one of the nationâ€™s most-influential organizations dedicated to protect, promote and ensure the financial security, health and the well being of current and future generations of maturing Americans.
As head of the National Physicians Alliance, Arkoosh advocated for increasing Medicare benefits as part of the Affordable Care Act when it was passed in 2010; the committee cited that work in its endorsement.
Arkoosh, who has never run for office, raised $203,089 in the fourth quarter of 2013, and had $643,000 cash on hand â€“ the most in the race, according to recent campaign finance reports.
National Journal has called gubernatorial candidate Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-Phila.) the most-conservative member of the Pennsylvania House Democrats.
The most liberal is Chaka Fattah (D-Phila.) with a 90.3% rating, followed by Matt Cartwright (D-Luzerne) and Mike Doyle (D-Allegheny). Then comes Bob Brady (D-Phila.) at 81.7% and Allyson with 69%.
The vote didnâ€™t differentiate ideological from party positions, with loyalty sometimes putting oneself on a more-conservative bent.
John Hangerâ€™s â€œPeopleâ€™s Campaignâ€ for Pennsylvania Governor was endorsed by a leading Philadelphia progressive group and by several community activists who have joined together under the coalition Progressive Philly Rising.
â€œOn Feb. 1, community leaders and the working people of Philadelphia are coming together to reclaim our city and our state,â€ said Todd Wolfson, lead organizer of Progressive Philly Rising. â€œMany of us are joining John Hanger and his inspiring â€˜Peopleâ€™s Campaignâ€™, which has pointed the way forward.â€
Wolfson said the groups and individuals represented in Progressive Philly Rising â€œare beginning the process of working together to determine the future of our schools, our economy, our public infrastructure, our environment and our democracy.â€
As the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board continues to review applications for a casino license in Philadelphia, State Treasurer Rob McCord â€“ who fought to become a non-voting member of the boardâ€™s executive sessions, where such things as casino licenses are deliberated â€“ has announced he wonâ€™t participate in those sessions.
Concerns had been raised, by some observers of the situation, regarding the ethics â€“ or at least the appearance â€“ of McCordâ€™s being part of those sessions while accepting gubernatorial campaign contributions from law firms that represent gambling and casino interests.
Why make enemies? His move makes sense.
He has added to his endorsement list the powerful Pennsylvania State Education Association, the Commonwealthâ€™s largest teachersâ€™ union, which boasts 180,000 members and vast monetary resources. The endorsement packs an even-bigger punch in this Governorâ€™s race where education funding is a focal point. But not all teachers are backing McCord: the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers threw its support behind Allyson Schwartz. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has not endorsed.
Tom Wolfâ€™s campaign won an influential Lehigh Valley endorsement today from one of its longest-serving public officials, John Morganelli, who has served as Northampton District Attorney for 22 years.
There could be many more as Wolfâ€™s ads for Governor continue to appear on channels around the state. His polling is reportedly markedly climbing as far as recognition is concerned. To his credit, the ads are promoting his family background, his humble nature and his willingness to share profits with his employees. This is the approach that clinched Nutterâ€™s campaign for Mayor.
We understand he is hiring several Philadelphia operatives to help him gain support in the cityâ€™s Democratic majority bloc of black voters. Another positive sign for Wolf is the fact Republican State Committee is now targeting him with their press releases. Previously, that honor was reserved for Schwartz.
In what might be some of the earliest volunteer-recruitment calls ever, Adm. Joe Sestak is recruiting volunteers to help with his 2016 run for Senate.
Heâ€™s not been coy about his 2016 run, but recruiting volunteers 27 months before the election could be a record. His minefield could include Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Montco Commissioner Josh Shapiro and, in the end, a formidable US Sen. Pat Toomey.