BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Attorney Matt Wolfe, who has fought the good fight for this city’s Republican Party and was one of the core of rebels who brought about a change in that party’s leadership, will probably win the Republican endorsement contesting the vacancy left by the appointment of Councilman Bill Green, who was nominated by Gov. Tom Corbett and confirmed by the State Senate for the post of School Reform Commission chairman.
He understands it’s an uphill battle, even with every registered Republican voting and only 15% of the Democrats coming out May 20 for their choice of Councilman at Large.
He’s now urging city Republican voters to join in the efforts of their party’s leadership to run for the post of committeeperson, since many wards have vacancies. He says it is an opportunity to get involved on the ground floor, and is only available every four years, to “make the party more competitive.”
That opportunity is now. To run for committeeperson, one needs to pick up a petition, seeking a minimum of 10 signatures, though more is suggested to avoid challenges. There is a three-week period to circulate petitions (2/18-3/11) and you need 10 signatures of registered Republicans in your division. Wolfe noted in his University City Trumpet, an online newsletter, he is available to provide what you need by contacting him at (215) 387-7300 or Matthew@Wolfe.org, or by going directly to Republican City Committee and reaching out to Joseph DeFelice, executive director of the RCC at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 756-4148.
It is now up to Council President Darrell Clarke to call for a special election to fill the seat. There is enough time to do so for this primary and at no additional cost to the City Commissioners.
That brings up the question: Who will the Democratic ward leaders pick? Since Democratic City Committee Chairman and Congressman Bob Brady is the city’s legendary peacemaker, you must know for sure he has spent much time trying to solve primary fights.
At the top of his agenda is how to avoid the war erupting in the Northeast’s 174th Legislative Dist. The much-contested state redistricting plan eliminated the 169th Dist., throwing State Rep. Ed Neilson into the ring with incumbent State Rep. John Sabatina, Jr. Brady is looking to get a consensus from the majority of the ward leaders to offer it to either one of those contestants, saving a lot of “bloodletting” (translated as “money”). It’s a tough one, but doable. Other ward leaders have indicated an interest.
But it is in the interest of all Democrats to avoid serious primary bloodshed, which could be the case in this district. Neilson has indicated he’d rather continue his political career in City Hall than on the Hill. If offered the Council vacancy created by Green’s departure, Neilson will say “yes”, and that seems to be a happy solution for more and more ward leaders, even though some of their own have indicated they’d appreciate consideration.
CITY COMMISSIONERS OFFER VOTER APP
City Commissioners have produced another tool for voters to understand the political boundaries where they live. It is VoterApp, which permits you to search for maps of your various districts by entering your street address. The Commissioners say it allows you to overlay district maps on top of each other, providing a unique visual perspective. Link is http://www.philadelphiavotes.com/index.php?option=com voterapp@tmpl=component#maps
EDGAR HOWARD FUNERAL DRAWS CITY LEADERS
A huge crowd of friends, including the city’s political, labor, and community leaders, attended the funeral services of Edgar Howard at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church yesterday.
The W. Oak Lane resident was serving his fifth four-year term as Democratic leader of the 10th Ward when he died. He also served as City Commissioner for eight years. He helped State Rep. Dwight Evans (D-N. Phila.) revitalize that section of the City.
His 10th Ward, under his leadership, produced some of the largest voter turnouts for Democratic officeholders in the city. He had a smile and a helpful suggestion for everyone who turned to him for advice or help.
A FANCIER TITLE FOR A LEGISLATIVE AIDE
2nd Dist. Councilman Kenyatta Johnson reports he “is happy to welcome Thomas Mosher, Esq. as his new Director of Strategic Communications. Thomas has worked for the City of Philadelphia in one form or another since shortly after first arriving from New York in 2001.
“Thomas is a graduate of both Temple University and Temple’s Beasley School of Law, where he focused on legislation and public policy. If you would like to contact the Councilman on a press-related matter, please send your request to Thomas at Thomas.Mosher@Phila.gov, or call him at (267) 241-8397.”
We wonder who thought up the title and we ask “Are there any communications not strategic?”
MOVEON ENDORSES LEACH IN 13TH DIST.
State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) is now the odds-on favorite to get the most votes among liberal voters in the four way race for 13th with the endorsement by the progressive activist site MoveOn.Org.
MoveOn polled their supporters and reports Leach garnered 55% of the vote, a clear majority. MoveOn claims 16,000 members in the 13th Congressional Dist. Still with liberal supporters of their own as they seek voter endorsements on May 20 are Val Arkoosh, State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Northeast) and Marjorie Margolies.
UNION LOCALS COME OUT FOR SABATINA
Major unions have announced their support for State Rep. John Sabatina. This was evident at the opening of his campaign headquarters, 7718 Castor Avenue.
At the opening were Teamsters Local 830 Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Grace and President and Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 Business Mgr. Gary Masino. Representatives from the Carpenters Metropolitan Regional Council of Philadelphia & Vicinity, Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters and National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 57 Keystone were represented.
His campaign manager, John J. Mulholland, Jr., announced a cash-on-hand filing of over $205,000.
STATE DEMOCRATS SPLIT ASUNDER ON TICKET-MAKING
The Philadelphia Public Record was the only print medium with a truly visible presence in Hershey over the past weekend, as its staff corralled candidates and delegates for a pictorial record of the event, that became a non-event, which is why gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidate coverage is buried down here in this column.
As expected, the state delegates did not reach the necessary majority numbers to endorse a candidate for either Governor or Lieutenant Governor.
With 214 needed for an endorsement, it became obvious early none of the candidates felt they had enough commitments, though State Treasurer Rob McCord surprised many by leading the contenders with 154, followed by Allyson Schwartz with 77, Tom Wolf with 59, John Hanger with 16 and Katie McGinty with 15. We look for at least McGinty to give up the ship, a wise move for her.
Wolf, who is gearing his campaign to the voters via a television blitz, was pleased with the number of delegates who voted for him. He’s in it until the end, also picking up the endorsement of politically active Northampton DA John Morganelli.
What is sure is the May 20 vote could well be decided by which area of the state brings out the most votes.
Brad Koplinski gave it his all in the endorsement race for Lieutenant Governor, coming in just shy of a win with 131 votes, followed by State Sen. Michael Stack (D-Northeast) with 80 and Mark Critz with 31. Stack continues to pick up endorsements, his most recent being a key one from State Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). State Rep. Brandon Neuman (D-Washington) got 25, and Bradford Co. Commissioner Mark Smith 16.
If Philadelphia Democratic voters wake up to their responsibilities, and at least three in 10 come out to vote, they could win a Philadelphia sweep for Governor with Schwartz and Lieutenant Governor with Stack on the Democratic ticket. They need a plurality of the vote as of now to win. What an interesting scenario!
PROGRESSIVES CAN WIN MIDSTATE, SAYS SMITH
Given a complex six-way race for the number-two spot on the Democrats’ ticket, why does Bradford Co. Commissioner Mark Smith think he has a shot at the Lieutenant Governorship?
He has the unusual distinction of being a hard-core progressive who has successfully won election in a conservative, rural midstate community, for one thing.
“Some candidates have tried to move to the right in this race,” he said. “I am not one of those people. I make no apologies for being a progressive. Pro-life, NRA-endorsed – that’s not me.”
He is a staunch labor supporter who has picked up significant union backing, among them the Boilermakers and the Ironworkers in Philadelphia. “We have the most union endorsements of anybody,” he said.
He is at the same time a youthful face (he is 35) and a seasoned government executive (having run a county government since he was elected seven years ago. He boasts his administration balanced the county’s books, fixed its jail and its nursing home, and retooled public buildings for energy efficiency, winning national awards.
Although he grew up in poverty, in a rural trailer, raised by a single father who was an auto mechanic, he also lived and worked in Detroit as an industrial designer. So the problems of Pennsylvania’s large cities are no stranger to him and he is comfortable talking industry talk as well.
Since Bradford became the state’s most-drilled county under his administration, he is an expert on Marcellus Shale policy and an acid critic of what he sees as mistakes made by Gov. Tom Corbett’s approach to the natural-gas industry. He’s been to Texas and New Mexico, researching the issues of older gas plays.
And he has raised a boatload of money, claiming $234,000 as of Jan. 1. That’s a lot for an LG race.
Since the Democratic State Committee decided not to endorse, the strength of his rival, Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski, who had unparalleled connections in county committees statewide, has likely peaked now. Organized labor, money and a progressive message will come through in the end for Smith, he says.
“I want people to know how I came up, and what it means to be a Democrat. I understand what it means to raise a family on almost nothing,” he affirms.
REP. O’BRIEN ENDORSED FOR 175TH SEAT
State Rep. Mike O’Brien (D-Kensington) was unanimously endorsed by the ward leaders in his 175th Dist., which ranges from Kensington through Center City down to Queen Village. They were Ed Nesmith, Mike Boyle, Lynn Farrell, Tom Johnson and Peg Rzepski.
That alone should send a message to challengers not to take themselves too seriously.
SEVEN POINTS CONSULTING IS MERGER OF 2 FIRMS
Political consultants are developing reputations of their own, which is why more candidates are beginning to trot them as favorite horses in their stable when declaring for a political race.
That significance is not being lost on the consultants as they grow their own crews of experts to enhance the ability of the candidates who sign them up. One of the newer mergers of consulting groups is Seven Points Consulting, born of the merger of Fleck Consulting from Allentown and WS Group, from Harrisburg. The principals are Kevin Sidella, John Jones, Michel and Alison Fleck, Celeste Dee, Katie Biggica and Mick Dee. Together they have an impressive résumé.
CITY REPUBLICANS PICK FOR 3 DISTRICTS
The caucus of the Republican City Committee for the 1st Congressional Dist. announced the following endorsements: For 1st Dist. congressional challenger Meghan Rath and for Republican State Committee delegates Jimmy Dintino, Annie Havey, Chris Vogler and Monica Czapla, the wife of Mike Cibik.
For the 2nd, Armand James. Walt Vogler, Alan Tucker and Denise Furey are seen as the delegates.
In the 13th, frontrunners for delegates are Michael Meehan, Agnes Tilley, Peggy Recupido and Dave Kralle. There may be an open primary for the congressional candidate with both announced candidates — Beverly Plosa-Bowser and Dee Adcock– fighting it out on May 20.
VANESSA ANNOUNCES FOR FOURTH TERM
State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-W. Phila.) will announce her candidacy to serve her fourth term as State Representative of the 190th Dist. at a breakfast Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Park Avenue Banquet Facility at 10 a.m.
Lowery Brown was elected a 2014 State Director with Women In Government by her fellow state legislative colleagues this past year. She also is the chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. “I can’t wait to celebrate this occasion with my constituents, of whom I am pledged to continue my servitude. Please come out and have breakfast on me!”
The 190th Dist. encompasses the communities of Belmont, Carroll Park, Cathedral Park, Mill Creek, Haddington, E. Parkside, W. Powelton, Strawberry Mansion, Allegheny West and Lehigh West.
WOMEN WANTED TO RUN FOR OFFICE
Pennsylvania Vision 2020 delegate Dana Brown is holding her second Ready to Run 2014 seminar on Saturday, Feb. 15. Ready to Run Philadelphia will be held at Drexel University’s MacAlister Hall on Saturday, Feb 15, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Brown held a similar event in Pittsburgh last month.
Women in elected positions are underrepresented. In Congress, women hold 18.5 % of the seats. Of the 7,383 state legislators across 50 states, only 24.2% are women. Five states have women governors. Women make up only 18% of mayors of U.S. cities with populations over 300,000.
The programs are nonpartisan to gather the widest range of potential candidates.
END OF THE SAM SMITH ERA
Speaker Sam Smith won’t seek reelection. Smith (R-Jefferson) has announced he will hang up his long Pennsylvania House of Representatives career at year’s end.
Smith has represented the 66th Dist. since 1987; this was his second term as Speaker and he currently serves on the Rules Committee. He was elected Majority Whip in 2000, and from 2003 to 2010 was the leader of the House GOP. His father, Eugene “Snuffy” Smith, represented the district from 1963 to 1985.
Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) is likely to seek the position.