BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Councilwoman Maria QuiÃ±ones SÃ¡nchez has cut a niche for herself in City Council and seems to have captured the support of most Latino Democrats in this town, and particularly so in her 7th Dist.
But she continues to fly her flag of independence, despite the fact she had the endorsement of the Democratic Party for her second term to City Council. She still believes she didnâ€™t need that endorsement and would have easily duplicated her first win as an independent had she not been endorsed.
It is that streak of independence that has motivated her to field a team of four independents challenging candidates endorsed by the Democratic Party. Wearing the colors of Latino Empowerment Alliance of Delaware Valley (LEAD), the four are TomÃ¡s SÃ¡nchez, her husband, in the 2nd Senatorial Dist., challenging incumbent State Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-Kensington); Jason Dawkins, in 179th Legislative Dist., challenging State Rep. James Clay (D-Kensington); Quetcy Lozada, in 180th Dist., challenging State Rep. Angel Cruz (D-Kensington), and Danilo Burgos, 197th Legislative Dist., challenging State Rep. J.P. Miranda (D-Kensington) who lost the Democratic endorsement to Leslie Acosta.
As Ward Leader, Cruz had supported her last time around as had Ward Leader Carlos Matos, brother in law of Tartaglione. Theyâ€™ll be in the forefront of those Democratic Party loyalists ready to do her in when she runs again in 2015.
It is interesting to note Dawkins, Lozada and Dawkins come from her Mariaâ€™s office staff. Tomas is her husband.
The Councilwoman believes this is the time to move â€œlike a tidal wave across the Latino communities. If I win one, Iâ€™m happy. Any more than one will be to me a total victory.â€
Cruz said, â€œSheâ€™s burned her bridges with me. Now weâ€™ll see if she can swim safely in her primary.â€
LEAD was formed in 2009 with the help of QuiÃ±ones SÃ¡nchez to â€œpromote progressive candidates for elected office, primarily in eastern North Philadelphia.â€ It has been running a block-captain training program â€“ which may double as a school for electoral footsoldiers in campaigns like these.
Newly elected to bring peace and end feuding between factions of the cityâ€™s Republican Party, State Rep. John Taylor (R-Northeast), the only Republican legislator representing Philadelphia in Harrisburg, finds he chairs an executive committee where ward leaders are falling short of what is expected of them.
With the deadline to file nominating petitions for committee people past, Chairman Taylor was dismayed at the low number of nominating petitions filed.
Of the 66 wards in which the GOP has ward leaders, 13 wards did not file committee people. Those were in heavily populated African American wards which the Democratic Party dominates in registration. A handful of nominating petitions were filed in 18 wards, also for the same reason.
Wards 1, 2, 5, 8, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 35, 36, 39, 41, 37, 48, 53, 55, 56, 58, 62, 63, 64, 655, and 66 showed good effort, with the 66th producing the most petitions.
Taylor acknowledges, â€œHard work is ahead for our ward leaders. There is no reason why we cannot get changeovers in any ward once those voters are personally addressed and learn how little theyâ€™ve gained from years of being loyal only to one party.â€
The Philadelphia Republican City Committee unanimously nominated West Phillyâ€™s Matt Wolfe as its candidate to fill the City Council at Large seat vacated by SRC Chairman Bill Green. He will challenge State Rep. Ed Neilson (D-Northeast) in the May primary in a special election to fill Greenâ€™s remaining term.
Attorney Wolfe, long-time Ward Leader in University City and former Deputy Attorney General, and most vocal in demanding change in how the party operated, seems to be the best-possible choice to give the City GOP a gauge by which to test how much of a Republican voter turnout can be produced by its party mechanism along with the efforts of its candidate.
State Rep. John Taylor, Chairman of the Philadelphia Republican City Committee, announced the creation of a Philadelphia Chapter of the Teenage Republicans stating, â€œWe are excited by the energy these young men and women bring to the table. Many of us first started in politics at a young age with no direction from the organization. Hopefully the creation of this group will better ease their ascendance into the Philadelphia political structure.â€
GOP Exec. Dir. Joe DeFelice has met several times with the leadership of this group, including interim Chairman Kyle Adams, a senior at Father Judge HS in Holmesburg, and has coordinated an initial meeting this evening at Republican City Committee headquarters at 3525 Cottman Avenue with Speakers such as Taylor, Pennsylvania College Republican Chairman and Temple University Student Body President Darin Bartholomew, and Philadelphia Federation of Young Republicans Vice Chairman Phil Innamorato.
When youâ€™re in political trouble â€¦ expect more trouble to come at you.
State Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Northwest) in the 4th Senatorial Dist., who is already facing a Republican opponent, Robin Gilchrist, in the November general election if she survives two challengers in the May primary, now must cope with an independent candidate as well. Thatâ€™s Ines Reyes, who began to organize her campaign this month.
Reyes is a Cheltenham activist of Dominican American stock and a woman of color. Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., she moved to Pennsylvania 15 years ago with her husband even as she continued to work in the publishing field in New York City. She has a long record in campaigns to combat job discrimination in various industries. She has from now through summer to gather the signatures she needs to place her on the ballot as an independent.
Former State Rep. Babette Josephs admits her nominating petitions may be in jeopardy because during much of the period in which signatures were permitted, she was with her daughter out west. On her return, she began to gather signatures as she had in her past years as representative in the 182nd Legislative Dist.
She submitted 599 signatures on her nominating petitions, needing only 300 valid signatures. The fact the legal team of incumbent State Rep. Brian Sims (D-S. Phila.) has challenged 480 of those signatures leaves her status as a challenge in doubt.
Her petition was also challenged on several other points as well. She did not file any challenges to Simsâ€™ petitions.
Babette did tell the Public Record, once she gets past the challenge, she will open the eyes of his constituents by revealing the number of key votes he has missed in the House, â€œall vital to the interests of his district.â€
In the meantime, Sims has gotten endorsements from the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association PAC as well as Councilman Mark Squilla and the 8th Ward.
WANDA LOGAN RETURNS TO TACKLE REP. BROWN
ACTION United PAC has endorsed Democratic challenger Wanda Logan in the 190th State House Dist. over incumbent Democrat Vanessa Lowery Brown (D-W. Phila.). This progressive activist group focuses on issues of importance to low-income communities.
Motivating their endorsement in part is Brownâ€™s willingness to bend seniority rules for public-school teachers â€“ a move anathema to organized labor.
Still, this would have not happened had Brown not been among the four Democratic legislators whose names have appeared in a sting conducted by the Attorney Generalâ€™s office and terminated by Attorney General Kathleen Kane. The fact House leaders have sent a letter to the chamberâ€™s Ethics Committee calling for a formal investigation of the aborted sting, could give Logan ammunition she did not have in her first challenge.
Logan will declare her candidacy at Malcolm X Park, 52nd & Pine Streets, at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
If Lower Merion real-estate magnate Bob Guzzardi survives his petition challenge from Gov. Tom Corbett, he could well pick up as much as 20,000 votes statewide over the Governor. The reason is he drew number one in the Republican slot for Governor.
The same 20,000 scenario will hold true for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf, who drew the number-one ballot position. Fueled to top place in many polls by his television ads, Wolf could easily outdistance his competitors.
Following Wolf are Jack Wagner, Rob McCord, Katie McGinty and Allyson Schwartz.
Pulling number one in the Democratic Lieutenant Governor race is State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast), followed by Mark Critz, Jay Paterno, Mark Smith, Brandon Neuman and Brad Koplinski.
In the 13th Congressional Dist., State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Northeast) drew the first position, followed by Valerie Arkoosh, Marjorie Margolies and Daylin Leach.
Italian NIA-PAC Hosts 16th Festeggiano Carnevale
The Corbett-Cawley campaign is crowing over the latest unemployment report released by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Labor & Industry, which has the stateâ€™s unemployment rate down to 6.2%. This is the lowest level since November 2008 and remains below the national rate of 6.7%. The latest numbers come on the heels of another positive jobs report from last month that put the jobless rate at 6.4%.
â€œTodayâ€™s jobs report is an encouraging sign for Pennsylvania,â€ stated the Governor. â€œItâ€™s simple: As we continue fighting in Harrisburg for less taxes, we are seeing more jobs. As Governor, I will keep fighting to make good on our promises that have put Pennsylvania on the path to a brighter future by reforming Harrisburg, keeping taxes low and creating more than 150,000 private-sector jobsâ€.
Ken Krawchuk, the Libertarian candidate for Pennsylvania Governor, formally kicked off the partyâ€™s 2014 petition drive for collecting the necessary signatures to get the Libertarian Party candidates on the November ballot. The petitioning period began on Mar. 12 and ends on Aug. 1, and official petitions for collecting signatures can be found at www.KenK.org/signatures, including detailed instructions.
â€œWe have begun the most-difficult part of the campaign,â€ Krawchuk said, â€œcollecting signatures to get the Libertarian Party candidates on the ballot. Gov. Corbett needs only 2,000 signatures to get his name on the ballot; I need a whopping 16,639 â€“ over eight times as many â€“ even though the Pennsylvania Constitution mandates that â€˜all elections shall be free and equal.â€™ Is that equal, I ask? Is that fair?â€
In addition to Krawchuk, Libertarian Party officials have thus far identified dozens of candidates for the State House, State Senate and US Congress, with more stepping up as the campaign season gears up.
Founded in 1971, the Libertarian Party is the third-largest political party in the state and the nation, with over 150 elected and appointed officials currently serving in office nationwide, and 40 in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania College Democrats hold their annual convention at Temple University this weekend, with a gubernatorial debate at 7:00 p.m., this Friday, Mar. 28, in room 200BC of the Howard Gittis Student Center on Temple Universityâ€™s Main Campus. The debate will be carried live by the Pennsylvania Cable Network. All five candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Governor will participate. The debate will be moderated by Dr. G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics & Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College
Saturday will feature a full day of workshops. Guest speakers include State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-W. Phila.); State Reps. Dan McNeill (D-Lehigh), Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery) and Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh), and Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski. Former Gov. Ed Rendell will be keynote speaker at the luncheon. City Council President Darrell Clarke will speak at a breakfast reception and State Rep. Brian Sims (D-S. Phila.) will be the featured speaker at a dinner and cocktail party.
59TH WARD GOPer Peter J. Wirs cannot take political phones calls or send or receive political emails, or do anything political after 6 p.m. weekdays, because his coach has Wirs on a training curfew.
Wirs will make international sports history when he becomes the oldest person, at age 59, to step onto an Olympic wrestling mat for his very first competitive bout at the USA Wrestling Open in Las Vegas, Nev., to be televised worldwide. Kevin Martin, the legendary long-time wrestling coach at St. Josephâ€™s Prep, is supervising Wirsâ€™ weight-lifting workouts every morning at the Philadelphia Sports Club on W. Market Street, and his drilling every night at the Fight Firm in the Spring Garden section. Wirs will compete in the Veterans Division, Class 76 kg Freestyle.
Matt Wolfe, GOP nominee for City Council in the May 20 special election, will be hosting a Gold Medal Party to watch Wirs on TV, if he makes it to the Gold Medal round.