BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Since this coming Tuesday is election day, we need to turn your attention to the fact a Council seat is up for grabs. Vacated by Bill Green, Jr., now the School Reform Commission chairman, the winner takes his vacant at-Large Council seat for the remainder of the term.
Three parties are in contention: Democrat, Republican and a Libertarian.
We donâ€™t see Libertarian Nikki Allen Poe, with a colorful history, scoring enough votes to be considered a spoiler, though a possibility exists between now and Tuesday, some of the potheads may organize. Then again, they probably arenâ€™t registered.
The special-election results should come in with a solid victory for State Rep. Ed Neilson (D-Northeast). But that is not the real story here.
Itâ€™s a test time for the revamped City Republican Committee. Itâ€™s the first time the new leadership will be able to show if it has developed enough muscle (meaning vote getting power) to make a presentable showing.
Their candidate, attorney and Ward Leader Matt Wolfe, is well known in this cityâ€™s political circles, having for years carried the GOP flag online and in print and keeping a substantial presence of GOP voters in his 27th Ward which is located in University City.
Republican City Committeeâ€™s executive director Attorney Joe DeFelice notes, â€œWolfe has sponsored and argued for many reform measures in Pennsylvania courts and submitted to the public position papers on multiple issues. His history with city government issues stands for itself.â€
With 8-to-1 odds in voter registration favoring Democrat Neilson, a strong campaigner in his own rights, and with lengthy state service in appointed and elected office, we rule out any possibility of an upset.
What is at stake here is whether or not the reformed City Republican Committee is living up to the potential envisaged by its founders. Will it produce a record number of Republican votes? True, it has filed more judges of election, and minority clerk spots in more divisions than has the former RCC. But, its registration efforts have had a minimal effect.
This is a rare opportunity for them to show they can pull out enough of the faithful registered Republican voters to give Wolfe a decent showing. Helping them is Mattâ€™s ballot position. Heâ€™s the first name voters will see, and without a â€œscorecardâ€ many could push his button. A number-one poll position usually earns several thousand extra votes.
State Committee Chair Rob Gleason and Governor Tom Corbett will be watching this one closely. They bankrolled the urgency that produced the new leadership.
But Wolfe is too shrewd to think he can make a strong showing on the basis of Republican voters alone. He has tied his candidacy to a slam against a ballot proposal, Charter Change Question 2, which would allow elected city officials to retain their current position while campaigning for a new one. Wolfe is an outspoken opponent this proposal and he believes many Democrats and Independents think it is a bad idea as well because it creates too much job security for elected officials â€“ security they donâ€™t deserve, in his opinion.
If there is a groundswell of popular opposition to this change, Wolfe may earn respect and support from non-Republicans â€“ crucial for any Republican candidate to do well in this city./
WOLF CAMPAIGNS HERE WHILE HE POLLS WELL
Maybe Tom Wolf has discovered a soft underbelly among organized Democratic voters in South Philadelphia for sure, and maybe elsewhere in the city. His crew opened a headquarters with much fanfare Saturday at Broad & Castle Streets. Unfortunately for the Wolf team, they thought they were getting the Broad Street entrance. Instead their office entrance is not on Broad, but about 100 feet in on Castle Street. Itâ€™s the same building but with two entrances and two addresses.
That hasnâ€™t deterred Wolf who enjoyed the open house as he continues to familiarize himself with city voters.
Showing up to endorse him were former Councilman Frank DiCicco and Montco Commissioner Josh Shapiro as well as local Upper Darby officials.
Wolf spread the message via a phone blast to Democrat voters throughout the 1st, 2nd, 39th, 26th, 36th and 48th Wards. Why a campaign office with less than a week left in the campaign is a question to which we have no answer unless he has discovered a surge of support and is setting up a team to insure Wolfies are passing out his literature to voters at many of the divisions in those wards.
Beside his own polling, Wolf feels Corbettâ€™s targeting of him the last two weeks is an indication the Republicans consider him a winner.
In the meantime, Gov. Tom Corbett will be welcoming guests on a yacht berthed on the Delaware River at Pier 12, Philadelphia Marine Center this Sunday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Hosting the event on the sailing yacht Flying Faith in slip A-05, next to Dave & Busterâ€™s, are James Jones and Pat Stoup. Tickets begin at $500 and climb to $5,000. For information call Kristin Corrigan at (215) 885-1331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Governor continues to amass enough bucks to answer any criticisms on television in the coming general election, regardless of who wins the Democrat nomination, which, as of now, points to Tom Wolf.
Corbett has $6.3 million on hand, having spent $5.9 million.
It was obvious Tom Wolf responded well to criticisms leveled at him by the other three contenders in the Democratic primary for Governor at their last get-together broadcast statewide Monday night from Drexel University. He was unflappable. He came off looking like a winner.
Rob McCord did well, proved he knows what to do and how to do it. He came in right behind Wolf. But he came off as a professional political candidate, at a time we think people are looking for new faces. Katie McGinty held her own, but gained few converts, and former Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz damaged what chances she had to help the Cityâ€™s Democratic organization deliver her a resounding number of votes. She gave a host of answers, seemed lost in details, and was unable to directly focus with sharp answers.
Moderator Larry Kane delivered an invitation from Congressman and Party Chairman Bob Brady to each contestant to attend a â€œunity breakfastâ€ at Union League after May 20. All quickly agreed. Another reason why Bradyâ€™s leadership is well respected.
13TH DIST. CANDIDATES EARN LAST-MINUTE $$$
Democrat Val Arkoosh loaned her Pennsylvania congressional campaign $700,000 according to election-finance reports, to continue to heat up the 13th District race a competitive primary.
During the month of April, the physician, one of four Democrats seeking an open Philadelphia-area House seat, brought in $773,000 â€” including the sizeable personal loan â€” and reported $430,000 in cash on hand for the final days before the May 20 primary.
Thanks to her personal funds, Arkooshâ€™s haul far outpaced the other three candidates in the 13th Dist. contest, includingÂ retiring Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies, State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Northeast) and State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery). However, Boyle and Leach both filed 48-hour reports with the FEC May 8 â€” a week after the closing of the pre-primary period â€” showing Boyle giving $40,000 and Leach $250,000 out of pocket to their respective campaigns.
Margolies, the mother-in-law of former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton, raised $93,000 in April and reported $151,000 in cash on hand. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is set to headline a New York fundraiser for Margolies next week, Associated Press reported.
Before his updated filing, Leach reported raising $97,000 in April and ending the month with $279,000 in the bank. He is currently up on the air with an ad attacking all of his primary opponents in the final days of the contest.
â€œMy opponents continue to attack me because my campaign has built momentum, but they are playing by their own set of rules. I am deeply concerned that more than 50% of Congress now belongs to the wealthiest 1% of America. This is no longer a representative body and America is drifting to an oligarchy where the gap between the rich and everyone else continues to grow and millionaires donâ€™t pay their fair share. I will fight to change that,â€ said Brendan Boyle.
Boyle raised the least of the pack in April, bringing in just $35,000 and closing the month with $181,000 in cash on hand. The state lawmaker has become the primary target of his competitors, who accuse him of not supporting abortion rights.
Outside groups such as EMILYâ€™s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America teamed up for a six-figure mail campaign attacking Boyle, without directly supporting either of the two women in the contest.
Democratic operatives say the Boyle attacks are a sign he is the frontrunner. Boyleâ€™s base in the Philadelphia portion of the district, along with his union support, could give him the edge.
The other three candidates in the race are likely splitting the suburban Montgomery Co. portion.
The Democratic primary is likely to determine the next member of Congress from this heavily Democratic district, as it is rated safely Democratic.
Leach hasnâ€™t heeded our advice as well as from others to talk about what he can do and to stop worrying about Marjorie Margoliesâ€™ use of election funds.
Val Arkoosh for Congress released a new TV ad, â€œIn Here.â€ Set in an operating room, the spot features Dr. Val Arkoosh in scrubs and a white coat making her closing statement to PA-13 voters.
â€œIâ€™m Val Arkoosh. Iâ€™ve spent my career working with people from the delivery room to building a national coalition to help President Obama pass health-care reform,â€ says Arkoosh.
An obstetric anesthesiologist, Arkoosh has spent the last 28 years helping thousands of Philadelphia-area women during childbirth.
She received encouraging news this week with the endorsement of her by AFSCME District Council 47. In the final stretch leading up to May 20, AFSCME DC 47 members will be holding crucial get-out-the-vote activities, including phone banks and door-to-door canvassing, to reach out to PA-13 voters.
PHILLY FOR CHANGE MAKES PRIMARY ENDORSEMENTS
Philly For Change has endorsed Daylin Leach in the 13th Congressional Dist., Brad Koplinski for Lieutenant Governor, Brian Gralnick in the 4th Senatorial Dist.,Mike Oâ€™Brien in the 175th Legislative Dist., Emilio Rodriguez in the 181s, Brian Sims in the 182nd, James Roebuck in the 188th and Mark Cohen in the 202nd. It surprised some by endorsing Brad Koplinski for Lieutenant Governor and skipping a gubernatorial endorsement.
ATTORNEY LINDA A. KERNS RESCUES BROWN ENTRIES
Attorney Linda A. Kerns, representing Democrat 1st Ward voter Karen Brown whose committee petitions were challenged by Ward Leader John Dougherty, Jr., reports a sweep victory handed her last Friday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Doughertyâ€™s lawyers had challenged three of Brownâ€™s committee people. Kerns won in Common Pleas Court, and again in Commonwealth Court, and finally, after Dougherty appealed only two of the three in Supreme Court, she won those two as well.
JOHN KANE CAMPAIGN HQ IN FULL SWING
John Kane, candidate for State Senator in Delaware Co.â€™s 26th Dist., officially opened his campaign headquarters last week. The campaign headquarters is located at 1 Baltimore Avenue, at the corner of Baltimore Avenue & Oak Avenue in Clifton Heights.
Kane is currently the business manager for Plumbers Local 690, and sits on several boards and committees in the Philadelphia area.
GRALNICK WINS ENDORSEMENTS
Democratic primary challenger Brian Gralnick in the PA-4 Senate race has been endorsed by the 9th Ward Democratic Committee and the Americans for Democratic Action Southeastern Pennsylvania chapter.
â€œWe honestly felt Brian was the best choice and he certainly is ready to take on the tough job of Senator,â€ said John Oâ€™Connell, 9th Ward Leader, in a press statement released by the Gralnick campaign.
â€œWeâ€™re excited to endorse Brian Gralnick for the 4th Senatorial Dist. in the upcoming primary,â€ said Glenavie Norton, chair of the Southeastern Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action. â€œHis background of public service, combined with his energy and vision for our community, makes him a fantastic candidate and someone we are glad to support.â€ ADA is one of the oldest liberal political organizations in the country, founded in 1947 by progressives aligned with leaders such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Hubert Humphrey.
Incumbent State Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Northwest) has racked up endorsements from ward leaders in the 12th, 17th, 22nd, 50th, and 59th Wards, covering most of the Northwest section of Philadelphia in her district. Approximately one-third of its voters reside in neighboring Montgomery Co.
Arthur Haywood, a Cheltenham Township Ward 2 Commissioner, also is in the race. He has the endorsement of State Rep. Dwight Evans (D-N. Phila.)
PA. YOUNG DEMOCRATS FOR WOLF, KOPLINSKI
The Pennsylvania Young Democrats endorsed Tom Wolf for Governor and Brad Koplinski for Lieutenant Governor at their summit last weekend.
According to the Young Dems, the choice was difficult. Both former Secretary of Revenue Tom Wolf and Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz appeared to be capable of running the kind of robust campaign necessary to knock out Tom Corbett in November.
But Wolfâ€™s â€œpopulist campaignâ€ gave him the edge over Schwartz in the final vote between the 18 members of the executive board.
The frontrunners in the endorsement for Lieutenant Governor were State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast) and Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski, but Koplinskiâ€™s â€œwonky knowledge of public policyâ€ which wowed the executive board and won him their nod.
These endorsements are nonbinding, and any county chapter of the Young Democrats is able to endorse other candidates, but the statewide organization will coordinate their campaign efforts in support of Wolf and Koplinski in their respective races.
Koplinski has picked up more endorsements in the last few days throughout the state. These include State Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 56 in Erie, the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats and the Upper Dublin Democrats Caucus in Montgomery Co.
SOLOMON TAKES FIGHT TO TELEVISION
The Jared Solomon campaign has launched two television ads in the race for the 202nd Legislative Dist.
â€œStanding Up,â€ the ad follows Jaredâ€™s campaign theme of community involvement as he has held 11 community forums and knocked more than 5,000 doors since Jan. 1.
â€œPoster Boy,â€ produced by Neil Oxman of the Philadelphia-based Campaign Group, highlights incumbent State Rep. Mark Cohenâ€™s (D-Northeast) alleged serial abuse of taxpayer funds. Thoroughly citing from established media outlets, the ad chronicles Cohenâ€™s 40-year legacy of per-diem spending.
Solomon also held his 12th community dinner at Casa Brazil on Bustleton Avenue last night. These free dinners have so far attracted over 1,000 constituents in the district. Maybe heâ€™s learned from Napoleon how an army travels on its stomach. We wonder how many of them have volunteered for the election-day war.
CLAY PICKS UP KEY SUPPORT
State Rep. James Clay, Jr. (D-Kensington) continues to garner support from various parts of the political and cultural spectrum as he campaigns to hold onto his 179th Dist. seat.
He now has been endorsed by AFSCMEâ€™s District Council 47 and the Philadelphia chapter of NOW. These, coupled with endorsements from the Democratic City Committee, FOP, Firefighters, PA Federation of Teachers, IBEW Local 98, Laborersâ€™ Local 332, Philadelphia Building Trades Council, including the African-Caribbean & Afro Caribbean Latin American Decent PAC, shows the diversity of his support.
NORTHEAST TEAM COMBINES CLEANUP, CANVASSINGâ€Ž
Joining the Northeast Team of Brendan Boyle, Mike Driscoll and Ed Neilson was a crowd of volunteers rallying to clean up the neighborhood as well as canvass voters this past Saturday. Each of them will be on the Democratic ballot Tuesday, but for different positions.
Boyle is running for the 13th Congressional seat to replace Allyson Schwartz; Driscoll, for the 173rd legislative seat to replace retiring State Rep. Mike McGeehan; and Neilson, for Philadelphia City Council at Large in a special election. They started at Chalfont Drive & Waldemire Drive.