BY JOE SHAHEELI/ We hope our interpretations here will lend some insight into the political future of this city as we review the winners and losers of the May 20 primary election.
State Sen. Mike Stackâ€™s (D-Northeast) grueling journey throughout the state over the last year and a half helped him reach his goal of becoming the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor. He is what victorious gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf needs if he hopes to defeat Gov. Tom Corbett in November. Wolf needs a strong turnout from Philadelphia to win. The energetic Stack will campaign to make that happen.
Seeing the need for a major turnout of this Cityâ€™s Democratic voters is the key reason Democratic Party Chairman Congressman Bob Brady endorsed Stack for Lieutenant Governor and Allyson Schwartz for Governor. But Congresswoman Schwartz (D-Northeast), classy lady to the end and first to congratulate Wolf, failed as the second half of the Philadelphia entry.
The polls were proved right. Tom Wolf blitzed on television all over the Commonwealth, sprinted lengths ahead of his contemporaries and didnâ€™t have to look back. His campaign staff made sure he spent much of election day traveling from West Oak Lane to South Philadelphia and posing for pics with key Democratic leaders who had switched to his side early enough to share in his win.
Two of the three State Senators up for reelection had competition. Both had formidable opposition. For 4th Dist. State Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-Northwest), the bad press she was receiving over her recent indictment did her in. Voters in suburban Montgomery Co. turned out in droves and fled her; the bulk of her Philly district voters remained faithful, but not in enough numbers as she took hits in Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill as well. Taking the nomination away from her was Art Haywood, Cheltenham Township Commissioner.
State Sen. Christine â€œTinaâ€ Tartaglione (D-Kensington) found herself the victim of a blitzkrieg of glossy mailers, at least a $100,000 cable buy for her opponent Dan Savage, and the election-day muscle of Local 98â€™s John J. Dougherty, Jr. This didnâ€™t count the support Doc was able to garner for Savage among ward leaders in the 2nd Senatorial Dist.
In the words of Local 1776 President Wendell Young, who attended her campaign victory celebration, â€œThis great lady had more labor support than even she could imagine.â€ That support was credited with delivering a similar blitzkrieg, based on streetwork, to the voters on behalf of Tina.
Not figured on by the Savage campaign thinktank was the fact they were also going against a family of seasoned in-the-trench fighters: former City Commissioner Margaret Tartaglione, whose 62nd Ward was a blockbuster for Tina, and her sister Renee, along with brother in law 19th Ward Leader Carlos Matos.
Tartaglione scored more than the combined votes of TomÃ¡s SÃ¡nchez and Savage.
Brothers Kevin and Brendan Boyle will continue to grow clout as a political team.
Both easily won nomination for their House seats. Meanwhile, Brendan clobbered the dissident ward leaders in the Philly side of the district who had declared for Marjorie Margolies, held his own elsewhere, and ran way ahead in his race to take the Democratic nomination for the 13th Congressional Dist.
Though the seat is considered safely Democrat, look for him to energize the vote in the general election. The Northeast has a grand team in Stack and Boyle.
Councilwoman Maria QuiÃ±ones SÃ¡nchez learned being a â€œLatina is not enough of a credential to automatically garner votes from this cityâ€™s Spanish-speaking communities. They appreciate first and foremost dedicated service, which is what they showed in giving State Rep. Angel Cruz (D-Kensington) a 2-to-1 victory over SÃ¡nchez-endorsed Quetcy Lozada. Cruz has the memory of an elephant and that will spell trouble for the Councilwoman when she runs again.
Still QuiÃ±ones SÃ¡nchez sees this outing as a winning effort, since at the kickoff of her campaign team, she said, â€œIf we win one, we have sent a message and declared a beachhead.â€ She may have gotten one but it could be reversed. Squeaking out a razor-thin majority over freshman State Rep. James Clay, Jr. (D-Kensington) in the 179th was fiery Jason Dawkins, who, along with Danilo Burgos in the 197th Dist., was one of three SÃ¡nchez staffers entering House races this year. Dawkinsâ€™ 80-vote margin of victory will no doubt be challenged, another example of why every vote counts.
Easily winning the 173rd Dist. was popular Mike Driscoll, whose most-serious contender was Dennis Kilderry, who was wiped out the day before election by a report he had serious legal problems in Canada, which could led to his being ineligible to hold a House seat. FOP chief John McNesby called for Kilderry to step down as soon as the news broke.
State Rep. Michael Oâ€™Brien (D-Kensington), 175th, weathered a stiff challenge from Sean Sullivan. State Rep. Curtis Thomas (D-N. Phila.), 181st, easily trounced his three challengers. State Rep. Jim Roebuck (D-W. Phila.), 188th, overwhelmed young challenger Algernong Allen, while State Rep. Vanessa Brown (D-W. Phila.) smothered two foes in the 190th. State Rep. Pam DeLissio (D-Northwest), 194th,weathered criticism for being â€œaloof and distantâ€ from her Manayunk and Roxborough voters. Although they did reject her, DeLissioâ€™s strong base in Lower Merion Township enabled her to overcome Philadelphia City Committee- endorsed opponent David Henderson. Endorsed Democratic candidate Leslie Acosta was an easy winner in the197th, trouncing her three-man competition, and seems to be heading to Harrisburg where her dad had served. Incumbent freshman J.P Miranda, mired in criminal woes, finished last.
State Rep. Rosita Youngblood (D-Northwest) crushed John Connelly in the 198th. An unexpectedly strong assault by Lamont Hill left another freshman, State Rep. Stephen Kinsey (D-Northwest), reeling but he did retain his hold in the 201st. At press time, only votes separated State Rep. Mark Cohen (D-Northeast) from challenger Jared Solomon, with a recount seen for the 202nd.
This all boils down to the fact 23 legislators will not be facing a challenge in November, unless some dumbed down independent thinks he has a chance to file against any one of them.
Brendan Boyle, now the 13th Congressional Dist. Democratic candidate, will resign his legislative seat when he wins in November. The district favors a Democrat. State Sen. Michael Stack faces the same decision should he be elected to the Lieutenant Governorship. So look for a primary tussle for those two possible vacancies in special elections in next primary.
REP. ED NEILSON, WELCOME TO COUNCIL
State Rep. Ed Neilsonâ€™s (D-Northeast) easy win to fill the at-Large Council seat vacated by Bill Green has many fathers.
Foremost, the candidate himself has strong record of service in Gov. Ed Rendellâ€™s administration and as a state legislator. Add to that his personality, his dedication and his reputation for keeping his word.
Secondly, comes the leadership of Congressman Bob Brady in ensuring the Democratic Ward Leaders understood there was a special election and made sure voters knew to go to the right of the election machine.
Finally, to John Dougherty who hovered over Neilsonâ€™s career, dodging a civil war over a legislative district, working to pry Bill Green from his Council seat, and then ensuring this win for his former Local 98 member.
DID POLLS SWAY VOTERS’ DECISIONS?
Polls from Franklin & Marshall and Harper both showed Tom Wolf with a nearly insurmountable lead just days before the primary election. He led by double digits in each poll, with margins consistent across demographic and geographic crosstabs. Despite all of the negative advertising and campaigning that has been waged against him, his favorability ratings increased and according to F&M, those who support him are solid in their support. So why fight the tide?
WARD BATTLES BROUGHT NO MAJOR CASUALTIES
In South Philadelphia, battles for ward leaderships produced one upset. Dissidents in the 30th won a majority of committee slots which portends a possibility Marcia Wilcof will not return as leader. In the 36th Ward, Council President Anna Verna showed she still had command and wiped out an effort by Ori Feibush. In the 1st Ward, John Dougherty swept away the persistent efforts of Karen Brown for committee seats.