BY JOE SHAHEELI/ Moving into the center arena among Philadelphiaâ€™s legislative primary battles is the 173rd.
The reason is the â€œalmost at the last minuteâ€ entry of Dennis Kilderry, who is disputing that seat with Democratic Party-endorsed nominee Michael Driscoll.
His entry has caused a split among major unions, which almost always follow the rule of supporting incumbents or Democratic Party endorsements.
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and several locals in the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council have endorsed Kilderry, a 20-year member of Asbestos Workers Local 14.
No sooner had Driscoll announced his intention to run, replacing retiring State Rep. Mike McGeehan (D-Northeast), this popular restaurateur with a well-known Philadelphia name received the party endorsement and was considered a shoo-in.
Driscoll has a long history of service throughout the city as well as in the district. He has the endorsements of FOP Lodge 5, Firefighters Local 22, Councilman Bobby Henon and State Rep. Ed Neilson (D-Northeast) as well as Local 98. He has served on many boards and charities.
Despite these contenders, 49-year-old Holmesburg businessman Paul DeFinis is making his first run at public office, as the third entry. Though he has solid neighborhood credentials, his background in politics isnâ€™t strong enough to give him a betting edge. He has the support of the Upper Holmesburg Civic Association, though, which he helped found.
Kilderry turned heads when he submitted his nominating petitions along with a slew of committee petitions in the 55th Ward. He then picked up labor endorsements. He is a member of the executive board of Local 14, Heat & Frost Insulators & Allied Workers, in which he serves as Sergeant at Arms.
At a breakfast hosted at its headquarters, Business Mgr.-/Financial & Corresponding Secretary Stephen F. Pettit declared the localâ€™s support and welcomed other building-trades unions present to join in â€œfinally putting into the legislator one of our own.â€
Also supportive is another of laborâ€™s own, Plumbers Union 690 Business Mgr. John Kane, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 26th Senatorial Dist. His union endorsed Kilderry as well.
Pat Eiding, president of the Philadelphia Council of AFL-CIO, and former head of Local 14, urged the building trades locals to support Kilderry, saying, â€œWe need our own members in office to best represent union interests in Harrisburg.â€
Kilderry, 38, is married, has one child, and has lived most of his life in the heart of Tacony. Heâ€™s strong in the southern tier of the district. Driscoll, well known for his restaurants â€“ Finniganâ€™s Wake on Spring Garden Street and Ashburner Inn in the Far Northeast â€“ is stronger in the northern tier of the district.
What makes Kilderry a serious challenger to an endorsed Democratic candidate is the fact he has been a 55th Ward committeeman in the district for 20 years. He has been â€œknocking at doors from the age of nineâ€ when he first volunteered for his grandfather Vincent Lowry and later campaigned for his uncle Traffic Court Judge Michael Lowry. He worked closely with, and learned from, long-time professional consultant Bob Oâ€™Brien, who was helping Vincent unseat State Rep. Frank Gleason as leader of the 55th.
He admits to deciding, â€œalmost at deadline,â€ to also file committee petitions in the 55th to ensure â€œI donâ€™t miss out on voters who want to support me.â€He said volunteering for retiring Rep. McGeehan was a major experience. â€œHe drilled into my psyche, â€˜knock at doors.â€™ And I have done that in the entire district for McGeehan for years.â€
The Pennsylvania AFL-CIO has also endorsed State Rep. Mark Cohen (D-Northeast) for reelection, as did Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council.
13TH COULD HYPE VOTER TURNOUT
Locals have a habit of knocking off candidates prematurely.
They did so early on when they met Dr. Val Arkoosh, one of the four running for the 13th District Democratic seat. They began discounting State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Northeast), when it was learned two local State Senators and a couple of ward leaders announced their support for Marjorie Margolies, who had the formidable team of Jonathan Saidel and Ken Smukler behind her. Add to that the belief Margoliesâ€™ in-law President Bill Clinton would be the financial cream on her cake. He appeared at a fundraiser for her, which may have produced some money, but no voter movement in the polls.
None to whom we have spoken, including ourselves, have counted State Sen. Daylin Leach as a factor, though he does have the pothead brigade solidly committed to him, if one can get them to the polls on election day.
For now we see Boyle leading the quartet, with an edge due to the fact he is endorsed by the Philadelphia Democratic Party along with scores of union locals. He is also the only candidate from the Philadelphia portion of the district. This past week he picked up endorsements, from former and first woman Sheriff of Philadelphia Barbara Deeley. Heâ€™s also number one on the ballot, good for many votes where polls are missing campaign workers. Another plus: Unopposed for his 170th Legislative District seat, it behooves potential candidates in that district to work to see to it he succeeds â€“ and vacates the seat for them.
Not to be counted out, Dr. Arkoosh has been selected as part of a Womenâ€™s Campaign Fundâ€™s drive. The initiative is a national push to highlight 40 women, hand-selected by WCF, running for office across the country. All are challenging the status quo and changing the way we look at politics.
â€œWomenâ€™s Campaign Fund has been with me since the beginning of my campaign last year, and Iâ€™m honored to be selected for their â€˜Game Changerâ€™ initiative,â€ said Arkoosh. â€œWCF believes that we change the political game by changing the players. Thatâ€™s how weâ€™re going to challenge the status quo and stand up for the most critical issues facing women and families in our communities.â€
Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-Northeast) was another â€œGame Changerâ€ named.
Since the 13th was the bouquet Schwartz threw out to her colleagues when she announced for Governor, the expected higher-than-normal turnout of voters generated by the 13th Dist. contestants should spike her chances in the gubernatorial race.
JUDGE JIMMY MOORE SEEKS 32ND WARD POST
Judge Jimmy Moore, 63, who resigned from the bench after serving almost 12 years to run in a congressional campaign, still feels the urge to contribute to the political and social systems of this city.
Moore, from the 32nd Ward in Strawberry Mansion, is challenging Gary Williams, who had replaced Council President Darrell Clarke. He is a committeeman and now is a busy practicing attorney.
He explains, â€œIâ€™m forced to challenge Williams. He is actually failing in his responsibility as a ward leader, leaving almost half of the divisions unmanned by not filing committee people for those divisions.â€
Propelling his challenge is the fact Judge Moore believes he can exert more pressure on city and state elected officials to give more support to re-entry programs he has long supported. â€œI realize these programs and others do not work well without the ability of being able to create more jobs. Itâ€™s an obsession of mine.â€
He knows there are a lot of things that need to be done for the benefit of the 32nd Ward. â€œOur committee men and women are crying out for change. As the leader, I will make that happen.â€
Judge Moore is fighting an uphill battle, since he didnâ€™t file any committee people. â€œI decided against that strategy because the members of the wardâ€™s executive committee know me and trust what I have to say.â€
BUTKOVITZ ADDS TOP CONSULTANT TO TEAM
Those of you wondering whatâ€™s going on with the race for the next Mayor of Philadelphia, itâ€™s time to ask ourselves why Controller Alan Butkovitz has signed up Michiganâ€™s Joe Slade White and Co., Inc.
For sure, itâ€™s not to begin analyzing his next run For City Controller. He has a lock on it, as did his predecessor Jonathan Saidel.
Letâ€™s look at White and then answer the question.
Joe Slade White was named the 2014 National Democratic Strategist of the Year by the American Association of Political Consultants for his work winning the incredible come-from-behind write-in campaign for Mike Duggan for Mayor of Detroit. Â One Detroit reporter called Dugganâ€™s remarkable victory â€œextremely rare, like a unicorn.â€
Joe Slade White & Co. was honored with 10 total Pollie Awards for Advertising Excellence. The awards ceremony is held every year to honor the previous yearâ€™s best work in political advertising and communications. The Pollie Awards have often been referred to as the â€œOscars of Political Advertising.â€
Joe Slade White & Co. has been awarded more â€œPolliesâ€ for excellence in political television than any other Democratic media consultant.Â In the last five years alone, the firm has won 40 Pollies. A 40-year veteran of over 400 political campaigns nationwide, Joe Slade White has compiled a lifetime winning record of over 75%. Clients have included presidential candidates, US Senators, Governors, Members of Congress and Mayors, as well as statewide and local initiatives, and Fortune 500 corporations.
Now, if you have to ask why, then you have little or no understanding of the political currents that run daily under the feet of this cityâ€™s politicians and political aspirants.
For those, it is plain Controller Butkovitz, who regularly uncovers misuse or extravagant spending of tax dollars, is getting ready to shape an image that will make him a viable candidate for Mayor, and not just an â€œaccountant-typeâ€ politician.
He canâ€™t announce for Mayor, or even hint at it, unless Councilman David Ohâ€™s charter change proposal, which eliminates having to run if seeking another seat, passes in this primary.
How does White plan to imbue the Butkovitz image, as he is now recognized by voters, with a warm smile?
Mayor Michael Nutter owes his first election to a commercial featuring his daughter. Wolf for Governor is gamboling along with his Jeep. Maybe Butkovitz with a big broom and sharp pencil? In any event, if successful, White could mark Philadelphia as his conquering of a new summit.
CITY COMMISSIONERSâ€™ WEBSITE HAS IT ALL
Need to know who drew what ballot position, what are their numbers on the ballot, how to make sure you are registered â€¦ and hundreds of questions more? Go to the Philadelphia City Commissionersâ€™ website. It has all the answers for every conceivable question.
For the political happenings weekly and stories behind the scenes, then of course, we recommend ourselves â€“ the stateâ€™s only labor and political weekly print publication.
WHOâ€™S TAKING ON WHOM IN PRIMARY?
There are two senatorial and 12 house seats being contested May 20. If you need to catch up, here are the post (ballot) positions. The luck of the draw heavily favored challengers over incumbents in this cycle.
In the 2nd Senatorial Dist.: Danny Savage 1, TomÃ¡s SÃ¡nchez 2, Christine Tartaglione 3.
In the 4th Senatorial Dist.: Brian D. Gralnick 1, Art Haywood 2, LeAnna Washington 3.
In Legislative District Races: 172nd â€“ Kevin Boyle 117, Jeffrey Voice 118; 173rd â€“ Paul DeFinis 117, Dennis Kilderry 118, Mike Driscoll 119; 175th â€“ Sean Sullivan 117, Michael H. Oâ€™Brien 118; 179th â€“ Jason Dawkins 117, James W. Clay, Jr., 118; 180th â€“ Quetcy Lozada 117, Angel Cruz 118; 188th â€“ Algernong Allen, 117, James R. Roebuck, 118; 190th â€“ Wanda Logan 117, Isaac N. Patterson 118, Vanessa Brown 119; 194th â€“ David Henderson 117, Pamela DeLissio 118; 197th â€“ Leslie Acosta 117, Ben Ramos 118, Danilo Burgos 119, Jose P. Miranda, 120; 198th â€“ John Connelly 117, Rosita Youngblood 118; 201st â€“ Lamont Thomas 117, Stephen Kinsey 118; 202nd â€“ Rep. Mark Cohen 117, Jared Solomon 118.
In the suburbs, one special election for the 163rd Legislative Dist. is a result of retirement of State Rep. Nick Micozzie (R-Delaware). Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 endorsed Democrat Vince Rongione over Republican candidate Jamie Santora.
WHAT IF WOLF-STACK IS NOMINATED TEAM?
Both Tom Wolf and State Sen. Mike Stack (D-Northeast) top the ballot positions in their respective races for Democratic nomination for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The top slot in statewide contests confers an average edge of 10-15% in additional votes, usually from first-time voters.
Wolf is running against Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, State Treasurer Rob McCord and former State Dept. of Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty in the May 20 primary.
Stack is running in a five-way race. Following him on the ballot, and in order, are Mark Critz, Mark Smith, State Rep. Brandon Neuman (D-Washington) and Brad Koplinski.
A Wolf-Stack win will guarantee the next Democratic gubernatorial candidate be given a quick briefing on Phillyâ€™s chronic problems and why they need to be addressed. Stack is sure to take him on a tour of the Port. Most statewide pols are ignorant of its massive economic role in the Commonwealth.
Adding to Stackâ€™s support last week were the stateâ€™s three major gay groups, the Steel City Stonewall Democrats, Gertrude Stein Political Club and Liberty City Democratic Club.
OH PUSHING ASIAN VOTER REGISTRATION
Councilman at Large David Oh, the first Asian-American elected to political office in Philadelphia, has launched a historic three-week Asian-American Voter Registration Drive/Community Outreach Initiative. Of the estimated 100,000 Asians in this city, 51,000 are American citizens. US Census reports between 2000 and 2010, the population of Asian Americans in Philadelphia grew by 43% while the Cityâ€™s total population grew just by 1% over the same period.
He recognized 74 dedicated and trained volunteers from 12 local colleges, universities and community sponsors, noting, â€œWith a rapidly growing Asian American population in Philadelphia, it is very important that the citizens of Asian descent register to vote and play a role in the future of Philadelphiaâ€ said Oh.
30 MAYORS ENDORSE McCORD FOR GUV
Thirty Keystone State Mayors announced their united support for State Treasurer Rob McCord, who said, â€œWhen such a diverse group of passionate Mayors from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania come together in a primary election to support one candidate, you know something important is happening.â€
Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current Mayor of Allentown Ed Pawlowski was one of the 30.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A COMMITTEEMAN MAKES
Hereâ€™s what Ed Harkins posted in the 55th Ward Democratic Party Group web+9:
â€œMany thanks to the residents of 3100 block of Barnett Street, for coming out to help with our monthly street cleanup. We all pitched in together to make the block look great. Also, the help that Bobby Henonâ€™s council staff offers is invaluable. Special thanks to Tonyâ€™s Place, for the generous donation of the best tomato pies anywhere. But none of this would have happened over the past year without the organization, energy, drive and promotion done by Alan â€˜Popâ€™ Walker and 10th Division Committeeperson Sarina Miller.â€
This is the type of year-round activity which creates voter loyalty.
ARE DUPLICATE VOTERS N.J., DEL. PA. PROBLEM?
Since the Virginia Voters Alliance discovered there are 44,000 people registered in both Virginia and Maryland, its president Reagan George is eyeing similar parties with Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, even though only 164 people voted in both states. â€œWe are also determining the best way to identify non-citizens who have registered to vote and may have voted in past elections,â€ George said.
TAX-REVEALING CORBETT ASKS DEMS TO FOLLOW
Gov. Tom Corbett has revealed his taxes for a 10-year period. Now heâ€™s reaching out to those Democrats running in primary to challenge him.
Why heâ€™s asking Mayor Nutter and Controller Alan Butkovitz to do the same escapes our comprehension, however.
STING FILES MAY REVEAL â€œOTHERSâ€
Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced her plans to turn over Ali-Gate files to DA Seth Williams. It is reported that could reveal at least two others who have received gifts from Tyron Ali.
Sethâ€™s persistence in demanding the files be opened could be based on that belief.
SEIU 32BJ ENDORSES ROEBUCK, TARTAGLIONE
32BJ Service Employees International Union, which represents Philadelphia janitors, security officers and blue collar school district employees, announced its endorsement of State Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-Kensington) and State Rep. Jim Roebuck (D-W. Phila.) for reelection.