POLS ON THE STREET: Special Election Seen For 170th District

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by Joe Shaheeli

Though his is an awesome task, Republican City Committee Chairman State Rep. John Taylor (R-Northeast) doesn’t like being the sole member of his party in the General Assembly’s Philadelphia delegation. He could use the legs and arms of another Republican from Philadelphia. It would ease his roles as GOP

CONGRESSMAN Bob Brady seen doing the Mummers’ Strut on New Year’s morning!

CONGRESSMAN Bob Brady seen doing the Mummers’ Strut on New Year’s morning!

city leader, as majority leader of the all-important House Transportation Committee, and as the city administration’s go-to guy for legislative help and funding from the Republican majority in both chambers.

With the 170th Legislative Dist. now left vacant by State Rep. Brendan Boyle’s (D-Northeast) dramatic and successful ascendancy to the 13th Congressional Dist., State Republican chiefs see the possibility of regaining that seat for one of their own.

With good reason. The 170th in the Far Northeast had long been considered a Republican seat until Boyle came along. Now 37, Brendan learned quickly what it took to win voter allegiance.

Boyle ran unsuccessfully for the Pennsylvania House in 2004 and 2006, losing both times to then-20-year Republican incumbent George T. Kenney and being outspent by a nearly 10 to 1 margin. On Nov. 4, 2008, Boyle defeated Republican Matthew Taubenberger, son of 2007 mayoral candidate Al Taubenberger, by a margin of 15,442 (59.2%) to 10,632 (40.8%) to become the first Democrat ever elected to represent the 170th House Dist.

On Nov. 2, 2010, Boyle won reelection, defeating Republican Marc Collazzo by a margin of 64% to 36%.

In 2010, Boyle’s brother Kevin was also elected to a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Kevin defeated former Speaker of the House John M. Perzel. Brendan and Kevin Boyle made history as the first brothers to serve together in the Pennsylvania House.

With the Boyle stamp of approval on the seat lifted, Republicans believe they have enough of a diehard base to outvote any candidate the City Democrats put up, even though outregistered two to one. How best to do this is by calling a special election sometime in March.

So we suggest to our loyal, politically hep readers, especially the ward leaders and committee people of both parties in the 170th, to look for such a special election call to fill the 170th Dist. seat soon from Speaker-Designate Rep. Mike Turzai. It will take place sometime in March, with the expectation of a turnout limited to hardy partisan voters.

Look for highly touted 26-year-old Martina White to be the GOP candidate. She has a family with a long Republican pedigree. She is rumored to come equipped with a heavy campaign war chest provided by state Republicans which will get her television exposure, massive mailings of glitzy campaign literature, and, no doubt ads in the Public Record.

NEWLY elected State Rep. Michael Driscoll, from N.E. Phila., is already at work in the House chambers, shortly after taking this photo with his family.  Photo by Bonnie Squires

NEWLY elected State Rep. Michael Driscoll, from N.E. Phila., is already at work in the House chambers, shortly after taking this photo with his family. Photo by Bonnie Squires

John DelRicci is reported to have the endorsement of the Democratic ward leaders in that district and has been knocking at doors since the day Brendan won the Congressional seat.

AND, IN WASHINGTON … BOYLE MAKES IT THREE

Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-Phila.) was sworn in to the 114th class of the United States Congress Tuesday.  He now joins Congressmen Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah.

Boyle’s real-life David vs. Goliath upset win in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary in May of 2014, in what was the most-expensive congressional primary in the country, saw him easily beat out a field of three competitors on election day. Trailing by 32% of the vote at the beginning of the race. He was able to win by knocking on countless doors, shaking thousands of hands, and using good old fashioned grassroots politicking.

“This is truly a dream come true for me,” said the Congressman. “When I was kid in Philadelphia, I spent hours with my brother Kevin talking about sports and politics, yes politics.  Unlike our friends who dreamed of playing quarterback for the Eagles, or point guard for the Sixers, Kevin and I wanted to make a difference by representing our community. We both had the honor do that by serving the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, and now I will continue that labor of love in Washington, D.C.  I honestly believe that if you work hard, that if you are well meaning, and that if you are able to get along with people, you can truly make a difference.  I plan on making a difference for years to come.”

Boyle was sworn in with his wife Jenny, daughter Abby and father Frank Boyle by his side. The Congressman will be learning which Congressional Committees he will be serving on in the upcoming weeks, and he is expected to vote as soon as Wednesday on current bills.

CASTILLE DONE IN BY A U.S. JUDGE

First thing voters will see in May primary is a list of candidates vying for State Supreme Court. From early indications, it will be an impressive list of judges from the lower courts.

There will be three vacancies to fill. Chief Justice Ron Castille, long a familiar name to voters from both major parties, created one of those by celebrating his 70th birthday.

SWEARING IN with other State Senators is 2nd Senatorial Dist.’s Christine Tartaglione with her mother, legendary Margaret Tartaglione, standing behind her. On either side are Phila. State Sens. Art Haywood and Anthony Hardy Williams.

SWEARING IN with other State Senators is 2nd Senatorial Dist.’s Christine Tartaglione with her mother, legendary Margaret Tartaglione, standing behind her. On either side are Phila. State Sens. Art Haywood and Anthony Hardy Williams.

An attempt to invalid the mandatory retirement age of 70 for judges, initiated by fans of the former chief justice, was found to be unconstitutional by US District Judge John E. Jones. He  affirmed the United States Supreme Court had upheld the constitutionality of similar measures and only the Pennsylvania General Assembly would have the authority to change that portion of the state Constitution.

Unlike the United States Supreme Court, to which the President of the United States appoints the Chief Justice, the Pennsylvania State Constitution states the justice with the longest continuous service on the Court automatically becomes the next Chief Justice.

Therefore, this Tuesday Justice Thomas G. Saylor was sworn in as the next Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. He was elected to the Court in 1997 as a Republican, and won retention for another 10 years in 2007. He’ll turn 70 in 2017 and will retire on Dec. 31 of that year.

However, there is a proposal to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution that would increase the mandatory judicial retirement age to 75. But, if enacted, it will come too late for Justice Castille.

The first step to amend the Constitution was taken in 2013, the first year of the current legislative session, when both chambers of the General Assembly passed HB 79, a joint resolution to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution.

Constitutional amendments are not signed by the Governor; the bill was subsequently renamed Joint Resolution 2013-3 and published as a public-notice advertisement. It must be reintroduced and passed in the same form by both chambers of the General Assembly in this new legislative session. If it passes again, the measure will be put before Pennsylvania voters for ratification, which could happen as early as this primary election on Tuesday May 19, 2015.

DEAN MOSHE PORAT, right, dean of Fox School of Business at Temple University, hosted Dennis Alter and Lynne Abraham among his many guests for basketball game on Sunday in Fox School box at Liacouras Center, where they witnessed another Temple victory. Photo by Bonnie Squires

DEAN MOSHE PORAT, right, dean of Fox School of Business at Temple University, hosted Dennis Alter and Lynne Abraham among his many guests for basketball game on Sunday in Fox School box at Liacouras Center, where they witnessed another Temple victory. Photo by Bonnie Squires

State Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery), main sponsor of HB 79, says she plans to introduce a second version of the bill in the House as early as she can in the upcoming legislative session. She said her goal in sponsoring this bill is to keep good judges on the bench and opined that 70 is just too young given current life expectancy.
If the age increase amendment passes and Justice Saylor chooses to stand for retention in 2017, he could extend his tenure as Chief Justice until the end of 2022, the year he turns 75.

And what about Justice J. Michael Eakin, the next longest-serving Justice? He won his first term on the Court in 2001 as a Republican and won retention in 2011, but he will turn 70 in 2018. This means he will be eligible to serve for one year

In our earlier coverage of who is planning a run for one of the three vacancies on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court bench we failed to mention David Wecht, a candidate, is a State Superior Court judge.

So our prediction of a big turnout for a state highest court slot gains more weight as we receive reports of additional judges in the various courts considering entering this horse race.

WILL CITY G.O.P. CONSIDER ANOTHER LADY FOR MAYOR?

Melissa Murray Bailey, a 35-year-old executive who serves as president of the American team of the Swedish-based employer-branding company Universum, says she is exploring the Republican nomination for Mayor of Philadelphia because she believes she “can bring something new to the city that’s going to allow people to flourish here for many years to come.”

Outside of her business acumen, her local history may hinder her gaining any consideration if put to a vote of the city’s Republican ward leaders. Working against her is the fact she has only resided in Philadelphia for the past three years, hailing from South Jersey originally. Her assets include successfully running businesses for the past 10 years across North America, Asia and Australia. She is married with one child.

Bailey was introduced by Republican City Committee Chairman and State Rep. John Taylor at a holiday gathering at Downey’s Restaurant in Society Hill co-hosted by 5th Ward Leader Michael Cibik and 37th Ward Leader David Lynn. Helping her with introductions was attorney Stewart J. Greenleaf Jr., who serves as the Montgomery Co. Controller and is the son of longtime State Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf (R-Montgomery).

But as journalist John Featherman pointed out in one of his blog columns, she needed to re-register from Democrat as a first step if she is serious, to which she replied she  had begun the process.

Featherman indicated Michael Cibik was encouraged by Bailey’s presence. “As the 5th Ward leader and Vice Chair of Republican City Committee, I am delighted to see such a high-energy and qualified business-oriented woman like Melissa Bailey, who also lives in the 5th Ward, as a potential candidate for Mayor.”

He also quoted Philly GOP Exec. Dir. Joseph DeFelice as saying, “I met with Melissa and believe a candidate like her speaks to business-minded people and new Philadelphians such as millennials and empty-nesters. Much of what I see in the Democrat primaries are ‘has-beens’ and ‘also-rans.’ Other candidates may still emerge on our side of the aisle, but I am encouraged someone like Melissa, with her strong background in business development and charity, is giving this a serious look.”

Featherman is a knowledgeable commentator on city Republican mayoral politics, having sought the mayoral nomination in the 2011 primary.

At this time, though, we don’t see her gaining much momentum as a candidate, since the RCC has been approached by other, well-known potential candidates who know the odds, but are willing to go into the uphill Mayor’s race.

FIVE STILL IN CONTENTION FOR DEM MAYORAL SEAT

Terry Gillen disappointed a lot of fans when she dropped out of the Democratic primary for Mayor. But, in doing so, she exhibited one of her smart traits. She knew money talks, and no money means a no-win campaign no matter how qualified the candidate.

One individual who may not be aware of that critical element is Jon Bell who hails from Grays Ferry. He intends to announce Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. from 1401 S. Patton Street.  His campaign has been limited to Facebook so far.

AMONG guests at annual Henry Nicholas New Year’s Day celebration were Ward Leader Peter Wilson; Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown; Nicholas, who is president of Local 1199 Hospital Workers; and Eunice Bristow, his special assistant. Photo by Joe Stivala

AMONG guests at annual Henry Nicholas New Year’s Day celebration were Ward Leader Peter Wilson; Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown; Nicholas, who is president of Local 1199 Hospital Workers; and Eunice Bristow, his special assistant. Photo by Joe Stivala

Now, sizing up a reduced field, PGW’s Doug Oliver has told the utility he’s resigning to run for Mayor. He has a formidable résumé of public service and may be considered a spoiler or, depending on his money-raising capabilities, a possible winner.

Among the Democratic candidates officially announced and still in the race are State Sen. Anthony Williams (D-W. Phila.), former District Attorney Lynne Abraham and former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo. Not officially announced is Tony Dphax King.

Here, too, money will provide the winning edge.

G.O.P. WOMEN’S GROUP GETTING STARTED HERE

Stephanie Gross, a 5th Ward Republican, is starting up a Republican Women’s Group. She believes “We Republican females could add a new dimension to the local political scene.”

The first meeting of Republican Women of Philadelphia took place Tuesday night.

Gross is a financial-securities representative and a busy real-estate agent. “I work in the investments market as the owner of Gross Capital Management – another realm that finally listens to women’s advice. Now I believe the political door is opening wide,” she commented. “I am looking for like-minded women to join me and walk through that door – and be heard!”

She has Ward Leader Mike Cibik’s blessing. He appointed her to head the ward’s community organization, working with the community and developers on zoning. Those interested can reach her at (267) 247-2389. She has a website, RepublicanWomenOfPhiladelphia.com.

AT-LARGE CHALLENGERS NOT MANY TO DATE

There could well be more judicial candidates on the primary ballot than the normally numerous challenges to incumbents for the seven at-Large Council seats. Heading the list is former City Councilman Frank Rizzo, Jr.; followed by Isaiah Thomas, who has not stopped running since missing out four years ago; George Matysik, director of government affairs and public policy for Philabundance;  Jenné Ayers, daughter of former Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers; and Paul Steinke of Reading Terminal Market. All seek Democratic nominations.

Ayers, Matysik, Rizzo and Thomas will look to unseat one of the five at-Large Democratic Council Members, all of whom will have the endorsement of the Democratic City Committee and have proven formidable: Blondell Reynolds Brown, W. Wilson Goode, Jr., William Greenlee, James Kenney and Ed Neilson.

On the Republican side, James Williams, Republican Ward Leader from the 50th Ward, recently launched his campaign website, www.jameswilliamsforcitycouncil.com. Williams currently serves as the head coach at Cheyney University, and is the president and a delegate of Cheyney’s chapter of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties Coaches Union.

27th Ward Leader Matt Wolfe ran for Council at Large to replace Bill Green last year (he was defeated by Democrat Ed Neilson). He made clear at the time he was targeting the 2015 primary race and has never stopped running and fundraising.

Other Republicans reported filing challenges are Al Taubenberger, Terry Tracy and 10th Ward leader Kevin Strickland. Look for incumbents Councilman David Oh and Denny O’Brien to receive Republican City Committee endorsement.

Of all announced Democratic challengers, we see Thomas as gathering substantial early support. Maybe what sets Thomas apart from the early influx of those seeking to run for an at-Large Council seat in the Democratic primary is the fact he hasn’t stopped campaigning since he finished eighth four years ago, with over 30,000 votes.

Foremost an educator working as an adjunct professor at Lincoln University, as an associate dean and athletic director at Sankofa Freedom Academy, he is still very much a grassroots politician as a committeeman in Isabella Fitzgerald’s 10th Ward. He has a Master’s in education from Lincoln.

Since his last time out, Thomas has been promoting a host of civic endeavors in which he has involved himself via the internet and social media. He also appreciates door-knocking as a vote-getting tool. In his spare time, he has managed to run a summer basketball camp in Frankford with about 75 youngsters participating. This helped him earn a BMe Leader by BME Community, an organization of Black male leaders.

He says he’s been bitten by the political bug ever since he went to work part-time as an aide to then-State Rep. Tony Payton. An East Oak Laner, Isaiah now feels he has a grasp of what it takes to win.

He now has a list of endorsements from strong quarters to show he means business and a fact-loaded website, VoteIsaiahThomas2015.com. He has been endorsed by State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-Northeast), City Controller Alan Butkovitz, Tony Payton and the especially strong Hospital Workers Local 1199C, among others.

CITY COMMISSIONERS’ RACE WILL DRAW CANDIDATES

The three City Commissioners are in the limelight. Because they are running, some of their duties will be picked up by Municipal Court judges, especially when it comes to petition challenges.

The majority party gets two Commissioners and the minority party one. If that holds, we expect to see returning with strong Democratic Party endorsement Commission Chair Anthony Clark. The same we see with Republican Commissioner Al Schmidt. Both have proven their worth.

We are not sure Stephanie Singer will return, despite her efforts over her term to create a personal following. Her money flow, from sources she received who were targeting Commissioner Chair Margaret Tartaglione, will not be there, diverted to other challengers.

27th Ward Leader Carol Jenkins has announced her intention to seek the Democratic nomination and is holding a wine, cheese, and conversation at the home of former Ward Leader Mary Goldman at 4107 Pine Street, Friday, Feb. 16.

Getting ready to announce is the well-known and very popular Lisa Deeley, who just resigned from her position as aide to 6th Dist. Councilman Bobby Henon. Her campaign manager will be former Sheriff Barbara Deeley. We expect at least three other Dems to announce shortly.

DO WE CREDIT CORBETT OR WHOM?

December was the fourth straight month of positive revenue collections in Pennsylvania, as the Revenue Department collected $2.7 billion in general fund revenue during the last month of 2014 – $161.7 million or 6.3% more than anticipated. Fiscal-year-to-date general fund revenues total $13.3 billion, which is $270.7 million, or 2.1%, above estimate. Excluding July’s $227 million in one-time transfers from special funds and a reported $100 million inheritance tax payment in October, the fiscal year-to-date growth is 5.6%, according to the Independent Fiscal Office. The state is running ahead of the 3.5% revenue increase predicted in June for the FY 2014-15 year compared to FY 2013-14.

 

 

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