POLS ON THE STREET: DA’s Race Still Too Early to Call, but….

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ABOVE, veteran DA candidate Michael Untermeyer laid out concrete progressive policies at the 27th Ward, where all seven Democratic candidates presented, hosted by Ward Leader Carol Jenkins. BELOW, Rich Negrín was roasted by labor activist Gwen Snyder, L, for his alleged betrayal of progressive protestors while Committeewoman Erin Engelstad maintained communications. All seven candidates addressed a crowd of 50 engaged voters.

Though the seven Democratic candidates for DA are doing their best to win the endorsement of any group that could mean money and ground troops, we’ve learned we need to see which of this city’s major unions step into the arena with endorsements, guaranteeing big campaign contributions and a field army of seasoned election day volunteers. Then we can call the front runners.

But while they wait for such endorsements to be made, all the candidates are working hard to harness endorsements from as many active groups as they can.

We thought Judge Teresa Carr Deni would get their nod, but the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women has endorsed Joe Khan for district attorney. Philadelphia NOW has been around a long time, and makes its advocacies felt in its campaigns for equal pay for women, abortion, immigration reform and rights.

“Nearly every candidate is talking about reform, but the only candidate who is talking about women, without being prompted or asked, is Joe Khan. I have not heard one other candidate in any forum discuss rape culture and sexism and how that negatively affects all women seeking justice in our city,” said Samantha Pearson, NOW’s secretary.

“When you take into account the blatant racism, coupled with the overt sexism, in the current DA’s office, it is no surprise women of color are the most underserved population in our city. Joe has sought justice for these women as a prosecutor and he will ensure justice for them as our District Attorney,” said Natalie Catin-St. Louis, NOW’s president.

This same organization expectantly endorsed Rebecca Rhynhart for city controller. She is challenging Controller Alan Butkovitz.

INSIDE THE Phila. Technician Training Institute, L-R, State Rep. Donna Bullock, Lt. Gov. Mike Stack and the school’s co-founder Donal Jackson explore technical training as a pathway for returning citizens. It is part of the lieutenant governor’s “Pathways to Pardons” program to erase criminal records in deserving cases in ways that lead to productive citizenship. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Malcolm Kenyatta, president of NOW’s Education Fund, said, “Joe and Rebecca are a needed breath of fresh air for Philadelphia’s women and families. Many people overlook the very important role of the city controller. It is often overshadowed by the race for district attorney, but NOW is very excited that such a well-qualified woman as Rebecca is running for the job. At a time when everyone is concerned with reforming our government and ensuring that money is being well spent and used in making Philadelphians’ lives better, Rebecca is the obvious choice.”

NOW has also chosen to endorse the following judicial candidates for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and Philadelphia Municipal Court. For Common Pleas: Zac Shaffer, Vikki Kristiansson, Betsy Wahl, Lucretia Clemons, and Dan Sulman. For Municipal Court: Marissa Brumbach.

Compare NOW’s list to the Liberty City LGBTQ endorsements – for Superior Court: Maria McLaughlin, Geoffrey Moulton and Carolyn Nichols. For Commonwealth Court: Ellen Ceisler and Todd Eagen. For Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas: Lucretia Clemons, Mark Cohen, Vikki Kristiansson, Danyl Patterson, Henry Sias, Zac Shaffer, Dan Sulman, Stella Tsai and Betsy Wahl. For Philadelphia Municipal Court: Marissa Brumbach and George Twardy.

Both are pretty much aligned.

Khan’s endorsement by Gov. Ed Rendell hasn’t earned him the good wishes of the ward leaders who are vital in this campaign. They see Rendell’s attack on ward leaders’ powers trending him from friend to foe. Many of them will ignore his endorsement.

MAGGIANO’S Little Italy drew scores of supporters from all over the city for Municipal Court candidate Marissa Brumbach, among them, L-R, Ward Leader Harold James, Eric Lerner, DCC ace Charlie Bernard, Brumbach, Dan Sullivan, Ward Leader Billy Dolbow, Fortunato Perri, Jr. and Brian McMonagle. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Balancing the NOW call, this week, a group of high-powered, well-known women announced their endorsement for Rich Negrín. They included Katie McGinty, State Rep. Donna Bullock, Bonnie Camarda, Nora Eisenhower, Rochelle Bilal and Karen McRory-Negrín.

Their endorsement joins those Negrín has received from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, the Guardian Civic Association, the president of the Spanish American Law Enforcement Association and the Pennsylvania Democratic Latino Caucus.

Negrín has been working the Democratic ward leaders hard, and reports are he has locked in a good number of the Party’s white leaders. The two factions of ward leaders of color are nearing decisions.

Working his backyard field of support is Larry Krasner, reaching out to and getting endorsements from the

JUDICIAL candidate Rania Major, who enjoys a strong ballot position in the Common Pleas Court race, rallied her supporters and campaign workers at the Field House in Center City this week.

groups for which he has labored most of his law career. Coming out strong among these was the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, considered to be the largest political organization among the voters in those groups.

“I’m deeply honored to have received the endorsement of Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club,” said Krasner. “But no more honored than I have been to represent members of the LGBTQ+ and associated communities over the past 25 years in the struggle for equal justice. As district attorney, I vow to uphold the law for all Philadelphians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. I will continue to fight for the civil rights of everyone in our city.”
Krasner’s campaign has other key endorsements, including Philly for Change; Pennsylvania Working Families Party; Pennsylvania Federation Brotherhood of

50TH WARD LEADER Pete Lyde held a well-attended Candidates Night at CCP in Oak Lane. The 50th Ward has long been a powerhouse of voter turnout, with knowledgeable and active citizens, being wooed here by judicial aspirant Mark Cohen. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Maintenance of Way Employees-IBT; BLOC (Build, Lead, Organize, Campaign); and Reclaim Philadelphia. It looks as if he is succeeding in locking up the city’s liberal-leaning voters. Krasner has tried thousands of jury and bench trials in criminal and civil court and represented countless defendants arrested for free speech activity.

The only woman in the campaign for DA is Judge Teresa Deni Carr, who is finding her 21 years of service on the Municipal Court has earned her the support of many of this city’s lawyers for her prudent decisions, both for and against.

In the meantime, making his face familiar, and presenting a strong image as the candidate of choice for DA, is Michael Untermeyer. His message is simple: the criminal-justice system is broken, but he has ideas and independence to truly reform the office.

GREG SPEARMAN’S 60th Ward in W. Phila. invited municipal candidates to its fundraiser. Among the crowd were, L-R, Spearman, activist Brenda Reavis, judicial hopeful Rania Major, Ward Leader Pete Wilson, Councilman Derek Green and endorsed judicial aspirant Marissa Brumbach. Photo by Wendell Douglas

He served for 15 years as a prosecutor in Philadelphia, including as an assistant district attorney, deputy attorney general and senior deputy attorney general.

A sign his campaign is growing followers is the fact he hired a press secretary.

Tariq El-Shabazz is moving everywhere he feels he can garner support. One of those is Philadelphia’s Muslim community. It’s vibrant, politically hep and looking to get more elected officials who reflect its concerns. He can pull this one off if LDC 332 endorses him.

Here is why! Registrations just topped over 11,000 for this primary by Tuesday’s deadline. That is a sure sign this primary will not enjoy much of a turnout. In that case, let’s do some math.

Democrats eligible to vote are nudging just about 800,000. So we have seven candidates hoping to wind up top dog. Television is the key. If Untermeyer maintains and maybe increases his buy on our local television stations he becomes the candidate to beat.

Estimates of the May 16 turnout from the pros, who keep the records range from 6% to 18%. Whatever percentage you pick, the voter turnout will be low – and lower if temperatures hover around 85 degrees, sending voting folks to the casinos in Atlantic City, and others to Wildwood. We see a big chance for union participation to make a difference.

CITY Revenue Dept. Chief Collections Officer Frank Breslin spoke at a drive to increase EITC filings in Phila. as Apr. 15 loomed. Joining him were, L-R, Penna. Treasurer Joe Torsella, State Sen. Vincent Hughes, among others. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Rhynhart, Butko Debates Will Be on Television

Wonder of wonders: two moments when the race for city controller will dominate this primary. Both Rebecca Rhynhart, Democratic candidate for city controller, and Alan Butkovitz, Democratic incumbent, have agreed to participate in two debates in the weeks leading up to the Democratic primary, which will take place on Tuesday, May 16.

The first debate will be hosted by the Chestnut Hill Local and will take place on Thursday, April 27, 7-8:30 p.m., at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. This debate will be moderated by Holly Otterbein of Philadelphia magazine and Pete Mazzaccaro, editor of the Chestnut Hill Local.

The second debate will be co-hosted by The Philadelphia Citizen and the Committee of Seventy, and will take place on Tuesday, May 9, 6-7:30 p.m., at Industrious Philadelphia in Center City. This debate will be moderated by former Inquirer editor and WHYY Newsworks VP Chris Satullo. It will be co-sponsored by the Crosstown Coalition, Philadelphia 3.0 and the League of Women Voters of Philadelphia. It will be streamed live on Facebook.

“I look forward to talking about the issues affecting the city and discussing my vision for the future of Philadelphia,” said Rhynhart. “I am running to be an independent voice in city government and do more to eliminate wasteful spending, improve efficiency and ensure taxpayer dollars are being appropriately allocated towards needed city services. I hope these debates will remind Philadelphians of the importance of the role of the city controller and encourage them to go to the polls to vote in the Democratic primary on May 16.”

Rebecca has 15 years of financial experience, having spent the last nine years working at the City of Philadelphia, first as city treasurer and budget director and then as Mayor Kenney’s chief administrative officer.

Unless either debate makes it to television, she won’t get much of a bump, lucky for Alan. But Ed Rendell announced his endorsement for her this week, creating a stir and making people wonder if she will gain more traction.

Rumors Float of FBI Probes

Once again the phones went ballistic as the word went out the Feds have dropped more target letters on the local population. A source we have come to trust informs us still more to come, the majority just seeking information.
It’s tough to function normally when those who feel they are potential criminal targets keep hearing the news and wondering, not if indictments will follow, but when.

Casey to Face Hardballs

It’s US Sen. Bob Casey’s turn at the bat, and it is expected he’ll hit another homer.The only group feeling he could strike out are the Republicans. Their leadership is looking to see which of the announced GOP challengers will win the primary and if that challenger has sparked his party’s followers. Then a ton of money is expected for that individual’s campaign against Casey. Remember the word: “sparked.”

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