POLS ON THE STREET: Meehan Back to Lead GOP

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In an old-fashioned donnybrook and shouting match, Republican Ward Leaders managed to fill the vacant post of Party Chairman held by Joe DeFelice, Esq. at their Cottman Avenue headquarters Monday night.

Elected in what began as a tussle between 5th Ward Leader Mike Cibik and Northeast activist Joe McColgan was Republican Party Counsel was former leader Michael Meehan. It marked the end of a short era of new leaders supported by former State Chairman Rob Gleason and brought to light a host of problems left over for the seasoned Meehan to tackle.

Among these was the news received with surprise by the ward leaders that the Party is seven months in arrears on its rental of the spacious headquarters. Ward leaders had been promised a more-transparent operation under DeFelice’s leadership, but learned this wasn’t to be.


They were also surprised to learn several vacant ward-leadership positions were filled over the weekend by Vice Chairman Michael Cibik. Some ward leaders were visibly upset the meeting to elect a chairman had so short a notice.

Through the evening, several efforts were made to amend by laws to permit a change from a weighed vote (depending upon registrations in each ward) to one ward, one vote.

Through it all, Meehan, whose party roots date back to his father and grandfather, showed his understanding of rules of order and impressed many of the ward leaders at his ability to handle challenges from the floor. Meehan had withdrawn his name from consideration until the last moment, when he found McColgan’s candidacy being questioned. He re-entered the race and became the choice over Cibik, who has long shouldered many GOP fundraisers.

STATE SEN. Larry Farnese’s 8th Ward Democrats convened at Vesper in Center City. Leaders from all over packed his sophisticated event, among them, L-R, Controller Alan Butkovitz, Farnese, Councilman Derek Green and Judge Stella Tsai.

Many of the ward leaders saw this as a rehash of the Loyal Opposition effort which led to the ouster of Vito Canuso and Mike Meehan, who were criticized for not keeping the GOP more competitive with the majority Democratic Party.

New State GOP Chairman Val DiGiorgio stated he did not get involved in the race, since McColgan is his brother-in-law.

The GOP hierarchy is now a blend of the old with Meehan as chair and the new with Cibik as vice chair. Both hold what is now considered “an interim term of less than two years.” However, optimism prevailed this would mean a continuation of city GOP efforts to main every polling division in the city, with a hope to win more city seats than the party now occupies.

LDC 332 Taps Rhynhart

The Laborers’ District Council of the Metropolitan Area of Philadelphia & Vicinity surprised City Controller incumbent Alan Butkovitz, the endorsed Democratic candidate, by announcing its endorsement of Rebecca Rhynhart for Controller of the City of Philadelphia.

It is a major coup for the challenger, since the union is well known for its ability to deliver the candidates it chooses into office.

LOU & CHOO’S was jumping for State Sen. Art Haywood’s Fish Fry, where he was joined by many old friends. A goodly set of judicial candidates showed up for the N.W. Philadelphia senator’s affair, among them, L-R, Dave Conroy, Shanese Johnson, Haywood, Marissa Brumbach, Vincent Furlong and Judge Dan Sulman.

This endorsement followed those of Gov. Ed Rendell and the National Organization for Women.

Samuel Staten, Jr., business manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Local 332, said, “Our members must feel assured their taxpayer dollars are being used to support our communities and the hard-working men and women who keep our city running every day. For the last 12 years, that has not been the case and, time and again, the oversight over important government functions has fallen short, thanks to the establishment’s focus on helping their friends and patrons rather than on helping the city move forward.

“Rebecca Rhynhart is different. She understands the importance of a government that supports the working class and she wants to work on their behalf. She is committed to working together to root out waste and dysfunction, which is exactly the kind of leader we need. We are proud to endorse her for controller of the City of Philadelphia.”

L-R, JUDICIAL candidate Judge Vincent Melchiorre addressed large crowd at Kingsessing Rec Center while Mark Cohen waited his turn, and former State Rep. Ron Waters and host Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell judged the pitches. Photos by Wendell Douglas

Ryan N. Boyer, business manager of the Laborers’ District Council, said, “The men and women of Laborers’ District Council work every day to rebuild Philadelphia’s infrastructure. Our members deserve a city controller who will work with our leaders to save money and root out corruption to uncover funds that can be used to invest in new projects to improve and upgrade our roads, bridges and tunnels. Rebecca Rhynhart will be the controller we need to move this city forward, and we are proud to support her candidacy in the May 16th primary.”

Rhynhart brings to the race the last nine years of working at the City of Philadelphia, first as city treasurer and budget director and then as Mayor Kenney’s chief administrative officer. Prior to that, she held several top positions in major New York firms.

Though the Philadelphia Chapter of NOW endorsement was expected, while Rendell’s came as a bit of a surprise, her campaign did not seem to gather traction until the announcement of the endorsement by LDC.

Butkovitz has held onto much of the organized labor support in the city with his endorsement by the Philadelphia Council of the AFL-CIO.

AT HER 13th Ward meeting at Triumph Baptist Church, State Rep. Rosita Youngblood, L, commended judicial candidate Deborah Cianfrani for her pro bono work on behalf of children. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Sid Booker Calls Primary

Despite his close relationship with much, if not most, of the city’s elected representatives in Congress, Harrisburg, and City Hall, and many of its unions, Shrimp King and restaurateur Sid Booker continues to be the weathervane that points the way to victory for those whose names go on ether billboards at his landmark eatery at Broad & Belfield.

It’s also the place, at Club LaPointe, on the second floor where he invites and introduces to hundreds of his followers candidates he believes will win the primary and then the general election.

Next Friday, he and Sheriff Jewell Williams will host their annual Meet & Greet at the 4600 N. Broad Street eatery from 5:30 p.m. Invited are those guests running for posts from Supreme Court, Superior Court, and the local courts, as well as Controller Alan Butkovitz. Despite LDC 332’s endorsement for Rebecca Rhynhart, he’s for Butkovitz “all the way.”

We bowed to his acumen when he was the first man out to call the mayoral race for Jim Kenney and put up signs promoting his candidacy across the façade of his restaurant. So maybe Butkovitz can rest a bit easier as to his outcome this May 16 primary.

He feels, but is not sure yet, the DA race lead is shared between Michael Untermeyer and Rich Negrín.

OLD FRIENDS City Commissioner Lisa Deeley and 54th Ward Leader Controller Alan Butkovitz chatted together at the 54th Ward’s pre-election meeting. Photos by Wendell Douglas

Casey’s Count: Three and Two for Re-election

US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) has done the majority of Pennsylvanians well and sits assuredly with little or no serious competition challenging him in the Democratic primary. And, as of now, no known heavyweights on the Republican side seem anxious to tackle him.

But we have seen him go rigid in his stands, and sometimes taking the lead in some controversial issues, such as defending Planned Parenthood.

We suggest he do some reassessment, and the best way to start is to send some of his campaign staff to take motion pictures at President Donald Trump’s rally in Harrisburg Saturday night. They need to get in early. We advise them to shoot the crowd scene, especially the faces of those among the loudest enthusiasts.

Then study them. He will recognize some, those behind Trump on the back rows, those in the front rows, and others throughout the audience. It shouldn’t be hard for him, since he meets them often at his own rallies.

The state GOP is beginning to think Trump is growing coattails and could willingly respond to attending rallies for a challenger to Casey.

One such pollster, Virginia-based Neil Newhouse, explains why: “[Trump] has kind of an anti-politics-as-usual appeal that really resonates with blue-collar, middle-class voters, and you see that very clearly in the midsection of the state and then Western Pennsylvania. There’s a sense among these voters that they believe him, he gets them, he understands them, and he talks to their issues.”

WARD LEADER Councilman Bobby Henon welcomed a handsome turnout to his 65th Ward affair at Ashburner Inn. Leaning in were, L-R, John Sabatina, Sr., judicial candidates John Macoretta and Mark Cohen, and Ward Leader Sheriff Jewell Williams. Photo by Wendell Douglas

DA Race A-Forming

MoveOn, one of the national flagships of Philadelphia’s progressive community, has to have Larry Krasner working overtime to convince its adherents he has all the answers to what they want in a DA. From what we hear, it’s like almost nobody goes to jail except felons caught red-handed.

But to his surprise MoveOn is asking its active members to pick a choice and let headquarters know. Unhappily Krasner has to know they also list the other six Democratic candidates for DA.

We could use more ink and paper to detail who is endorsing whom for DA. State reps do endorse, but unless they are ward leaders, their support may not mean much. So we limit our listings to organizations of size and substance, to unions, and maybe to the mayor and council president.

Thus we mention Joe Khan has received the endorsements from three ward leaders: 33rd Ward Leader Donna Aument, 41st Ward Leader Connie Dougherty and 45th Ward Leader Harry Enggasser.

Khan added, “I’ve made it a point from the beginning of my campaign to reach out to every ward leader in the city and let them know that I’m looking forward to making the DA’s office more responsive to the needs of individual neighborhoods. I’m honored to welcome these two ward endorsements to our growing list of supporters.”

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