POLS ON THE STREET: Still Too Close to Call

Filed under: Politics,Pols on the Street |

AT THE Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Judge Maria McLaughlin made a stirring address to the audience. McLaughlin is a candidate for Superior Court. She is surrounded by candidates Tariq El-Shabazz (for DA); Judge Dwayne Woodruff (for Supreme Court); Jack O’Neill for DA; Judge Lucretia Clemons; and City Controller Alan Butkovitz. Photo by Joe Stivala

Longtime District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who could have held that office until today had she not resigned to run for mayor, tells us her pick for Democratic district attorney would be Joe Khan. She added her concern for the office should Larry Krasner be elected.

One must remember she was the “tough cookie” candidate, strong on law and order. Krasner was, throughout and after her years, on the opposite side from the DA’s Office, defending all sorts of caucuses, protest groups and individuals in his long career as a defense attorney. That role has earned him the support of any and all Philadelphians who label themselves as “progressives.”

What also worries her, and others, is if billionaire George Soros’ contribution of $1,450,000 can buy enough television to win more than the liberal vote for Krasner? All the other candidates running have either been in the DA’s office or worked closely with ADAs.

In any event, the winner will be a plurality candidate, which means less than 50% of the majority of the votes cast in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. With a turnout of 16% of the Democratic vote predicted by many politicos, no one needs a lot of votes to become the plurality winner. That percentage may spike up a bit with the additional candidates now with television ads to their credit.

What seemed to be an early runaway fueled by his television blitz was Michael Untermeyer, rich in the experience of his work in that office. We are aware he has the support of key ward leaders who will cut into the law-enforcement endorsements that have gone Richard Negrín’s way. But television ads have also spurred the races of Krasner and John O’Neill.

NEWLY elected Republican City Committee chairman Mike Meehan welcomes his district attorney contender Beth Grossman to the annual Republican primary fundraiser at Romano’s Caterers.

Why is television so important in this race? It’s because Congressman Bob Brady, Democratic City chairman and his ward leaders, wisely left this seat “open,” declining to endorse. That has given leeway to various ward leaders to do their own choosing, taking with them the vote-getting muscle of their committee people.

We saw lagging behind, until late last week, Tariq El-Shabazz, who unveiled his deck of trump cards Saturday with endorsements from two powerful ward leaders, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell and Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., and two powerhouse unions, Laborers’ District Council and Transport Workers Union 234. Both unions will field a small army of get-out-the-vote seasoned volunteers. This support of strong ward leaders and powerful unions has been enough to move him up as a possible winner. El-Shabazz, once a Golden Gloves champion, is the only first assistant district attorney in the race and recipient of the Prosecutorial Merit Award.

Krasner got a push from DC 33’s endorsement on Tuesday, as did Joe Khan from the print endorsement of the Philadelphia Tribune. The latest print endorsements, the Inquirer and the Philadelphia Public Record, have gone to Negrín. We see this as the first time our paper and the Inkie are on the same page.

HOST SID BOOKER discusses political race with DA candidate Larry Krasner. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Now we see coming around the far turn in this seven-way race, a cluster fighting for the lead on election day: Krasner, Untermeyer and El-Shabazz, with O’Neill and Negrín close behind. Tight behind them is Khan and Judge Teresa Carr Deni, the only woman in the field. She could pull in more distaff voters than anticipated at this writing.

Try as we could from querying Democratic leaders and key supporters, we still say it’s too close to call. Imagine a DA candidate winning it with about 20,000 votes! This is an election for the history books.

Had El-Shabazz the support of ward leaders like former City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, 50th, and State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald, 10th, two members of the high-turnout, predominantly African American wards known as the Northwest Coalition, we would have called El-Shabazz the winner. But they went for Krasner, along with the 6th, 8th, 12th, 27th, 34th, 42nd and 44th Democratic Ward Committees.

Negrín’s number-one ballot position will net him several thousand votes he would not have gotten from the endorsements of law-enforcement groups. Late last week he found himself with the bulk of Latino leaders behind him.

Topping the list of endorsements for Khan is Gov. Ed Rendell, who has a great reputation and could draw votes. He has crucial ward endorsements such as the 5th, 9th, 21st, 30th, 31st, 33rd, 41st, 45th, former Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, State Rep. Mike O’Brien (D-Kensington), the National Organization of Women and Gold Star father Khizr Khan.

Judge Teresa Carr Deni has Operating Engineers 542 behind her as well as a long history of satisfied defendants and prosecutors in whose thousands of cases she had rendered verdicts during her years of service on the bench. She is also the only woman candidate and did sacrifice a long term on the bench to run for district attorney. She has given up the most to enter.

JOHN “Jack” O’Neill thanks Building Trades locals which endorsed him and will be sending troops out to work on election day. Elected officials in photo include Controller Alan Butkovitz and Commissioner Lisa Deeley. Photo by Harry Leech

At 35, he’s the youngest in the race. He knows the DA’s office well. A late-comer, O’Neill picked up eight unions of the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council. He has reportedly picked up a big super-PAC with ties to Local 98, which made a $125,000 television buy supporting his campaign. He has reportedly picked up 11 wards in Northeast and South Philadelphia.

GOP Chases Gov. Wolf

House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) have exchanged jabs in what could be the first of a potentially exciting Republican primary for governor in 2018. Turzai, who is not a candidate just yet, doesn’t think announced candidate Wagner has what it takes to take down the governor.

Brady Knocks Trumpcare

Congressman Bob Brady (D-Phila.) has issued the following statement in the House passage of TrumpCare:

“The House GOP has voted to make America sick again. And, I was proud to vote against this bill that takes away the basic right of our people to health care.

“My office has been inundated with calls from worried constituents. We heard their concerns loud and clear, but the GOP has turned its back to the very real concerns of these voters.

A LARGE crowd congratulated DA candidate Tariq El-Shabazz, C, on receiving major endorsements: two labor unions, four council members and two ward leaders. Standing beside Tariq El-Shabazz were, L-R, Councilman Curtis Jones, El-Shabazz, Transport Workers Union Local 234 President Willie Brown.

“TrumpCare gives states waivers from the requirement to sell plans that cover essential services, including preventive care, prescription drug coverage, and mental health and addiction treatment. It discriminates against older Americans who could end up being charged five times more than other consumers. It puts people with pre-existing conditions at risk and may force them to accept inferior coverage and pay catastrophic fees. The legislation also cuts Medicare and Medicaid by more than $1 trillion.”

Redistricting Plan Doable?

At present there are 81 cosponsors for HB 722 and 12 for SB 22. Both of those call for a fairer way to redraw the notoriously gerrymandered legislative and senatorial districts. It’s still a long way off, and possibly not in the coming term. But it is a strong first step.

More Nipping at Casey’s Heel

Conressman Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne) is reportedly being urged by President Donald Trump to challenge U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in 2018. Two Republicans have already announced their U.S. Senate candidacies: State Reps. Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny) and Jim Christiana (R-Beaver).

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