POLS ON THE STREET: Krasner’s Race to Lose – and It’s Losable

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VICE PRESIDENT Joe Biden presents Liberty Medal to Senator John McCain, with Jeffrey Rosen, Esq., CEO of the National Constitution Center, standing by. Photo by Bonnie Squires

All Democrats are walk-homes in Philadelphia in 2017. So goes the conventional wisdom. So that means Democratic DA candidate Larry Krasner should walk home.

But the present era is nothing if not full of surprises.

Krasner’s primary victory over many vetted prosecutorial pros was a surprise, considering he has never prosecuted a case in his life. He benefitted from the fact that his many competitors in the Democratic primary all had prosecutorial depth. They wound up splitting the tough-on-crime vote, leaving the soft-on-crime vote to carry Krasner to victory.

But will “soft on crime” excite the voters of November as much as it did those of May? That’s not clear.

The spring Democratic primary saw intense voter turnout in the young, progressive “read-and-write wards” that swept Krasner to victory. But will that wave repeat itself in November? Krasner’s demographic is largely focused on national issues and is poorly connected to local politics. Simply put, his voters are not sophisticated when it comes to local politics, so they tend not to turn out for local elections.

The primary was an admirable exception. But the signs of his victory then were visible to observers months before the voting day. Krasner teams roamed Krasner neighborhoods and pelted social media with their appeals. That campaign strategy worked.

HONOREES Steve Crawford, R, managing VP of Wojdak & Associates, and State Sen. Tina Tartaglione, shared the limelight at City & State PA’s “50 over 50” awards ceremony at Pipeline Philly last week. They were congratulated by sporting activist Fred Druding, Jr.

But it is not being applied for the general election. Team Krasner is sleepwalking toward victory. No events, no announcements emerge from its headquarters. It early solidified its relationship with Democratic City Committee; after that, it pretty much went on vacation until Jan. 1, 2018.

Krasner early bonded with Democratic City Committee. He has been diligently showing up at local party functions. He took care to issue soothing pronouncements to the effect that he would indeed prosecute criminal offenders, despite his career of defending them; and that he likes most police most of the time.

His Republican opponent, Beth Grossman, has also steered her campaign toward the middle. She has rejected police brutality and has abjured the civil assets forfeiture program she once administered.

But the Philadelphia DA’s race remains, at core, a contest between those who think there is too much law enforcement and those who think there is not enough. Rightly or wrongly, Krasner will win the votes of the former and Grossman of the latter.

While Krasner’s bloc turned out in big numbers in May, we don’t know if they will repeat in November. Meanwhile, anti-Krasner wards, especially in the Northeast, saw depressed Democratic voter turnout. What will those disaffected voters do on Nov. 7 – sit at home or defect to Grossman?

All eyes are on the Trump phenomenon nationally. But Philadelphia’s municipal election is probably not closely tied to Trump in most voters’ minds. Phjladelphia Republican candidates tend not to sound Trumplike notes in their platforms.

One should always bet on the Democrat in a Philadelphia general election these days. But while fear of crime is way down from its peak in the 1990s, it has long been the governing factor in DA races.

We shall soon find out how strongly the city’s electorate worries about crime in 2017.

CITY REPUBLICANS believe they have a potential upset winner in their DA candidate, Beth Grossman. Gathered at Cannstatter Volksfest Verein in Torresdale for a two-ward fundraiser beneath a bust of Beethoven were Ward Leader Brian McCann, Grossman, RCC Chair Mike Meehan and Ward Leader Linwood Holland.

Who’s ‘Beth’? Not on the Ballot

Republicans have chosen an unfortunate strategy in branding their DA candidate, Beth Grossman, as “Beth” in their signage and media blitz.

We have no quarrel with the name “Beth,” and it certainly fits more neatly into a campaign sign than does “Grossman.” But the fact remains that when voters walk into their booth, they’ll be presented with two last names: Grossman and Krasner.

The job of a campaign expert is to plant the name on the button in the mind of the voter. Last names rule in this duel; more people will punch a button for “Krasner” or “Grossman” than for “Larry” or “Beth.” Sorry, guys: row officers aren’t household names like “Donald” or “Hillary.” Don’t kid yourselves when you’re trying to win an election.

DePasquale OKs Rhynhart

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is endorsing Rebecca Rhynart for city controller today, following general election endorsements Rhynhart received from Emily’s List and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Auditor General said, “I am thrilled to endorse Rebecca Rhynhart for controller of the City of Philadelphia because she is beyond qualified for the position and I believe will help restore trust in government. I am a firm believer in the importance of transparency, efficiency and collaboration in government, pillars which have been central to Rebecca’s platform throughout her time on the campaign trial. I am confident she will fulfill these goals several times over as Philadelphia’s controller, and I look forward to forging a stronger partnership between the auditing functions of the City and the Commonwealth as we work together to make government better for our citizens.”

Perry Quits 7th Dist. Race; Muroff Eased

Every Democrat, it seems, wants to challenge Congressman Pat Meehan (R-Delaware). But while many are called, few are chosen.

HANGING out at Chickie’s & Pete’s in Northeast Philly for City Commissioner Lisa Deeley’s fundraiser, Northeast ward leaders united: L-R were Jim Donnelly, their candidate Lisa Deeley, Alan Butkovitz, Janice Sulman and Shawn Dillon. Photo by Harry Leech

Paul Perry announced he is dropping out of his primary run in the 7th Congressional District citing concerns over the amount of money required to run for office.

“As I depart this race, I leave with real questions about the sustainability of our democracy. It is awash in money and influence-peddling on both sides of the aisle,” said Perry.

“On a personal level, as someone who has spent his life working hand-in-hand with families struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis, I struggled mightily with the fundraising culture inherent to our current politics.”

Perry was backed by New Politics, a bipartisan group that worked to recruit candidates who had worked in public service.

But Perry’s exit from the race could clear the way for other Dems to challenge Meehan in the 7th, a district stretching from Philadelphia suburbs into Pennsylvania Dutch Country, which is widely reviled as one of the most flagrantly gerrymandered congressional districts in the USA.

State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery), Andrew McGinty, Elizabeth Moro, Molly Sheehan and Philadelphia’s Dan Muroff are also running for this seat. So Perry’s bailing is a blessing to all who remain in the race.

Pa.’s Rainy-Day Plan Is All Wet

Pennsylvania has the 8th-worst “rainy-day” reserves in the nation when the next recession strikes, according to Moody’s Analytics, a respected national rating agency.

Nearly a decade has passed since the last recession. Still, most states aren’t prepared for the next one.

Pennsylvania is a leader of the pack in recklessness by Moody’s reckoning. Its “actual reserves” as calculated by Moody’s are negative and its “necessary reserves,” at 6.9%, are the second lowest of all the states.

Moody’s report conducted the first-ever stress test on all 50 state budgets to assess their ability to absorb a fiscal shock. It found that 16 states have enough in reserves to get through the next recession somewhat comfortably. Another 19 states have some or most of the funds they would need, which means they would likely have to raise revenue and/or cut spending, as well as tap reserves, to balance their budgets during a downturn. And 15 states are so “substantially unprepared” for the next downturn, they would face major “economic repercussions.”

The idea of stress-testing state budgets, which was borrowed from the U.S. Federal Reserve, essentially throws different economic scenarios at a state budget to see how revenues would be impacted
In its analysis, Moody’s Analytics ran two different scenarios: a moderate recession and a more severe downturn that mimics the losses experienced during the Great Recession. The models took into each state’s tax structure, revenue volatility, expected spending on Medicaid, and existing reserves and fund balances, among other things.

“PATHWAYS to Pardons” program came to Mantua in Drexel University’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. L-R were Mike Lee, State Rep. Donna Bullock, Lt. Gov. Mike Stack and Donna Dornsife. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Having the proper cushion allows lawmakers to keep making policy when times are tough, rather than simply just reacting, says Moody’s senior economist Dan White, the report’s author. “If you have the reserves put away and don’t have to worry about making ends meet,” he says, “that gives you more time to focus resources on things that are really plaguing you — like the cost of Medicaid.”

White’s modeling gives states at least one or two years before the next economic downturn. That means places like California, Kentucky and Wisconsin, which have about half of the savings Moody’s estimates they need, potentially have time to improve their position. But for the states with slim-to-no savings set aside (such as Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), White says it’s likely too late to make the needed adjustment before the next recession.

Many of the states that fall into the unprepared category are there because they haven’t addressed their structural budget burdens. Pennsylvania, for instance, has consistently struggled with balancing its budget over the last decade. Part of the reason is that its Medicaid spending is gobbling up nearly 40 percent of the budget and giving it less flexibility than any other state. “They just really haven’t had the breathing room necessary to set aside any amount for reserves,” says White.

Barletta Assembles State Trump Team

Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne) announced a slate of endorsements from former Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and State Senate and House members.

“I’m excited by the support that continues to grow for our campaign to put Pennsylvania families and workers first. We are building broad support across Pennsylvania to defeat Bob Casey next November and advance the America First agenda,” Barletta said in a release announcing the endorsements.

The endorsements from Cawley and Santorum will likely help Trump-aligned Barletta when it comes to January’s endorsement vote by the Pennsylvania GOP. Party members will note the support of other Republicans each candidate has, and their ability to raise money for the race.

The list includes nine state Senate members and 18 House members.
The complete list of state legislators endorsing Barletta is below.
Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington), John DiSanto (R-Dauphin), John Gordner (R-Snyder), Scott Martin (R-Lancaster), Mike Regan (R-Cumberland), Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), Robert Tomlinson (R-Bucks), Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland).

Steve Bloom (R-Cumberland), Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland), Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon), Sue Helm (R-Dauphin), Dawn Keefer (R-Cumberland), Fred Keller (R-Union), Jerry Knowles (R-Berks), Ryan Mackenzie (R-Berks), John Maher (R-Washington), Kurt Masser (R-Columbia), Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin), Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), Dave Millard (R-Columbia), Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland), Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh), Mike Tobash (R-Dauphin) and Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne).

Social Workers Pick Judges

The National Association of Social Workers, Pennsylvania Chapter’s Political Action for Candidate Election Committee endorses Judge Ellen Ceisler for Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

Judge Ceisler currently serves on the bench of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where she has been seated since 2008. She was in the Criminal Trial Division from 2008 to 2012 before moving to the Civil Motions Court. She then transitioned to the Major Civil Trial Division, where she is currently. She presides over all major civil and non-civil juries.

Judge Ceisler has a wealth of experience, working in both the public and private sectors. She has also worked in locales ranging from the Philadelphia Police Department, where she was Director of the Integrity & Accountability Office, to WCAU-TV, where she worked as an investigative producer.

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA safety was subject of a walk led by state rep candidate Nick DiDonato, Jr. L-R, street-safety activist Greg Bucceroni, campaign operative Santo Zema, Anthony Boris and DiDonato paused outside Sharswood Elementary School. They spoke to neighbors; DiDonato pledged to help with the bike gang and teen problems the neighborhood is having.

NASW-PA PACE also backs endorses Judge Maria McLaughlin for Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Before she was elected to the Court of Common Pleas in 2007, Judge McLaughlin gained experience as a prosecutor, investigative producer, litigator, legal advisor to the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, independent police auditor, consultant to the Philadelphia School District on issues related to discipline and school safety, and director of special investigations for the City Controller’s Office.

Judge McLaughlin served on the Civil Motions Court for two years, during which she had both original and appellate jurisdiction for all appeals involving the City of Philadelphia’s governmental Agencies and Authorities, including but not limited to the Zoning Board, Licenses and Inspections, Human Relations Commission, Civil Service Commission, Liquor Control Board, Board of Revision of Taxes, Philadelphia Parking Authority, Philadelphia Housing Authority, Pension Board, the Philadelphia School District, Freedom of Information Act appeals, and governmental labor unions, among others.

NASW-PA PACE is also in with Judge H. Geoffrey Moulton Jr. for Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Judge Moulton has almost 30 years of experience in the legal field. His experience covers many areas. He has practiced in both the public and private sectors.

Judge Moulton worked in the Department of Treasury and Department of Justice before he became chief counsel to U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.). He also was chief of staff and deputy special inspector general for the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Subsequently, Judge Moulton conducted a comprehensive review of and prepared a report on the investigation of former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky. He then provided legal advice to Gov. Tom Wolf and executive staff before being nominated and confirmed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

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