EVERYDAY PEOPLE on the Pa. Society

Filed under: Columns,Featured News,Pennsylvania Society,Politics |

JOHN FETTERMAN happened to bump into State Sen. Daylin Leach and his family.

BY DENISE CLAY
Over the weekend, the Pennsylvania Society, meeting a week earlier than usual so it wouldn’t conflict with this weekend’s Army/Navy Game, gathered in New York to hold its annual gathering in New York.

Despite the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s remodel moving the party to somewhere smaller and most of the usual suspects choosing to sit this one out, it still managed to break a little news while simultaneously poking Pennsylvania’s tourism industry in the eye.

(If you really cared about making things better for Pennsylvania instead of having the ultimate big-baller weekend in the Big Apple, you’d hold your shindig here, Pennsylvania Society. The Ritz Carlton is highfalutin enough for your soirée. Keep the money here.)

Now that I’ve outlined the eye poke, I’ll get to the news, which, to no one’s surprise, involved former Gov. Ed Rendell.

There’s probably not a whole lot that President Donald Trump and Gov. Rendell have in common, but one of those things is a propensity to say whatever they’re feeling, consequences be damned. While Trump chooses Twitter, and the 280 characters it really didn’t need, to spread his gospel, Rendell has a Pennsylvania press corps that will make sure that anything that comes out of his mouth will lead to the kind of headlines read ’round the world.

So when Rendell told reporters at the Pennsylvania Society that it might be time for Gov. Tom Wolf to find a better running mate than incumbent Lt. Gov. Mike Stack as he made his re-election bid in 2018, you’d better believe it got noticed.

Especially when he followed it up on Monday with a press conference at his old City Hall stomping grounds announcing his support for John Fetterman, the former mayor of Braddock, Pa., in his run for lieutenant governor.

Fetterman, who was among those running for the Democratic nomination to replace Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, has decided to throw his hat in the ring against incumbent Lt. Gov. Mike Stack as a champion of progressives, touting an end to income inequality and community policing, among other things.
In announcing his support, Rendell cited Fetterman’s experience and ability to do the job.

“He revitalized the downtown, reduced the crime rate … Braddock hasn’t had a homicide in five and a half years – an extraordinary record,” Rendell said.

But the reason why Rendell broke what I refer to as the Democratic City Committee’s unofficial 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt not endorse a challenger over an incumbent…” was because he felt Stack’s continued presence would impact Wolf’s chances for a second term, calling him a “drag” on the ticket.

Now the good news, at least for Fetterman, is that he gets something that his opponents for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor – Stack, Montgomery County State Rep. Madeleine Dean, activist Aryanna Berringer; Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone and Lancaster County Commissioner Craig Lehman – won’t get, and that’s access to the war chest Rendell’s been carrying around since his last mayoral race.

But the bad news is, this could cause some unnecessary drama for a campaign that doesn’t really need it.

The reason why Stack is in so much trouble with folks is because the family of the former state senator from Northeast Philadelphia has been taking too much advantage of his position. They’ve abused staff at the lieutenant governor’s residence. They’re had too much fun with some of the perks. These are the kinds of things that make folks who barely have pensions and, in some cases, don’t even have jobs get mad and take it out on the first politician they find.

In this case, Rendell and others fear that politician could be Gov. Wolf.
But while this makes sense, it could backfire because while Rendell appears to have forgotten the Democratic City Committee’s unofficial 11th Commandment, the city’s unions haven’t. Stack is someone they’ve supported for a long time and while this won’t make them organize against him, chances are it might make them mad enough to do their best to organize for him.

Unless Rendell’s war chest can help Fetterman offset that, or can help him get those unions to his side, this could all get very interesting … in all the wrong ways.

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