POLS ON THE STREET: Redistricting Finishes, Petitions Begin

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PHILADELPHIANS climbed up many vantage points to see the landmark Eagles Super Bowl parade, including the Benjamin Franklin statue in front of the Municipal Services Building. Photo by Bill Myers

It’s official: The race is on. And sometimes, smaller races have bigger impacts.

Petitions started in circulation on Tuesday for all state legislative races. In Philadelphia, among the most intriguing are three state-rep races: in Northeast Philly’s 177th, North Philly’s 181st and South Philly’s 184th.

No state legislative boundaries are affected by the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court strikedown of our Commonwealth’s congressional districts. That means every incumbent and challenger at the state level knows where they will be running in the May primary.

In Philadelphia, most initial action is swarming around the seats of three senior state representatives who appear to be signing out. All have health issues that are common among senior citizens.

In Mayfair and Bridesburg’s 177th Legislative Dist., retiring State Rep. John Taylor (R-Northeast) will be replaced on the Republican ballot by Port Richmond’s longtime civil servant, Patty-Pat Kozlowski, a bipartisan moderate. If any Republican can hang onto an inner-city Republican district anywhere in America, Kozlowski has the chops.

L-R AT THE parade were Council Members Blondell Reynolds-Brown, Cherelle Parker, David Oh, Derek Green and Curtis Jones. Photo by Leona Dixon

Democrat Joe Hohenstein, who challenged Taylor in the last election, is going for the Democratic nomination again. This year, he is facing stiff opposition from numerous other Democrats, who smell an opportunity to win this largely working-class white neighborhood.

In 2017, Hohenstein raised just under $65,000 from over 140 individual donors. By contrast, his next closest competitor Sean Kilkenny raised just over $50,000 from only three individual donors and 10 PACs. The Hohenstein campaign also held the opening of its first campaign office in Frankford this past Saturday.

In Lower North’s 181st Dist., all indications are incumbent State Rep. Curtis Thomas, Jr. (D-N. Phjla.) will wrap up his career this year. Three candidates have been floated in that district. Laborers’ District Council, HQ’ed in that district, endorsed a candidate Wednesday night after we went to press; we’ll update our online edition tomorrow.

In Whitman’s 184th Dist., State Rep. Bill Keller’s (D-S. Phila.) long run is over. Journalist Elizabeth Fiedler has launched a vigorous signature campaign, the first step to getting on the ballot.

In West Philadelphia’s 192nd District, freshman State Rep. Morgan Cephas kicked off her re-election campaign despite the absence of perceptible opposition. 52nd Ward Chair Steven Jones, 52nd Ward Chair, was first to announce an endorsement. Congressman Bob Brady (D-Phila.), 34th Ward leader, and Sonny Campbell, 4th Ward leader, joined in.

“Morgan just ended a very strong first year in office and has shown significant results within a short time period. I’m honored to provide her with the Ward endorsement and I am looking forward to her continuing to serve the residents of the 192nd,” said Brady.

KICKING OFF HIS re-election campaign at Calvary Center in Cedar Park was State Rep. Jim Roebuck. He was joined by, L-R, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, State Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown and State Sen. Anthony Williams, as well as a host of progressive activists. Photo by Bonnie Squires

State Races Clarify; Congressional Races Bubble

U.S. congressional races remain up in the air as of today, but everyone expects the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will entertain redistricting map submissions from General Assembly Republicans, General Assembly Democrats, Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack – and then promulgate their own version, which will blur the three Democratic views of fairness with the one Republican view of fairness – just enough to leave no sound grounds for Scarnati et al. to file a sustainable legal appeal.

So congressional candidates across the state will know by next Thursday exactly where they are running.

State Sen. Vincent J. Hughes (D-W. Phila.) wrote the governor that the new districts must adhere to the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Recent statements and actions from the majority parties in the General Assembly have raised alarms,” Hughes said. The Voting Rights Act dictates how districts with a majority of minority voters should be drawn. Hughes pointed out that the 2011 maps included two majority-minority districts. He said Pennsylvania’s 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts were majority-minority districts and they must remain so in new maps.

Meanwhile, regardless of next week’s new boundaries, Philadelphians Nina Ahmad and Dan Muroff are running for the 1st and 7th Districts respectively at the moment, although neither of them currently lives in these districts. But who knows what the morrow may bring?

Money would help their quest for a seat on Capitol Hill in D.C., wherever it is located.

The latest campaign-finance filings for these races lay out comparative stats.

In the 1st District, Nina Ahmad raised $601,073, with $563,954 on hand. Kevin Johnson, Willie Singletary and Michele Lawrence did not file with the FEC.

In the 7th District, Daylin Leach raised $537,550, with $181,800 on hand. Dan Muroff raised $421,210, with $267,073 on hand. Molly Sheehan raised $204,230, with $186,752 on hand. Elizabeth Moro raised $69,167, with $10,914 on hand. Shelley Chauncey, Greg Vitali and Ashley Lunkenheimer did not file with the FEC.

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