POLS ON THE STREET: Redistricting War on Two Fronts

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PLANNING to eliminate cash bail in Philadelphia prisons at Myers Rec Center in Kingsessing were, L-R, Michael Bouchard, 1st Judicial District director of pretrial services; Julie Wertheimer, Office of Criminal Justice chief of staff; Keir Bradford-Gray, chief defender; DA Larry Krasner; State Rep. Joanna McClinton; and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. Photo by Wendell Douglas

The initial panic into which statewide politics was flung by the State Supreme Court’s imposition of new congressional districts has settled into the odd reality that, for the next week at least, everyone who wishes to run for major offices must have a two-front strategy. They must have a plan to run in the new districts drawn by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which has a Democratic majority; they must also have a plan to run in the old districts drawn by Republicans, in case the GOP’s effort to void the new districts succeeds with the U.S. Supreme Court, which has a Republican majority.

Good luck with that, everybody!

MAYOR Jim Kenney discussed the role of contractors at AIA in Center City. He was flanked here by Brian Conroy, L, and Cory Robbins, president and VP respectively of CSI. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate State Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) called on Gov. Tom Wolf to ignore the Supreme Court’s decision. Wagner believes that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court does not have the constitutional authority to draw a new map and argues the governor should not enforce the court’s decision.

“I would instruct the Secretary of the Commonwealth to oversee the 2018 elections under our old map – the map that was created by bipartisan, elected representatives,” he said.

Wolf responded by singling out Republican U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has enlisted in the GOP federal lawsuit, as a monster to stir his base to contribute to his campaign for re-election.

177TH LEGISLATIVE District candidate Maggie Borski held a fundraiser at the Harmonia Club in Whitehall. Teaming up were the Borski family: L-R, sister Jill, former Congressman Bob Borski, Maggie, sister Jenny and brother Rob Borski. Photo by Harry Leech

“Paul Ryan and his allies are planning to file federal lawsuits in a desperate attempt to block Pennsylvania’s new, fair maps so they can bring back their gerrymandered map,” his campaign team emailed. “We need to fight back. So we’re going all in to raise 1,000 donations today from voters who want politicians to be accountable to people – not special interests.”

Time will tell which side raises more money from redistricting frenzy. In the meantime, the Committee of Seventy came out with a statement supporting Common Cause’s quest for a permanent, nonpartisan method to eliminate the archaic cloud of gerrymandering.

“The chaotic weeks since the court’s ruling have been filled with partisan sniping and rushed decisions made behind closed doors. The result is that this new map, whatever its merits, will always live beneath a partisan cloud,” read Seventy’s statement. “Remember, Pennsylvania will have to draw new maps in 2021, just three years from now. We need to fix this process now, taking it out of the hands of the partisan operatives.

AMONG the attendees at State Rep. Jim Roebuck’s Birthday Bash at Warmdaddy’s last week were, L-R, State Rep. Steve McCarter; Roebuck; and Frank Dermody, Democratic Leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Photo by Bonnie Squires

“Our ‘Draw the Lines PA’ initiative, which will put the digital tools to create commonsense maps into the hand of voters and students across the Commonwealth, seeks to bolster the case for the needed reforms. We look forward to working with our friends in Fair Districts PA on that essential quest.”

Draw the Lines PA is a series of public mapping competitions awarding cash prizes held twice each year until 2021 that will give thousands of participants in three divisions – middle/high school, higher education, and adult – access to the same digital tools that the politicians use to draw the Commonwealth’s electoral boundaries.

One Headache out, One Headache in

Lt. Gov. Mike Stack is facing a lively field of opponents in his re-election bid in the Democratic primary.

SUPPORTERS of attorney Jeff Curry packed McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Center City to raise funds for his campaign for the 188th Legislative District seat in West Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia native son was being pressed by State Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) in the lieutenant governor race. After seeing the new Supreme Court congressional districts, Dean opted to run for Congress in the new 4th District, which is essentially a Montco affair.

But now in comes Nina Ahmad, a former Philadelphia deputy mayor with half a mill already in her sock. She had been targeting Congressman Bob Brady’s old 1st District, but that district no longer exists. Now she’ll tackle Stack.

Ahmad, a former chair of Philadelphia NOW, said that while the new congressional maps caused her to change her plans, the State Supreme Court did the right thing by ending gerrymandering in Pennsylvania.

Ahmad came to the United States from Bangladesh at age 21 and earned a PhD in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked as an organizer for Howard Dean’s insurgent presidential campaign and was a delegate for Barack Obama. She called out sexism in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and asked State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) to step down after sexual-harassment charges.

CITY COUNCIL marked Black History Month on Feb. 26 with animated performances. Among the celebrants were, L-R, featured singer Suzanne Christina; Teamsters Local 830 Secretary-Treasurer Danny Grace; Laura Craig; Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown; and Valerie Gay, vice chair of the board of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. Photo by Wendell Douglas

“Harrisburg has been male-dominated for too long, and its culture won’t change without new voices,” said Ahmad. “We must create jobs in science and technology and grow green jobs and businesses.”

Tasco, Evans Receive Honors

In commemoration of Black History Month, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) acknowledged former Philadelphia Councilwoman Marian Tasco in a symposium and reception in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 26.

Casey highlighted the Councilwoman’s lifetime of public service and continued work to inspire the next generation of leaders. She served on City Council for over two decades.

Earlier last month, the National Association of Community Health Centers issued its 2018 Community Health Congressional Awards. Congressman Dwight Evans (D-Phila.) was among the awardees.

Evans was recognized for taking multiple actions on behalf of health centers, including advocating for health-center funding, cosponsoring important legislation and engaging with health centers in his district.

Wagner Ally Stabs Martina in the Back

GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner shook up his campaign days after City&State PA published a story linking his former campaign chair to a series of attacks on fellow Republicans.


Wagner cut ties with campaign staffers who had been involved with a PAC called the Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania. That group, which promotes conservative political candidates who exhibit ideological purity, sent mailers to thousands of households in recent weeks blasting nearly 30 fellow Republicans for voting against a bill designed to restrict the automatic collection of union dues.

State Rep. Martina White (R-Northeast) was among these legislators, mostly in the Southeast, who were targeted for extinction by CAP. This far-right lobby aims to eliminate from public office all Republican elected officials who support labor unions to the slightest degree.

Wagner’s campaign subsequently fired strategist Ryan Shafik and campaign chair John Kennedy – who founded CAP and now serves as chairman emeritus.

“Dividing our party is unacceptable and I want every Republican to help implement our agenda in Harrisburg,” Wagner said.

White had been baffled by the divisive stance of Wagner’s longtime ally, right after Wagner had issued a call for party unity on his endorsement by the Pennsylvania Republican Committee.

“I remain focused on working across the aisle to accomplish things for the people of my district and the people of Philadelphia,” she said. “I am firmly pro-union, like most Philadelphia Republicans, and I support labor’s goal of supporting middle-class families.”

Eryn Santamoor Scouting Council Race

Under Democratic City Committee’s radar, Eryn Santamoor is planning a race for City Council in 2019. The fact she has a deep time vision speaks well for her savvy.

An executive with Women’s Way, Santamoor has set up a serious fundraising apparatus. She is a Penn graduate with a master’s in public administration. She was a linchpin in Michael Nutter’s campaign for mayor and worked in his administration.

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