POLS ON THE STREET: State Poll Spells GOP Trouble; City Primary Races Steam up

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COUNCILMAN Kenyatta Johnson staged a protest at the Center City Starbucks in his Councilmanic district where two Black men were removed by the police while waiting for a business associate. He was joined by, among others, his colleagues Derek Green, Helen Gym and Blondell Reynolds Brown as well as Minister Rodney Muhammad, head of the Black Clergy of Philadelphia & Vicinity. Photo by Wendell Douglas

BY JOE SHAHEELI
The latest poll casts a grim light on Republican prospects in the Keystone State in the November general election.

According to an Allentown Morning Call/Muhlenberg College report released this week, which closed Apr. 12, Democrats lead comfortably in all statewide and national offices six months out.

Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf is lapping his three Republican challengers at this point, with 46-47% of voters preferring him to any alternative. State Sen. Scott Wagner leads the GOP pack at this moment with 31% support, trailed by Laura Ellsworth with 26% and Paul Mango with 21%.

Wagner’s edge may come from an early start in the race, gaining him familiarity. Ellsworth and Mango may be splitting the Western Pennsylvania base, with Ellsworth gaining from her independent stance toward the state party while Mango loses by openly defying it. Surely, in this year, it also helps among Republican women that Ellsworth is a woman.

CANDIDATES in the May primary are popping up all across South Philadelphia. Point Breeze Civic Association heard presentations from candidates last week. L-R were congressional candidate Bryan Leib, Jerry Sulat, Miguel Garces, Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, organizer Al Littlepage, congressional candidate Kevin Johnson, Dr. Andre Ford and Himanshu Vyas. More campaign coverage P. 2. Photo by Wendell Douglas

After the GOP primary winner has been bled dry by May 15, how can he or she afford to close the gap for the fall race? Ellsworth has no money, and either Mango or Wagner will have a lot less by then.

They could court outside conservative donors. But this class will be under severe stress struggling to choose which races are salvageable in the teeth of a likely Democratic wave. Our bet is they’ll bet instead on U.S. senatorial sword-bearer Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne), whose early and fierce embrace of Donald Trump makes him the likeliest inheritor of Trump’s base in this state. Barletta won’t have to waste much money on his primary in which he is expected to best State Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver), so he’ll have money to go after incumbent Democrat U.S. Sen. Bob Casey; and money likes money.

But both Democratic incumbents’ war chests outweigh any opponent’s by miles at this hour. And Barletta’s polling numbers give him no more edge than the GOP gubernatorial candidates. Not an attractive investment for the Koch Brothers and their like.

COUNCILMAN David Oh sponsored a bipartisan, citywide candidates forum at Loews Hotel in Center City, drawing a host of office-seekers, with a special focus on the needs of minority voters. Photo by Wendell Douglas

In congressional races, the Morning Call/Muhlenberg poll found Democrats ahead 47-38% in a generic poll. That surely exaggerates the Democratic advantage, because D votes are concentrated inefficiently in a few geographies. Given de-gerrymandered new districts, however, it’s a safe bet that Dems will pick up at least three seats in the fall, perhaps even a fourth to tie our D.C. House delegation at nine seats apiece.

Fiedler Grows Union Backing

In the 184th Legislative District, Elizabeth Fiedler snapped up three crucial service-union endorsements: AFSCME DC 33 and 47, along with NUHHCE Local 1199C.

Coupled with previous endorsements by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and PASNAP, a nurses’ union, Fiedler now has significant labor counterweights to the building-industry backing of one of her rivals, Jonathan Rowan.

STATE REP. Isabella Fitzgerald held a fundraiser at chic Platinum Grill in Chestnut Hill. Among attendees were, L-R, State Rep. Jordan Harris, Fitzgerald, State Sen. Art Haywood, Human Relations Chair Kay Kyungsun Yu and Ward Leader Billy Dolbow. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Chris Woods, VP of 1199C, said, “1199C has chosen to endorse Elizabeth Fiedler for State Representative in the 184th because as a working mom she will always fight for the needs of and stand in solidarity with working people of every race. She will make sure that all workers have safe working conditions, fair wages, health care and union representation.”

DC 47 VP & Legislative Director Ethelind Baylor said, “Elizabeth is able to be the voice and advocate we need in Harrisburg. She is committed to fight for our right to have quality health care, funded schools, the freedom to join unions, have safe working conditions, and protection from discrimination.”

Organized labor is not always of one mind. Fiedler is claiming a share of its pie. “Unionization is not just a workplace issue – unions sustain and anchor our communities,” she said. “It is more important than ever that we fight for the rights of organized labor – and push to increase union density. I will oppose any efforts to privatize our public resources. I will fight alongside unions and grassroots movements for an economy that works for all of us – not just the richest few and corporate interests.”

27TH WARD DEMOCRATIC Leader Carol Jenkins poses policy questions to three candidates for the 188th Legislative seat in West Philadelphia: L-R, Diane Settles, Jeff Curry and incumbent State Rep. Jim Roebuck. The event drew 100 people to USciences on 43rd Street.

A fellow-settler rival to Fiedler in South Philadelphia, attorney Tom Wyatt, is taking a grassroots approach, knocking on thousands of doors. He refuses all PAC money and is relying on his community connections – he has a child in Jackson Elementary School and chaired the Education Committee in Passyunk Square Civic Association. Besides, he asserts, “I am the only candidate who once was a public-schoolteacher.”

188th Race Heats up

In West and Southwest Philadelphia, a serious three-way race is being waged for the 188th Legislative District seat. Incumbent State Rep. Jim Roebuck, of long service, is being challenged by 27th Ward Committeewoman Diane Settles, of the Kingsessing Area Civic Association, and Jeff Curry, a personal-injury plaintiff’s attorney.

Their appearance before the 27th Ward Democratic Committee, which drew 100 attendees, clarified their campaign approaches.

PENNSYLVANIA Veteran Boxers Association VP Fred Druding, Jr. steps in between competing 177th state rep candidates Sean Kilkenny, L, and Joe Hohenstein, who both attended the VBA’s recent Karaoke Night. The two, along with three others also seeking the seat, Maggie Borski, Patty-Pat Kozlowski and Dan Martino have all been invited to a Candidates Night next Wednesday at the VBA Clubhouse in Port Richmond’s 25th Ward. Bringing rival Philly candidates into a boxing hall, the VBA has appropriately decided that the drink special that evening will be the Yards Brawler. Mark your calendar section for event details.

Roebuck relies on his experience, his reputation and his endorsements. He is a senior leader in State education policy. Settles is running a serious street campaign, with good lit. She argues that Southwest Philly is being neglected in development. Curry is banking on direct mail; in addition, he enjoys a good hookup to his community of young parents in West Philadelphia as well as many University City community groups.

Muroff Bows out of 5th Dist. Race

Former 9th Ward Democratic Leader Dan Muroff, since removed from Chestnut Hill to Havertown, is the latest candidate to quit the insanely congested primary for the nomination in the new 5th District, which takes in Delaware County plus slices of South Philly and the Main Line. He is another bipartisan victim of the State Supreme Court’s redistricting swirtcheroo.

“Over a year ago, I made the decision to run for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District. “I am honored to have received the endorsement of the Plumbers Union Local 690, the Pennsylvania Conference of Teamsters, and numerous Democratic committee people and progressive activists,” he said.

RAISING a war chest at Frida Cantina, a popular Mexican eatery in East Passyunk, Jonathan Rowan welcomed donors to his campaign for the 184th Legislative seat. L-R were Dan Stevenson, Rowan, Joan Verratti, Mariel Martin and Dave Mellet. Photo by Wendell Douglas

“Over the last number of months, the dynamics of this race changed in dramatic ways.,” he continued. “What was a race that had three Democrats vying for the nomination has now swelled to 12, and of course the 7th District is now the 5th, where the Democratic nominee will be the prohibitive favorite to win the general election.

“After much consideration, I have decided to end my candidacy. I concluded that in seeing no clear path to win the nomination, it would be irresponsible and unfair to ask all those who have supported me to continue to do so.”

Philly GOP Endorses Its Slate

With a month to go until the primary election, the Philadelphia Republican Party has issued an

official list of endorsed candidates for Pennsylvania state legislature, U.S. legislature, Governor and Lt. Governor.

COUNCILMAN Curtis Jones, Jr. gave thumbs up at his annual Block Captain Boot Camp at St. Joseph’s University. Block captains were greeted with outlines, pamphlets, recycling containers, vendors, and a full lunch. At the end of training, each block captain and junior block captain received a personal Tablet to use to report to the Councilman’s office. Photos by Leona Dixon

“We are proud to put forth this year’s list of endorsed candidates for public office at the state and national level. It is composed of men and women from diverse backgrounds, accurately reflecting the heterogeneity of the region itself. They all offer viable solutions for the area’s most pressing problems including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, growing the economy, improving infrastructure and keeping our streets safe,” said Michael Meehan, chairman, Republican Party of Philadelphia.

The official list is as follows:

Governor: Scott Wagner
Lieutenant Governor: Jeff Bartos
U.S. Senate: Lou Barletta
U.S. Congress (2nd District): David Torres
U.S. Congress (3rd District): Bryan Leib
U.S. Congress (5th District): Pearl Kim

Pennsylvania State Senate (4th District): James Williams

A VETERAN of the 1960s civil-rights movement, Congressman John Lewis, spoke at St. Joseph’s University on issues facing America today. Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., L, presented Lewis with a City Council citation, assisted by Wilson Goode, Sr.

Pennsylvania State Representative (170th District): Martina White
Pennsylvania State Representative (177th District): Patty-Pat Kozlowski
Pennsylvania State Representative (181st District): T. Milton Street
Pennsylvania State Representative (194th District): Sean Patrick Stevens.

Feuding Continues in the 51st Ward

Tumult continues in Southwest Philadelphia’s 51st Ward, where new Democratic Ward Leader Anthony Faulk has been attempting to stabilize its operation after taking over from its previous leader, Vivian Miller, who had issues toward the end.

But the 51st is never at peace. Activists like Vernon Brown and Gregory Benjamin methodically continue to buck the organization. Ward-fight spectators should consider buying tickets for this bout in June.

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