POLS ON THE STREET: Lt. Guv Air War; State Rep. Bouts Galore

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VICE PRESIDENT Joe Biden has made the fabled wall! The Palm Philadelphia General Manager Julie Sloviter and former PREIT Executive Chairman Ron Rubin presented Biden with his framed Palm caricature at last week’s National Museum of American Jewish History event. Joe’s caricature was on the wall before the restaurant closed for renovations. Photo courtesy of the Palm Philadelphia

Contested lieutenant gubernatorial primaries are nothing new. But television ad campaigns have rarely been seen, due to the cost of pummeling the Keystone State’s numerous TV markets – coupled with the relative lack of clout that this office has, which is not an enticement to major donors.

That is changing this year, as three of the five entrants in the Democratic primary are launching TV buys this week. Two of them are Philadelphians.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, a former state senator from the Northeast, is seeking re-election. His previous running mate, Gov. Tom Wolf, has stayed neutral, thereby tacitly permitting challengers. Former Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad is one of them. She is aided by the fact that she has put over $500,000 into her campaign, a deed made possible by her husband’s flourishing real-estate business.

Stack’s commercial stresses his work on veterans’ issues (he is active in the Army Reserve) as well as gun reform. Campaign Manager Marty Marks noted Stack is the only veteran on the Democratic ballot for Lieutenant Governor, which “sets him apart from his opponents who have no experience in either the military or state government.”

Ahmad’s TV ad also addresses gun issues, proposing to ban assault rifles, but with a focus on her personal story and her standing as a woman of color. Ahmad, a Bangladeshi immigrant, says in her commercial, “I grew up during a brutal war in which nearly 3 million people lost their lives for the cause of freedom, so not only am I passionate about banning weapons of war from our communities, but I have no fear of special interests like the NRA or powerful political bosses when it comes to protecting our children from mass shootings. I have a clear record of fighting sexism, discrimination and stamping out workplace harassment.”

Lt. Gov. Mike Stack was the first of many incumbents and challengers who were heard at the New 42nd Ward Candidates Night in the Majestic Hall. Welcoming the lieutenant governor were, L-R, Shante Lindsey, ward secretary; Michelle Rhett, ward chair; Stack; Sharon Vaughn, ward leader; and Tyron Martin, ward treasurer. Photo by Joe Stivala

Ahmad enjoys the backing of the National Organization of Women Pennsylvania Chapter.
A third candidate, E. Braddock, Pa. mayor John Fetterman, who ran for U.S. senator in the 2016 primary, is also unleashing a TV campaign. But a man who can draw Bernie Sanders to Philadelphia to endorse him, as Fetterman aims to do tomorrow, may pack a kind of air-time firepower money can’t buy.

Scott Targets Rabb in 200th District

We turn now to a bevy of interesting state legislative races. Tops in animosity, at least, may be that in the 200th District in Northwest Philadelphia. It is a tale of two neighborhoods in part.

When 50th Ward Leader Marian Tasco, the doyenne of Far Northwest politics, passed on her City Council seat to her protégée State Rep. Cherelle Parker, a protégée of Parker’s, Tonyelle Cook-Artis, was given that seat in a special election. But she lost it in the 2016 primary to entrepreneur Chris Rabb of the 9th Ward, which includes Chestnut Hill.

L-R, PFT leader Jerry Jordan, State Rep. Jim Roebuck, Arlene Freedman and Councilman Bobby Henon mingled amid the excitement at Democratic City Committee’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner at Sheet Metal Workers’ Hall on Columbus Boulevard. Photo by Bonnie Squires

Tasco and Parker resent losing. “We were nodding!” Parker harangued a lively 50th Ward party last week. The carefully tended rowhomes of Cedarbrook and West Oak Lane expect meticulous constituent service from their representatives – and reward them by turning out to vote at a handsome rate.

This year, they have selected Melissa Scott, an entrepreneur and civil servant in the City Revenue Department. Her core issues – gun violence, public-school funding, senior health care and economic opportunity – are well matched for the eastern Northwest.

The western Northwest is different. Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy favor a cosmopolitan worldview that Rabb works well in. When Dan Muroff moved to Delaware County in quest of a congressional race, Rabb was elected as his replacement.

But Tasco has more sway in the other wards of the 200th; thus, Rabb was denied party endorsement for re-election (an unusual distinction for an incumbent, but one he currently shares with State Rep. Emilio Vázquez in Kensington’s ever-turbulent 197th District.)

DR. KEVIN JOHNSON, C, took his quest for the Democratic 3rd Congressional District nomination to influential leaders of the Korean American community at Seorabol Restaurant in Olney. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Undismayed, Rabb relies on a pack of progressive endorsements by 215 People’s Alliance, Humane PA, Neighborhood Networks, Planned Parenthood, SEIU 32BJ, UFCW, TAUP, AFT-PA, Greater Philly Assn of Realtors, Political Revolution, SEIU PA State Council, Liberty City LGBT Dem Club, Faculty & Staff Fed of Community College of Phila, AFSCME DC 47, Equality PA, the State AFL-CIO, Phila Reclaim and Phila PA Working Families Party.

Rabb has had successes in pressing bipartisan legislation through a GOP-dominated House.

Who Knows the 175th Better? We’ll See

Along the Delaware River, a generational clash is taking place in the 175th Legislative District. This socially complex district runs from the River Wards south through Northern Liberties, Old City and Society Hill into Queen Village. Its different neighborhoods are hard to canvass in conventional ways and they don’t necessarily network with each other.

177TH LEGISLATIVE district residents got to hear from four of the five candidates seeking to replace retiring State Rep. John Taylor at a spirited debate at the Veteran Boxers Association Clubhouse in Port Richmond as the May 15 election is rapidly approaching. VBA President Chalie Sgrillo, L, and VP Fred Druding, Jr., 4th from L, congratulate candidates, from L, Maggie Borski, Joe Hohenstein, Patty-Pat Kozlowski and Dan Martino on their debate performances.

Perhaps for this reason, State Rep. Mike O’Brien has frequently faced challenges during his 12 years in office. He inherited the job from State Rep. Marie Lederer, whose chief of staff he was. The Lederers were a River Ward dynasty, in a world apart from the gentrifying communities to the south.

O’Brien, at 63, has a record of decades working the system in Harrisburg. As Democratic Chair of the Urban Affairs Committee, he is a key player in State legislative policy affecting Philadelphia.

O’Brien was endorsed by Planned Parenthood, Philadelphia NOW, Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, the Sierra Club, PFT, PSEA, AFSME 47, AFL-CIO, Humane PA and Liberty City Democratic Club. His is the résumé of a stalwart 63-year-old progressive.

VETERANS advocate Debby Derricks hosted a gathering at Pier 3. The river unites her district, she says.

But young newcomers are spreading northward in the 170th. That may create an opening for 33-year-old Debby Derricks, director of development at the Veterans Multi Service Center in Old City.

A daughter of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Kensington, Derricks went from Community College to New York University to Penn. She majored in political science and worked on State Sen. Daylin Leach’s (D-Montgomery) campaign. She has lived in Queen Village as well as Old City and is confident of her social networks. The greatest challenge of her district, she said, is to harness the development taking place in it to cope with the blight that still infests its northern end, particularly with the scourge of opioid abuse.

Derricks claims to have knocked on 5,000 doors so far. She has strong connections with the veteran community and won the backing of the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters as a result.

Battle Lines Coalesce in 181st

Party-endorsed Malcolm Kenyatta has all the big names on his side in the 181st Legislative District. But will the names be enough?

MALCOLM KENYATTA, 3rd from L, received the endorsement of several junior members of the Philadelphia delegation to Harrisburg.

The district covers parts of Philadelphia’s North and North Central Philadelphia, Glenwood, Francisville, Feltonville, Yorktown, West Poplar, Northern Liberties and Old Kensington. It is another district in which working-class Black residents are experiencing inroads by gentrification from the south and Temple University expansion in the north.

Kenyatta was anointed to succeed retiring State Rep. W. Curtis Thomas, Jr., a relative. He is a poised activist in young progressive politics and an organizer in the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to all ward and labor endorsements, Kenyatta is riding on the promotion of the “Pennsylvania House of Representatives Youngest Caucus.” Six state representatives of the under-40 set announced their backing for Kenyatta as a potential peer.

In with Kenyatta are Donna Bullock, Morgan Cephas, Joanna McClinton and Jared Solomon.

But some older hands in the 181st are unwilling to give up the fight. Rev. Lewis Nash, Sr., a long-standing community activist, has won the backing of a primary rival, Kenneth Walker, whose petitions didn’t pass muster. But Nash’s did, and now they are working together.

REV. LEWIS NASH, SR., L, receives the endorsement of a former opponent, Kenneth Walker, in the 181st Legislative District buffeted by change.

They may enjoy blue-collar labor appeal and they are skilled at door-knocking. And their rebel outcry of “dirty-pool politics in North Philadelphia” will test the prowess of the ward leaders in that area to deliver their people on May 15.

Endorsements in the 177th and 184th Races

Immigration attorney Joe Hohenstein, who ran against State Rep. John Taylor (R-Northeast) in 2016 and did pretty well against a revered incumbent, got the Democratic Party nod from the ward leaders in Port Richmond, Bridesburg and Mayfair again this year.

To some degree, this endorsement is required. After all, they were all for him two years ago; in politics, etiquette calls for you to dance with the gal that brung ya.

Danny Savage, Democratic 23rd Ward leader, said, “I’ve evaluated the different candidates in this race and I am confident that Joe Hohenstein has the experience and determination it takes to win and I pledge to him my full support for the election May 15th. Joe and I grew up in the neighborhood together.

CITY COMMISSION Chair Lisa Deeley enjoyed a lively fundraiser at Fluke’s Irish Pub in Tacony.

Peg Rzepski, 31st Ward leader, said, “Over the past three years, I have seen Joe Hohenstein out in my ward reaching out to folks with an energy that you don’t see too often.”

Connie Dougherty, 41st Ward leader, said, “Joe has proven himself to be someone who gets things done, and he’s proven he has a passion to serve others.”

This is good news for Hohenstein. But many committee people are loyal to some of the four other candidates on the Dem side in this race. And labor unions, which play an important role in that district’s political life, will have competing ballots.

$34 Million Missing? Meehan Says: Really, Philly?

Last Thursday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that city officials were trying to figure out if $33.3 million is missing from the city’s main bank account. Republican City Committee Chairman Michael Meehan issued the following statement:

“Coming on the heels of Mayor Kenney asking the City’s homeowners to shoulder a property-tax increase, we find out he does not know how much money is or should be in the City’s bank accounts.

STATE REP. Martina White had the honor of saluting our community’s Vietnam veterans with special pins recognizing their sacrifice. More than 100 veterans and their families came out to the FOP Lodge 5 HQ in Northeast Philadelphia to accept the pins as thanks for their service. Joining her were State Sen. John Sabatina; White; Vietnam War veteran Charles Wilson, Martina’s grandfather; and City Commissioner Al Schmidt.

“The tax-and-spend policies of the far-leftists who have run this City for too long are hard enough to swallow on their own; to hear that the City has not even been adhering to standard bookkeeping practices is enough to make hard-working citizens sick. Philadelphia’s elected Democrats are once again a headlining embarrassment.

“Let us not forget to add that taxpayers will also be asked to foot a bill to hire expensive accounting consultants to investigate and report on the funds. This is information which should be monitored effectively internally by city employees who are paid hefty salaries.

“I do think it’s commendable that the new City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart discovered the failure to reconcile City accounts, and I would encourage her to keep looking into these and related matters at length.”

Fiedler Endorsed by Planned Parenthood

Elizabeth Fiedler received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood in her race for the Democratic nomination for South Philadelphia’s 184th Legislative District.

Elizabeth said, “As a woman who received health-care services from Planned Parenthood, I know the importance of making quality healthcare available to everyone. We need more women in elected office, holding positions of power, leading our state and our communities. Our life experiences are important and we deserve to be in the room for every political discussion whether it’s about education, taxes or healthcare. Planned Parenthood, women and members of the LGBTQ community are consistently under attack. Enough is enough. We all deserve to make decisions about our health and our own bodies.”

PennEnvironment Endorses Its Slate

THE PUBLIC RECORD’S 1st annual “Salute to Labor” awardees received Senate citations from State Sen. Tina Tartaglione. Behind Tartaglione, L-R, were honorees John Meyerson and Linda Fields; State Sen. Sharif Street; and honorees Reesa Kossoff, Ted Kirsch and Estebán Vera, Jr. Photo by Wendell Douglas

PennEnvironment announced its slate of environmental endorsements for Pennsylvania’s spring 2018 primary election, including endorsements for U.S. House of Representatives, State House and State Senate.

“While voters are barraged with mailers and campaign advertisements in election season, PennEnvironment’s endorsements are meant to serve as a tool to help Pennsylvanians know how to cast the best environmental vote when they go to the ballot,” stated PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur. “We believe that these endorsements in critical races across the Commonwealth will help voters know which candidates are truly the cream of the crop when it comes to protect our environment and public health on election day.”

PennEnvironment made congressional endorsements for four incumbents:Brendan Boyle (D-Phila.), Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna), Mike Doyle (D-Allegheny) and Dwight Evans (D-Phila).

PennEnvironment also endorsed five candidates in Philadelphia State legislative races. General Assembly endorsements. Four are incumbents: State Reps. Mike O’Brien (D-Kensington), Chris Rabb (D-Northwest), Jim Roebuck (D-W. Phila.) and Brian Sims (D-S. Phila.). In the open 184th District Democratic primary, PennEnvironment endorsed Elizabeth Fiedler.

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3 Responses to POLS ON THE STREET: Lt. Guv Air War; State Rep. Bouts Galore

  1. Harangue…what a negative connotation!!!

    Dave Harris
    May 3, 2018 at 6:30 pm

  2. “Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy favor a cosmopolitan worldview.” Compared to the uncultured, unsophisticated, provincial, and parochial residents who live on the other side of Stenton Ave. So much for balanced journalism.

    Dave Harris
    May 3, 2018 at 6:41 pm

  3. Our reporter described a fierce and moving speech intended to stir Parker’s supporters to action.

    Tony West
    May 11, 2018 at 10:03 am

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