Ahmad Makes Statewide Waves in Lt. Guv Race

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NINA AHMAD

BY TONY WEST
A newcomer to Philadelphia electoral politics, former Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad, caught the eye of many voters outside the city in her last-minute race for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary.

Ahmad had started out the campaign season with her own eye on the old 1st Congressional District seat. After that evaporated when the State Supreme Court redistricted Pennsylvania, she turned to the lieutenant governor’s race instead.

She ended up second in a five-way race. While she did not lead in Philadelphia, where she was facing long-established native son Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, she ran first in most of the Philly suburbs, most of the Dutch Country and the Lehigh Valley. She ran a strong second in Northeast Pennsylvania as well as metropolitan Pittsburgh.

There wasn’t much time. “But I was able in 11 weeks to do much of what I actually set out to do,” Ahmad said after the election. “It was important that someone with my face and my name could do so well. My faith has been somewhat restored in this country.”

Ahmad, a Bangladeshi immigrant, is the first Asian American to run a competitive campaign for major office in the Keystone State.

Ahmad did not begin with nothing. Her husband is a prominent developer, so she could prime her campaign with $500,000. But that money doesn’t go very far statewide. Fundraising wasn’t easy, she said. She finished with about $800,000.

Of her opponents, she noted, “Fetterman had been running for two years. Kathy Cozzone is an elected official. Stack has a bully pulpit.”

Due to the lack of time, Ahmad was unable to organize a ground game.

She did, however, have statewide connections to fall back on. Ahmad has been active for years in women’s issues and immigration issues, creating relationships that she could tap.

“The Dauphin County Committee endorsed Fetterman but Shamaine Daniels supported me,” she said. “In Dauphin and berks, people knocked on doors for me. In Lancaster, I had the Black clergy; in Lehigh-Northampton the faith community and immigrants.”

But her major investment was in media. “My ads were clear and unambiguous ads,” Ahmad said. “People like authentic messages.”

Political ace Ken Snyder handled her media campaign. He was familiar with the race, having handled Stack’s campaign in 2014.

“There was an appetite to elect a woman,” Snyder commented. There was another woman on the ballot. But Nina’s was an easy story to tell. We had 30 seconds to communicate that she is an immigrant scientist who had grown up amid a violent war in her homeland.” Ahmad lived through a war of liberation in Bangladesh.

Ahmad was on air in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Scranton. At the last minute, she threw some money into Pittsburgh. It paid off.

In Philadelphia, Ahmad enjoyed the backing of her Northwest neighbors: Marian Tasco, Councilwoman Cherelle Parker and State Sen. Art Haywood. Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell supported her publicly, as did State Rep. Jared Solomon.

“People are hungry for a new messenger,” Ahmad said. Important causes to her are gun control, a fair funding formula for education and organized labor.

“The labor movement’s lessons have not been propagated,” she said, “and America is hurting today as a result. The story has to be retold.

I want to keep advocating for anyone who is marginalized.”

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One Response to Ahmad Makes Statewide Waves in Lt. Guv Race

  1. What a dishonest article. Campaign finance reports will show that Ahmad wrote herself a check for over $1,000,000 in ad buys. That wasn’t a campaign, it was a showcase in the very worst in Pennsylvania election law. That was money that should have gone to paying the dozens of small contractors who had to sue her husband for failing to pay them. Please do a bit of research on this.

    How does a multi-multi millionaire who fled her own messed up country get to cry racism? Truly shameful.

    Cathy Cozzone is the real story from the primary. Ahmad outspent her 20:1 yet for a few thousand more votes. Cozzone is a true public servant, unlike this office-buying phony.

    Small Contractor
    June 17, 2018 at 9:49 am

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