POLS ON THE STREET: City GOP Ticket Takes Two Hits

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PHILADELPHIA’S Irish and their friends braved a soggy Sunday to march for St. Patrick in Center City, a week before the actual saint’s day coming up on Mar. 17. Across town this week, Hibernian revelries abound. Here, L-R: Judge Dan McCaffery, running for Superior Court; State Rep. Kevin Boyle; judicial candidate Carmella Jacquinto; Democratic City Committee Chair Bob Brady; senatorial aide Jimmy Harrity; State Sen. Sharif Street; Marnie Aument-Loughrey; and State Reps. Joe Hohenstein and Martina White. Photo by Jim Jenkins

While the big money is being spent in the Democratic primary race, its Republican counterpart has undergone some eye-catching twists.

Republican City Committee’s endorsed candidate for mayor, North Philadelphia’s 16th Ward Leader Daphne Goggins, dropped out of the race in the last week before the filing deadline. She had drawn unwelcome attention after it was revealed that she is receiving disability payments for ongoing depression.

That left the field to her challenger, attorney William Ciancaglini, who hails from South Philadelphia. By the Tuesday deadline for filing nominating petitions, Ciancaglini announced proudly to his friends, “I put my faith in all of you to help get me there. We have over 3,000 signatures!”

So the Republicans will have a standard-bearer at the top of their ticket.

ONE OF TWO Philadelphians who are campaigning for statewide office this year is Judge Dan McCaffery, who is seeking a seat on Superior Court. His recent fundraiser was well attended by several ward leaders and attorneys, with campaign consultant Marisa Piccarreto. Photo by Jim Jenkins

The same cannot be said in the race for sheriff. The only Republican to announce for that office, Peter Wirs, failed to make 1,000. Wirs charged that was because RCC Chairman Mike Meehan had lobbied ward leaders to refrain from allowing Wirs to circulate petitions at their events.

In response, Wirs wrote a letter to Republican State Committee Chairman Val DiGiorgio asking him to appoint a committee to investigate Meehan, a move that is authorized in the party’s bylaws. In his letter, Wirs cited a famous piece of Republican Party lore:

“[Theodore Roosevelt’s] Secretary of State Elihu Root once asked [Philadelphia Republican leader] Boies Penrose why he was ruining the party by putting up a slate of candidates who were ‘stand-pat party hacks with no chance of winning.’ Penrose’s reply was, “’Yes, but I’ll preside over the ruins.’ Mike Meehan wants to rival Boies Penrose for presiding over the ruin of the Republican Party in Philadelphia.”

Although Republicans are down 7-1 versus the Democrats in registration in Philadelphia, it is nevertheless not clear this is all Meehan’s fault. Even in the once-red suburbs, Republican affiliation is on the decline throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Challengers Now Face Challenges Galore

Now that the petitions have been turned in begins a quiet but bloodthirsty backroom week of the campaign. Operatives of well-run campaigns will pore over their rival’s petitions to find and challenge irregularities, hoping to knock them off the ballot. Discrepancies that seem innocent in ordinary life are enough to disqualify a signature.

LOUISE BUNDY, C, new leader of the 47th Ward, greets judicial candidate Christian DiCicco and City Commissioner Lisa Deeley. Louise’s “baptismal” event went off well in the Beckett Life Center.

First patients to undergo this MRI are mayoral challengers Alan Butkovitz and State Sen. Anthony Williams, who have claimed an opportunity to take on Mayor Jim Kenney. Butkovitz is all in, Williams more cautious. There is still time to drop off the ballot.

Particularly under the gun will be challengers of incumbents in district Council races, of whom there is a host this year. There is one notable exception, though: Councilman Bobby Henon (6th District) will be unopposed as neither of his two challengers rounded up 750 signatures to make the ballot.

By next Wednesday, if all goes smoothly, we should know who is officially on the ballot. Then begins the third phase: the draw for ballot position.

‘Cruzin’ for an Upset in 7th Council Dist.

IF ELECTED to City Council, State Rep. Angel Cruz would oppose councilmanic prerogative, wants term limits.

One Council district will see an unusual contest: between two incumbents, albeit in different offices.

State Rep. Angel Cruz (D-Kensington) will take on Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez for her 7th Councilmanic District seat. He turned in 3,200 signatures on Tuesday, promising a battle royal in a district where political peace is often hard to come by.

Cruz has been the 7th Ward leader for 30 years and a state legislator for nigh on 20 years, so his name recognition at least matches Quiñones Sánchez’s. He began his political career in City Hall as a staffer for Councilman Rick Mariano.

In the House of Representatives, Cruz is Democratic chair of the Human Services Committee. He has served as president of the National Council of Hispanic Legislators.

Four ward leaders are against him. For him, Cruz reckons, are seven: Cruz himself, Theresa Alicea, Carlos Matos, Donna Aument, Peg Rzepski, Tommy Johnson and Marge Tartaglione. It is a striking revolt by party organizations against an incumbent.

“I am going to take care of those ward leaders and ensure they all have representation,” Cruz said. “I will give service to them and their constituents.” He charged that the incumbent is disinclined to take input from other leaders.

“I know how to fight,” Cruz said. “But I also know how to make up and come together afterwards.”

A key concern for Cruz is abandonment – tires, posters and other trash. He wants to obtain a City-owned lot where people can dump materials legally for collection.

He would seek to make sure all security cameras are in working condition. He would press for more cameras and better lighting for businesses.

ADDING to his amazing collection of Philadelphia campaign buttons, Lou Lanni added a new one: his own. Lanni claimed to have turned in 183 signature sheets for his Democratic primary race against Councilman Mark Squilla.

Cruz is not for gentrification and does not support councilmanic prerogative. He advocates term limits for Council members.

In the recent brouhaha over candidates who have accepted donations from indicted IBEW Local 98’s leader John Dougherty’s various PACs, Cruz is bluntly loyal.

“John Dougherty is my friend,” he said. “In my career, I’ve solicited every political PAC there is and every contribution I will accept. It goes into my campaign fund, which is strictly accounted for. I don’t get a penny personally.”

In a part of town that stands out for the number of legal problems its elected officials have fallen into, Cruz’s point that he has never been charged with wrongdoing may win him street cred.

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