POLS ON THE STREET: Time for the Last Word on Money

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HARDCORE Democratic Party activists made a show of unity at the Jefferson-Jackson affair. L-R were Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr., City Council candidate Omar Sabir, DCC Chairman Bob Brady, endorsed at-large councilmanic candidate Isaiah Thomas and City Council President Darrell Clarke. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Tomorrow will be the day for Cycle 2 campaign-finance reports to be filed. Expert all political insiders to start rooting through Board of Elections data from then through Monday, trying to scope out the relative and absolute strength of front-runners.

It’s held that any citywide race should cost at least $100,000. District Council races can go for less, but not necessarily in competitive ones.

By that measure, the end of Cycle 1 last month saw three at-large Council incumbents already way over, in the neighborhood of $400,000: Allan Domb, Derek Green and Helen Gym. Incumbent David Oh had already reached that threshold as had three challengers: Justin DiBerardinis, Eryn Santamoor and Isaiah Thomas.

The 2nd District was already money-drenched, with incumbent Kenyatta Johnson blazing at $400,000; yet his challenger, Lauren Vidas, had amassed a respectable $100,000.

CITY COMMISSION Chair Lisa Deeley called her backers to 1518 Bar & Grill on Sansom Street. L-R were former Sheriff Barbara Deeley, Ward Leader John Sabatina, Sr., Lisa Deeley and Ward Leader Pat Parkinson. Photo by Wendell Douglas

1st District incumbent Mark Squilla was holding $300,000 against light opposition. The 10th District’s Brian O’Neill had $100,000 to work with against his Democratic challenger. The 7th District’s Maria Quiñones-Sánchez had a pot of $100,000 with which to ward off challenger State Rep. Angel Cruz.

In the 3rd District, incumbent Jannie Blackwell and challenger Jamie Gauthier were strikingly tied at $150,000 each.

The hotly contested City Commissioners’ Democratic primary already had three candidates past the $100,000 mark: incumbent Lisa Deeley, Kahlil Williams and Omar Sabir.

Sheriff Jewell Williams had already squirreled away $100,000 in his race against two opponents.

The last week out is when a heavy expenditure on street money and advertising can make a big difference. Who else will come up with that magic $100,000?

THE HILTON on City Line Avenue was the scene of a birthday gathering for Congressman Dwight Evans. Hundreds were on hand to wish Evans, L, well, including State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, her husband Yancy Harrell, State Sen. Sharif Street, City Commission Chair Lisa Deeley and Councilman Allan Domb.

Kenney Backs New Voting Machines in Controversy

A rarely encountered controversy over the purchase of new voting equipment first enlivened the 13-way Democratic primary race for two slots on City Commission, which oversees elections.

City Commissioners Lisa Deeley and Al Schmidt had ordered new voting machines to comply with a State mandate to install systems more secure against hacking in time for the November General Election. Although the RFP went through and was vetted by the City Purchasing Department, critics charged, with no particular evidence, that the specifications may have been weighted to favor one vendor; also that there were safer systems than the one finally chosen.

Controller Rebecca Rhynhart jumped into the fray, announcing that she would not sign off on payment before doing an investigation of her own. A bit awkward, that: Some of the machines have already been delivered and the complex process of gearing up the Board of Elections to deploy the new gear must start right after the May 21 primary.

COUNCILMAN Kenyatta Johnson held a fish fry at the 22nd Street Café in Point Breeze during his re-election campaign. Joining him in his quest to represent the city’s 2nd District once more were, L-R, Superior Court candidate Amanda Green-Hawkins, Johnson, City Commission Chair Lisa Deeley and Common Pleas Court candidate Anthony Kyriakakis.

But Rhynhart maintains that it is unusual for deliveries to be made before a contract has been finalized. “I’m doing my job, and my job is to safeguard taxpayer money,” she asserted.

Now Mayor Jim Kenney has spoken out in City Commission’s defense. While City contracts aren’t part of his job, he insisted, his office sees no problems with the way the purchase is being handled – and serious problems if it is held up or impeded. Of Rhynhart, he said, “We think she’s wrong; we did our due diligence. I don’t know what her problem is.”

Donatucci, Gordon Wage War over Endorsements

Register of Wills Ron Donatucci took a shot at one of his challengers, former Deputy City Commissioner Tracey Gordon, who recently picked up the endorsement of the good-government 9th Ward Democratic Committee. Irate, Donatucci tipped off the committee that Gordon had been fined by the Board of Ethics in 2016 for six violations during her tenure working under City Commission Chair Stephanie Singer.

CITY COMMISSION candidate Kahlil Williams rallied an impressive number of supporters at a fundraiser at Griffin Rooftop in Center City. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Donatucci said he believed the 9th Ward Democrats would rescind their endorsement as a result although we have not yet been able to confirm that.

In the meantime, Gordon notched up a second endorsement – that of Philly for Change. This progressive activist group, which focuses on local races, is notoriously choosy, requiring a 60% approval of its members for an endorsement. Among the entire crowded councilmanic field, only 7th District incumbent Maria Quiñones-Sánchez won its backing.

Bilal Scores New Boosters

Candidate for sheriff Rochelle Bilal also picked up a Philly for Change endorsement. On May 1.

A DELIGHTFUL reception was held for Judge Dan McCaffery at Giuseppe’s on Sansom Street. All wished McCaffery well as he seeks a seat on the State Superior Court. Mc Caffery, L, was cheered on by Nino Tinari, Esq.; John Cordisco, Bucks County Democratic Chairman; and State Sen. John Sabatina, Jr. Photo by Joe Stivala

To that, she can now add that of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women.

“The local chapter was officially founded in 1971 and has fought for diversity and inclusion from the outset,” said Bilal. “They have a long history of helping to elect strong leaders in our city and I am proud to have received their support. I know that I will be able to embody the values that NOW is focused on to make this city a place where all people feel included and supported.”

Yu Cites Numerous Endorsements

Another Philly for Change and NOW endorsee is Common Pleas Court candidate Kay Yu. But PfC is not alone in choosing her. Yu claims a rack of backers, including the high-turnout 1st, 2nd, 5th, 8th and 9th Wards.

A STEADY STREAM of candidates over a three-hour period flocked to the 46th Ward Meeting hosted by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell seeking approval by committeepersons. All were welcomed to an attentive audience and warm meal. Blackwell welcomed the first wave of candidates: Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown (not seeking re-election); Dennis Lee, candidate for City Commission; Council Members Helen Gym and Isaiah Thomas; Blackwell; Katherine Gilmore-Richardson, Council at Large recommended replacement for Reynolds Brown; Sandra Dungee Glenn, candidate for Council at large; and Common Pleas Court candidates Wendi Barish and Anthony Kyriakakis. Photo by Joe Stivala

With her are Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania, Second Generation PAC, Faculty & Staff Federation of Community College of Philadelphia, AFSCME District Council 47, Millennials in Action and Korean American Chamber of Commerce for Philadelphia.

Congressman Dwight Evans and Councilman Bill Greenlee have backed her as have State Reps. Donna Bullock, Morgan Cephas, Jordan Harris, Joseph Hohenstein, Malcolm Kenyatta, Joanna McClinton, Brian Sims and Jared Solomon.

Kyriakakis Touts Crop of Backers

Anthony Kyriakakis, who is running for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, is also looking good on the endorsement sheet.

His campaign has announced he has gotten the nod from the Laborers’ District Council, Philadelphia Black Clergy and NOW this past week.

These endorsements are added to a growing list of unions and organizations including endorsements from Philadelphia Democratic City Committee, Liberty City Democrat Club, Sprinkler Fitters Local 692, Philadelphia Metal Trades Council, AFSCME District Council 47, Philadelphia Fire Fighters & Paramedics Union, Teamsters Joint Council 53, Plumbers Local 690 and Sheet Metal Workers Local 19. Anthony has also received the highest rating from the Philadelphia Bar Association of “Highly Recommended.”

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