POLS ON THE STREET: Statewide Races Go Official

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PENNSYLVANIA’S two U.S. senators, Bob Casey, L, and Pat Toomey came together from opposite sides of the aisle ceremonially to ring the Liberty Bell on Martin Luther King Day. More coverage of the day’s events PP. 8-9. Photo by Wendell Douglas

BY JOE SHAHEELI
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is now on the record: He will run for re-election in 2022. In other breaking news, water is wet.

Barring the unforeseen, no one ever expects Shapiro to stop running for his office – or any other office, for that matter. And why should he? He has been successful at running for office and dynamic in every office he has held, while dodging even a whiff of scandal. Only 46, Shapiro has every reason to consider a long and varied political career in his future.

Regardless, an announced Republican opponent will try to make hay of this likelihood, wittily.

Heather Heidelbaugh, a former one-term Allegheny County councilmember, has tossed her hat in the race by commenting, “Josh Shapiro today announced plans to run for Temporary Attorney General in the 2020 elections, an office he considers a convenient parking place until he can launch his campaign for governor.”

VYING for the 190th Legislative District seat in the February special election, five candidates spoke at a Parkside Association forum: L-R, Roy Ligon, Ted Smith, Democrat Roni Green, Danielle Patterson and Republican Wanda Logan. Amen Brown is also running and was present. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Heidelbaugh continued, “’Josh is excellent at almost every job he quits,’” said one political pundit. “’I have watched a lot of career politicians come and go in Harrisburg, but Josh quits jobs like nobody I’ve seen. He was born to quit this job.’”

Very funny. Now the numbers.

Shapiro starts off the New Year with $3 million in the bank. No serious Democrat will challenge him in the primary, so he has nine months to raise $X million more. Plus he can earn free press by doing official things, lots of them.

In addition, Shapiro hails from suburban Southeastern Philadelphia, the State Democratic Party’s latest nuclear weapon.

A generation ago, Philadelphia’s four collar counties often voted Republican, in part as an expression of hostility to their inner city. No more. Our region’s voters, and now their political representatives, increasingly move as a bloc with common views and shared concerns. They don’t identify with Midstate and Western Pennsylvania’s increasingly Trumpy tendency and they don’t like Republicans who are too shrill.

With this wind in his sails, expect Shapiro to run for re-election in 2022. And for election in 2024, and 2026….But Philly’s huge Dem vote pool is a potential tool for a party rebel. One party rebel at most, though.

Perhaps Ahmad and Butkovitz should get together, flip a coin and pick one to take on their establishment as a team.

Auditor General Race Splits City Pols

COUNCILMEMBER Cindy Bass was one of many civic leaders to speak about the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s influence on society. Phot by Wendell Douglas

Democratic Party of Pennsylvania leaders appear to be coalescing around a Southwestern Pennsylvania auditor general candidate to replace Eugene DePasquale, who is stepping down to run for Congress.

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb has gotten the nod from Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, on the other side of the state. The reasoning is that since Shapiro is from the Southeast, DPP must pick a ticketmate from the Southwest to put that region’s Trump surge in check.

That’s bad news for Philadelphia candidates Alan Butkovitz, a former City controller (of a government five times bigger than Pittsburgh) and Nina Ahmad (a former deputy mayor under Kenney).

National Leftists Aim to Flip Pa. General Assembly

One of the USA’s young post-2016 progressive organizations, Swing Left, targets State legislative seats because it saw how powerful the Right became by targeting State governments in 2010.

Swing Left was active in the 2018 election, which saw Keystone State Republicans lose several seats (and thereby supermajority power) in the General Assembly. It’s coming back for more, putting resources into five State Senate races and 16 State House races. Most of its effort will go into defeating Republicans in suburban districts but it will also shore up a few Democrats in Trump-trending districts.

D.A. LARRY KRASNER, 3rd from R, and wife Judge Lisa Rau, R, enjoyed a wine & cheese in University City with a group of recent alumni from his alma mater, the University of Chicago, who now live in Philadelphia.

Democrats need to pick up four seats in the Senate and nine in the House to break Republican control.

Swing Left also aims to flip seats in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, N. Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

Saval Picks up Another Union Backer

Insurgent Nikil Saval, former Democratic 2nd Ward Leader, picked up another labor endorsement.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division – International Brotherhood of Teamsters fell in with Saval’s campaign for the 1st State Senate District, which takes in South Philadelphia east of Broad Street along with the lower River Wards, in a challenge to incumbent State Sen. Larry Farnese.

DOBBINS High School got $60,000 to upgrade its aging gymnasium equipment, thanks to a DCEP grant request facilitated by State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.

“Nikil joined UNITE Here’s picket lines at Philadelphia’s airport and was locked up alongside union members in a show of civil disobedience during a contract fight for food-service workers represented by UNITE Here and Teamsters,” commented Freddie Simpson, president of BMWED-IBT.

Kane Plans Second Go Against Killion

Democrat John Kane (SD-9) has over 40 local, county, legislative and statewide elected officials are endorsing his campaign to knock off 9th District State Sen. Gene Killion (R-Chester). Both Chester County Democratic Commissioners and a majority of the Delaware County Council have endorsed Kane, so far. Kane also announced that he raised over $435,000 in just the first month of his campaign.

CONGRESSWOMAN Mary Gay Scanlon was at the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast. Seen here with State Rep. Joanna McClinton.

Kane is business manager/financial secretary-treasurer of Plumbers Union 690, a powerhouse in the Delaware Valley. This will be his second political campaign.

“I am grateful for the outpouring of support from leaders in Delaware and Chester Counties, as well as from across our state,” said Kane. “They know my record and commitment to helping people here at home because I have been partnering with them for years to make meaningful progress.”

“I will continue to partner with our leaders to protect a woman’s right to choose, fight for common sense gun control, equal pay for equal work, and to make health care affordable for everyone,” said Kane. “I am equally dedicated to protecting our environment and our communities by holding Sunoco and its Mariner pipeline Kane has unanimous endorsements from all Democrats.

188th Dist. Race Consolidates 2 Candidates

State representative candidates Rick Krajewski and Kehinde Whetstone held a joint press conference with a major announcement in the primary election for the 188th District: They’re teaming up.

NEARLY 200 attended the Reclaim Philadelphia citywide meeting at Calvary Center, 48th & Baltimore Avenue. The attendees heard State Senate opponents Larry Farnese and Nicki Saval speak. State Rep. Jim Roebuck and challenger Rick Krajewski were given time to address the audience. State Reps. Mary Isaacson and Elizabeth Fiedler were also speakers. Attendees were asked to pay monthly dues to Reclaim. Photos by Joe Stivala

Whetstone announced that he is suspending his campaign and endorsing Krajewski. Krajewski and Whetstone have been meeting since the late summer and have always maintained a positive relationship and recognition that they align on the major issues facing West Philadelphia and the leadership needed to confront these challenges.

This announcement is a milestone in the campaign for this West Philly seat as two progressives with powerful backgrounds in community organizing are joining forces.

Krajewski is up against incumbent State Rep. Jim Roebuck, who is also being challenged by 51st Ward Leader Gregory Benjamin. This becomes a retail political three-way race in a district where seasoned gentrifiers, bluecollar Blacks and younger activists maintain a restless balance.

Whetstone said, “Rick is someone that I believe in, and if you have supported me in my campaign for this seat, you can feel comfortable that after many conversations I can attest that Rick and I share the same values, the same goals, and the same desire to see a progressive sitting in this seat.”

Krajewski responded, “I am thrilled to have the support of Kehinde Whetstone in pursuing this vision of radical investment in our district. With this election, we have an opportunity to unite progressives throughout West Philadelphia with an agenda that represents all of us.”

New Ward Leaders, More or Less

Two shifts in Democratic Party leadership have taken place.

POPULAR John DelRicci, R, was elected recently by committeepersons as Democratic leader of Ward 66B. John is seen with his lovely wife Sarah and Democratic Party Chairman Robert Brady. Photo courtesy of Joe Shay Stivala Facebook page

In the Northeast 66A Ward, the torch was passed to Ward Chairman John DelRicci after the fabled Michael McAleer’s passing. There was some commotion over the decision, as is customary in the Northeast. Shawn Dillon, the leader of Ward 66B, had backed Janice Tangradi for that role. But the ward chairman calls the shots and calls the meeting when the ward leader is deceased, and the ward chair won this election. Such is the power of that post.

In Center City’s 8th Ward, State Sen. Larry Farnese, while not formally resigning as leader, is stepping back from organizing duties. He is facing a primary challenge from Nikil Saval, who formally resigned as 2nd Ward leader in order to run.

Look for ward co-chairs Michael Weiss and Elaine Petrossian to handle the bulk of party business during this busy election year.

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