On The Campaign Trail With John Dougherty

I can’t tell you what the formula for success is, but I can tell you what the formula for failure is, and that is trying to please everybody. John Dougherty will never please the Fumocrats, the Dickerites or the Farnesians. But he will please the rest of us in the 1st Dist. and he will be successful in providing the very best leadership through uniting his constituents around common causes and inspiring them to dream more, learn more and do more. I’m one of the hundreds of men, women and children in attendance at the EOM kick-off rally for John Dougherty.

“It’s impossible to imagine anyone not being behind him,” says resident Barbara Werner. “He’s an incredible guy!” exclaims Eleanor Loverdi. Neighbors for years, these women tell me Johnny Doc “will do anything for anybody.”

Frank Gallagher, president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians #87, is holding up a Stagehands banner. “Dougherty is a proud member of the AOH. We support him 100%.”

WOGL-98 FM radio personality Bob Pantano, who never talks politics, rhymes his happiness for him, “He’s the man with the plan!”

Radio legend Kal Rudman whispers in my ear, “John Dougherty was president of the Variety Club for four years. He took that organization financially from the doghouse to the penthouse.”

Sam Staten, Jr., of the Laborers Union District Council Local 332, is emphatic: “We only get one shot at this and we’ve got to get it done.”

State Rep. Bill Keller, who has witnessed the bloat in Harrisburg, assures us, “John Dougherty is not going to take care of himself; he is going to take care of us.”

Councilman Bill Green IV is awestruck, saying, “Dougherty is a political powerhouse without even being in office.”

Unlike some politicians who seem to go through wives and girlfriends like wet towels on gym day, John Dougherty is loyal and true-blue to wife Cecilia and has been with her through thick and thin. “In my darkest days, when I was recovering from my stroke, my husband never, ever gave up on me. He still comes home for lunch.” Whether he’s sharing the simple pleasures of a peanut-butter sandwich washed down with cold milk or shooting a few hoops in the ‘hood, Dougherty is family man who never forgot where he came from because he never left.

His daughter Erin runs The Philadelphia Electrical Technology School, a charter school founded by her father. I corral her after the ceremony and tell her about one of her students, a girl whose house burned down. “We’re very aware of her plight and have made a monetary donation and we’re helping her out in every way we can.” The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I’m surprised to see Father Joseph Kelley, pastor of St. Monica’s Parish. A firm believer in separation of Church and state, I learn that Father Kelley is friends with the Dougherty family and has been for 20 years. “I was pastor at Sacred Heart parish before going to St. Monica’s and know the family well. John is a man of integrity and a good practising Catholic.”

Mark Chilutti, Assistant VP of Magee Rehabilitation Center, is on stage in his wheelchair. A gunshot victim during a robbery, he backs Dougherty and believes he can get guns out of the hands of criminals. “I’m in this wheelchair because of gun violence. We have to believe it can be done with good leadership.”

Bringing the house down with his “a capella” rendition of God Bless America and Tura Lura Lural (That’s an Irish Lullaby), was the favorite singer of Gov. Ed Rendell, teenage vocalist Tim Kelly. “I was honored to be asked to sing,” enthuses the 14-year-old. “I would do anything for Mr. Dougherty.”

Later on that evening, noted lawyers and laureates at The Saloon threw their support Dougherty’s way. “We’re 1000% behind him, says Edward Nesmith.

Nesmith invites me to a rally for Dougherty at the Point Breeze Community Center at 25th & Dickinson the next evening.

It’s pouring rain when I arrive, but there’s a full crowd. Suddenly, the place resounds with applause as Dougherty walks in and wows the crowd. “Helping isn’t putting a net on a basketball hoop. It’s getting the thugs to put their guns down. I will open a satellite office in Point Breeze. I know some of you haven’t seen the Senator in 20 years, but I promise you, you will see me and I will hire from this neighborhood. My priorities are crime, jobs, recreation and opportunity.” A sense of relief comes over the room, and the hand shaking and photo opps begin. Barbara Washington gives me the Number One sign, “We’re going to win!”

To those who are against John Dougherty, I’ve discovered mediocrity vigorously opposes a great spirit. The very best fight is provided by a leader who is bright and unselfish, with an insightful personality. That leader is John Dougherty.