To be capable of lasting friendships, one must have not only a strong mind but a good heart. The verve and energy of real people at the pep rally for Dougherty for Senate was as exciting as a touchdown run. But who are these people – nearly a thousand of them – I wondered? I’m sandwiched between Southern HS Athletic Hall of Fame member Kenny Adams and his brother, Shooting Stars Capt. Michael “Mickey” Adams. With a broad sweeping gesture around McFadden’s where the event was held, Kenny simply said, “These are Doc’s friends. They’ve been friends with him. They’ve been loyal to him because he’s been loyal to them. He doesn’t hurt them, he helps them. He doesn’t threaten them.” Mickey lets me know, “These are people from all over the different neighborhoods, Irish, Italian, Polish, Albanian, you name it. He’s always been good for the neighborhood; just imagine what he can do for the Senatorial District.”

Overhearing my conversation with the Adams brothers, Marge Schernecke, a retired SEPTA employee, chimed in, “He’s the only qualified person running. It’s imperative to get him in. I volunteered 30 years with QVNA and he strongly fought for our issues. He won’t stab us in the back like the previous administration.”

Father and son, John and Dan Stevenson are sitting at the bar, sharing a couple of cold ones. “I’m here,” begins Dan, “because John Dougherty literally saved our neighborhood. He gave every kid who wanted to work, a job. My family goes to the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and he is there every single week.”

Bill Murtha, Charlie Chew, and Joe Black, a trio of good buddies, now retired and enjoying life, are animated in their endorsement for Dougherty. ”Listen,” Black whispers in my ear, “if Doc could do half as much as he did for the neighborhood, we’d be 10 times better than we are now.”

Councilman Bill Green IV strides in and waves a golf towel with Dougherty’s name on it. Do you think Doc can be a good Senator? is my question for him. “John Dougherty is the only person that can go to Harrisburg on day one and have the same passion and energy he has for his members. There is no doubt that he can and will be a good Senator,” he answers.
Joe Rafter, owner of Liberties Restaurant, high-fives Marty Farrell of Muller’s Beer. “This town is for Johnny Doc!”

Brian Burrow, the newly-elected president of Local 98, shares a story with me. “We were apprentices 28 years ago. I remember John said to me at that time, ‘Brian, I’m going to be Governor one day.’ Look at him now. He’s the future State Senator. Fumo did a great job for 30 years but it’s time to move on.”

Harry Foy, retired President of Local 98 has only three words. “He’s our guy.”

Mike Driscoll of Finnigan’s Wake taps me on the shoulder. “When he wins on Apr. 22, ‘Joe Average’ is back in business. He’s the right guy at the right time.”

Director of Sales for the Philly Soul, and radio announcer for 950 ESPN, Joe Krause, nearly flips his trademark Kanga hat. “I met John Dougherty four years ago but it seems like I’ve known him for 20 years. He’s the most genuine man alive and he holds that candle every single day. I’m here for who he is.”

Jack Keenan, owner of Keenan’s Bar in Wildwood, calls me over to his table and compares the skills Dougherty has honed over the years. “He is one of the greatest labor leaders in Philadelphia and will be one of the greatest Senators in the state of Pennsylvania.”

Another friend, Bob DeBolt, who is in restaurant development, has a long history with Dougherty. “I’ve known John for 18 years. In energy and fortitude he has always increased by leaps and bounds which has enabled him to be in the position to be the next senator here in Philadelphia.”

Salesman Bill McKeown paints me a picture of his enthusiasm. “The zeal John Dougherty exhibits is what the state of Pennsylvania needs. I’m privileged to come down and support Dougherty. As a disabled Vietnam Vet, the importance of his compassion, sincerity and genuine care will affect the entire Senate.”

All of a sudden the crowd goes wild, chanting “Doc! Doc! Doc!” as Dougherty appears at the door. There is an absolute aura around the man. I wave him over and ask him about the spirited throng. “It’s awesome,” he concedes. “It’s always your friends that push you over the finish line.”

Each of these friends represents a world in John Dougherty and faithful friends are a strong protection and true treasures.