City Councilman Brian O’Neill enjoyed a comfortable re-election victory last month, but an examination of the numbers indicates that it’ll be a little bit of a tougher fight in four years.
O’Neill (R-10th dist.) was first elected in 1979 and earned a ninth four-year term on Nov. 8 when he defeated Democrat Bill Rubin by a count of 13,594 to 9,419, or 59 percent to 41 percent.
Democrats hold a 14-3 advantage in City Council and, in the recent redistricting process they tried their best to make sure the edge grows to 15-2 in 2015.
Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez (D-7th dist.) was crushed by Dan Savage in the May primary in the 56th Ward and wanted to dump the 25 divisions in the ward. Outgoing Councilwoman Joan Krajewski (D-6th dist.) has two divisions in the 56th Ward and, working in conjunction with then-Democratic candidate Bobby Henon, decided that she didn’t want the 6th Councilmanic District to absorb much of the 56th being vacated by Quinones-Sanchez.
O’Neill has 14 divisions in the 56th, and lost them by just 91 votes to Rubin.
However, Council dumped the other 27 divisions in the 56th Ward into the 10th district, and most of them are heavily Democratic.
O’Neill has said he doesn’t mind having the rest of the 56th, because he has represented those divisions in past years.
The councilman, though, is more upset at the territory that was taken away from him. Specifically, he wanted to maintain the 18 divisions in the 57th Ward, but he’ll have none in the next election cycle. Henon will represent all of the 57th.
In the race against Rubin, O’Neill won those divisions — generally in Holme Circle, Academy Gardens, Torresdale and Pennypack Woods — by 1,558-1,040.
O’Neill will also lose eight divisions spread across the 35th, 53rd and 65th wards. He won those by 123 votes.
As long as O’Neill stays strong in the 58th, 63rd and 66th wards, he should be fine in four years. But the loss of the 57th Ward divisions and the increase in the 56th Ward divisions will probably have a number of Democrats — including, perhaps, a few state representatives — eyeing the race in 2015.
Official results from the Nov. 8 election showed David Oh defeating Al Taubenberger by 203 votes for the seventh and final at-large City Council seat.
Democratic incumbents Bill Green Jim Kenney, Blondell Reynolds Brown, Wilson Goode Jr. and Bill Greenlee were easy winners.
Denny O’Brien was, by far, the leading Republican.
Taubenberger, president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, earned 6,606 more votes than Oh in the Northeast’s 14 wards.
Oh, a lawyer and ward leader from Southwest Philadelphia, made up the deficit in other sections of the city.
Democrat Stephanie Singer will be the next chairwoman of the city election commissioners’ office.
Singer was elected last month, along with Republican Al Schmidt and Democrat Anthony Clark.
In the primary last May, Singer successfully targeted 36-year incumbent Marge Tartaglione.
In the general election, Schmidt successfully argued that he’d be more effective than Republican incumbent Joe Duda.
Had Duda won, he likely would have voted to make the low-profile Clark the chairman.
Schmidt supported his fellow reformer, Singer.
“Al Schmidt and I were elected by our respective supporters because they want to see changes and improvements in the city commissioners’ office. And both of these things are coming,” Singer said.
Singer and Schmidt will assume office on Jan. 2.
The leaders of the Republican Party in Philadelphia and the suburban counties last week recommended that the Southeast Caucus endorse state Sen. John Rafferty for state attorney general.
Rafferty, elected in 2002, represents a district that includes portions of Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.
The Republican State Committee will endorse a candidate on Jan. 28. Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed is also seeking the endorsement. Rafferty is a former deputy attorney general.
Mike Meehan, general counsel of the Philadelphia Republican City Committee and chairman of the Southeast Caucus, cited Rafferty’s legislation to enhance penalties for driving under the influence and his co-sponsorship of measures to better track and prosecute sexual offenders.
“Senator Rafferty has been a leader in protecting the people of Pennsylvania, both as a senator and former deputy attorney general,” Meehan said.
The Democratic candidates are former prosecutors Dan McCaffery of Philadelphia and Kathleen Kane of Lackawanna County and former Bucks County congressman Patrick Murphy.
Republicans have won all eight races for attorney general since it was made an elected office in 1980.
John Vernon has ended his campaign for the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate nomination.
The retired U.S. Army colonel was hoping to challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. He didn’t have the personal wealth of a few candidates nor the name recognition of ex-state Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Sam Rohrer.
“After six months of being on the campaign trail, I’ve looked back upon the personal toll this journey has taken on my family and the sacrifice they have made to support my decision to run for the United States Senate. Now, after a lot of reflection and prayer, it is my time to support them, which is why I’ve made the decision to suspend my campaign,” he said.
Vernon plans to endorse one of the remaining candidates. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or email@example.com