Northeast Times

Quiñones Sanchez soundly defeats former foe

The City Coun­cil­wo­man turned away Dan Sav­age a second time to keep her seat rep­res­ent­ing the 7th dis­trict.

Coun­cil­wo­man Maria Qui–ones Sanc­hez cel­eb­rates her primary vic­tory over former Coun­cil­man Danny Sav­age on Tues­day, May 17 at the New Pal­la­di­um on W. Al­legheny Ave. Kev­in Cook/for the Times

The 7th Coun­cil­man­ic Dis­trict looks odd on a map.

It starts above Gir­ard Av­en­ue and swells in North Phil­adelphia. A chubby arm of it sticks in­to Frank­ford and a spike of what looks like mis­matched jig­saw puzzle pieces reaches all the way up to Grant Av­en­ue in Bustleton.

The dis­trict’s fresh­man coun­cil­wo­man, Maria Quiñones Sanc­hez, won the right to con­tin­ue rep­res­ent­ing this ec­lect­ic col­lec­tion of poor to middle-class neigh­bor­hoods in last week’s Demo­crat­ic primary. She beat the 23rd Ward’s Demo­crat­ic lead­er, Daniel J. Sav­age, about 6-4.

Ac­cord­ing to un­of­fi­cial elec­tion res­ults, the in­cum­bent got 7,126 votes; the chal­lenger, 4,632.

A pre-elec­tion poll the coun­cil­wo­man had com­mis­sioned showed her tak­ing 59 per­cent of the vote. No Re­pub­lic­ans are run­ning, which means the fall gen­er­al elec­tion will be a no-con­test con­test for Quiñones Sanc­hez.

Sav­age, who had held the seat briefly be­fore los­ing to Quiñones Sanc­hez in the 2007 Demo­crat­ic primary, topped the coun­cil­wo­man in his home ward and crushed her in the North­east’s 56th Ward, but the coun­cil­wo­man’s elec­tion-night take on the per­cent­ages had her win­ning 4-1 be­low the Boulevard. With rain wa­ter­ing down a turnout that was as thin as turnip soup any­way, those kinds of num­bers eas­ily car­ried the in­cum­bent to vic­tory.

Lower turnout usu­ally fa­vors the in­cum­bent. Quiñones Sanc­hez, 42, was no ex­cep­tion to this long-ac­cep­ted rule. She won des­pite the fact that she ac­tu­ally got about 500 few­er votes than she did in 2007. Sav­age was about 1,500 votes be­low his 2007 totals. Only about 11,700 voted in the dis­trict race; that’s about 1,000 few­er than the total count in 2007.

However, things are dif­fer­ent now com­pared to 2007, the coun­cil­wo­man said.

“It’s not com­par­ing apples to apples,” she said.

She said the dis­trict has about 76,000 voters re­gistered in the two ma­jor parties and that her cam­paign had pre­dicted 10,000 would come to the polls May 17. In that re­gard, turnout was bet­ter than ex­pec­ted.

Most of the Demo­crat­ic Party’s dozen ward lead­ers were for Sav­age, who is one of their own, but their sup­port didn’t add up to much.

Sav­age won only four of those wards, all in the North­east. He had won only three of those four in 2007.

Al­though Sav­age, 40, hand­ily won his home ward in the lower North­east by about 2-1, his tally in the 23rd was only about two-thirds that of his 2007 num­ber. The coun­cil­wo­man’s num­bers were a hand­ful high­er.

Sav­age won the dis­trict’s single di­vi­sion in the North­east’s 63rd Ward by about 36 votes. He lost that ward by 9 votes in 2007. The chal­lenger also won the North­east’s 53rd Ward by al­most 200 votes, do­ing a bit bet­ter than he had in 2007.

It was the North­east’s 56th that gave Sav­age his largest mar­gin — al­most 1,000 votes — beat­ing Sanc­hez, 3-1.

In all the oth­er wards — the 7th, 18th, 19th, 31st, 33rd, 37th, 42nd and 43rd — Quiñones Sanc­hez picked up wins with de­cent-to-great mar­gins.

That split — the North­east sup­port­ing Sav­age while every oth­er part of the dis­trict back­ing Quiñones Sanc­hez — was pretty much the same in 2007.

In Kens­ing­ton’s 7th Ward, Quiñones Sanc­hez beat Sav­age by about 1,000 votes des­pite the fact that the ward’s lead­er, state Rep. An­gel Cruz, was back­ing the chal­lenger.

“”We knew we were go­ing in­to ter­rit­ory that was hos­tile,” she said the day after the elec­tion. “I walked many of those di­vi­sions my­self.”

The coun­cil­wo­man had pre­dicted she would win the 7th, the 43rd and her home area of the 18th Ward in Nor­ris Square.

In the 19th, her mar­gin was about 1,200.

“The 19th was key,” she said.

In the re­main­ing wards, the num­bers for both can­did­ates were low, but Quiñones Sanc­hez took them by mar­gins between 2-1 and 4-1. The coun­cil­wo­man also had bested Sav­age in all but one of those wards in 2007. That year, they were tied in the small part of 31st that is in the coun­cil­man­ic dis­trict.

Cam­paign fin­ance re­cords avail­able on the Com­mit­tee of 70’s Web site showed the coun­cil­wo­man had about $100,000 more to spend on her cam­paign than Sav­age had for his.

Both can­did­ates got money and en­dorse­ments from uni­ons and oth­er politi­cians.

The coun­cil­wo­man had the back­ing of plenty of big-name Demo­crats: May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter, Dis­trict At­tor­ney R. Seth Wil­li­ams, former Gov. Ed Rendell, state Sen. Tina Tartagli­one, state Reps. Dwight Evans and Tony Payton Jr. as well as U.S. Rep. Chaka Fat­tah and City Coun­cil col­leagues Anna Ver­na and Curtis Jones Jr.

Rendell, Fat­tah, Nut­ter, Ver­na and Jones com­bined, con­trib­uted more than $35,000 to the coun­cil­wo­man’s cam­paign.

Sav­age got some token amounts from some ju­di­cial can­did­ates and Demo­crat­ic wards, but his biggest con­tri­bu­tions came from uni­ons — about $52,000.

Quiñones Sanc­hez had an army of work­ers wear­ing yel­low T-shirts em­blazoned with her name and her lever num­ber, 191, get­ting out her vote on May 17.

Those sup­port­ers crammed in­to the New Pal­la­di­um on West Al­legheny Av­en­ue to party and cheer their can­did­ate when she ar­rived more than an hour after the polls closed.

“Thank you, thank you. Once again, your over­whelm­ing sup­port helped us win today. This is truly the people’s vic­tory,” Quiñones Sanc­hez said as the crowd chanted her name, clapped and blew whistles.

The 7th dis­trict is likely to change as the full Coun­cil uses the 2010 Census fig­ures to re­draw the city’s elect­or­al map. On elec­tion night, Quiñones Sanc­hez said she fa­vors keep­ing neigh­bor­hoods whole with­in coun­cil­man­ic dis­tricts.

“”There’s no reas­on for Ox­ford Circle to be in three dis­tricts,” she said.

Quiñones Sanc­hez said she and her Coun­cil col­leagues hope to con­clude re­draw­ing Phil­adelphia’s coun­cil­man­ic map by the end of the year. ••

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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