In the closing days of the special election and Republican primary in the 169th Legislative District, former Mayor John Street has become a key figure.
Street, a Democrat, was elected mayor in 1999 in a close race against Republican Sam Katz. He defeated Katz by a larger margin in a 2003 rematch.
Among the key supporters of Street in those campaigns was International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98.
Ed Neilson, the Democratic candidate in the 169th district, is a former political director of Local 98. Union boss John Dougherty chairs his campaign.
Interestingly, Street has made two donations to Republican Dave Kralle’s campaign in the 169th. He sent $250 on Feb. 25 and $100 on March 14.
Katz, too, has donated to Kralle.
When the Times asked Kralle about Street’s donations earlier this month, he said he took a class that Street taught at Temple University. He explained that the former mayor’s online contributions were unsolicited.
Kralle faces Neilson in the special election and John McCann in the primary. The seat has been vacant since Denny O’Brien resigned to join City Council earlier this year.
On April 19, McCann sent a “Dear Neighbors” letter that describes him as the “ONLY TRUE REPUBLICAN IN THE RACE.”
“It will alarm you to know, as it did me, that my opponent Dave Kralle solicited and received two generous campaign contributions from ex-Mayor and defiant Democrat John Street, who presided over one of the most corrupt administrations in the recent history of our city,” the letter stated.
Also, Neilson for the Northeast put out a flier proclaiming that, “25-year-old Dave Kralle will say or do anything to get elected.” It dismissed Kralle as an “immature kid” who lives with his mom.
The flier, which includes language similar to McCann’s letter, goes on to say, “Kralle, a Republican, accepted two generous campaign contributions from Democratic ex-Mayor John Street, whose administration was one of the most corrupt in recent history.”
In an email to the Times, Street wrote, “The contributions were unsolicited. David was one of my best students at Temple. He has an unusual and very mature grasp of the issues facing the city and commonwealth. I believe he is a rare talent in spite of any differences we may have on the issues. He’s a breath of fresh air in the Republican party. I predict he just may one day be mayor. He’s smart, talented and caring.”
As for the Neilson for the Northeast flier, Street said, “Some people think all voters are stupid and gullible.”
The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of O’Brien’s term, which ends this year. The winner of the general election will serve a two-year term.
The Legislative Reapportionment Commission plans to move the seat to York County, beginning in 2015.