Ex-Mayor Street becomes the issue in hot battle for 169th House seat

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.

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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