Northeast Times

Bid for O'Brien's seat is in full swing

Cam­paign Bits

(left) State Rep­res­ent­at­ive Can­did­ate Ed Neilson greets loc­al sup­port­er Ver­non Fletch­er dur­ing his of­fi­cial cam­paign open­ing at Grant Academy Shop­ping Cen­ter, Thursday, March 29, 2011, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Tom War­ing)

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In news from the 169th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict, which will fea­ture two con­tests on April 24, Demo­crat Ed Neilson at­trac­ted a huge crowd to the of­fi­cial open­ing of his cam­paign of­fice while Re­pub­lic­an John Mc­Cann picked up an en­dorse­ment.

The seat has been va­cant since Re­pub­lic­an Denny O’Bri­en joined City Coun­cil at the start of the year.

Neilson, a former elec­tri­cians’ uni­on of­fi­cial who was a deputy labor sec­ret­ary un­der Gov. Ed Rendell, will face Re­pub­lic­an Dave Kralle, a long­time O’Bri­en prot&ea­cute;g&ea­cute;, in a spe­cial elec­tion. Neilson will be un­op­posed in the Demo­crat­ic primary and will face the win­ner of the Mc­Cann/Kralle primary in the gen­er­al elec­tion.

Neilson’s of­fice is in the Grant Academy Shop­ping Cen­ter. Elec­ted of­fi­cials, ward lead­ers, uni­on bosses, a string band and oth­er sup­port­ers gathered on March 29 to greet the can­did­ate and eat a food spread big enough for an army.

Neilson, who has the en­dorse­ments of the po­lice and fire uni­ons, has raised about $125,000 and sent five dir­ect-mail pieces to homes. He’s been deal­ing with le­gis­lat­ors for 20 years, adding that his ex­per­i­ence sets him apart from Kralle.

“I’m the one who’s been in Har­ris­burg. I’m a homeown­er and have a fam­ily. I have a stake in the com­munity,” he said, adding that he’s a coach and Boy Scouts lead­er.

The win­ner of the spe­cial elec­tion will be sworn in to com­plete O’Bri­en’s two-year term, which ex­pires Nov. 30.

“Our com­munity has no voice in Har­ris­burg,” Neilson said. “Jobs are the big is­sue. Without jobs, people re­sort to crime.”

Mean­while, Mc­Cann has been en­dorsed by Hu­mane PA.

If elec­ted, Mc­Cann, a teach­er, has pledged to be com­mit­ted to the wel­fare of ab­used and aban­doned pets and an­im­als statewide. He’d as­sist or­gan­iz­a­tions who fight on be­half of an­im­als.

Mc­Cann and his fianc&ea­cute;e, Kristin, are care­takers of two res­cue an­im­als.

“I thank Hu­mane PA for their years of work on be­half of the help­less pets and an­im­als throughout the state, and I am thrilled to be en­trus­ted with their en­dorse­ment,” he said. “I plan on sup­port­ing le­gis­la­tion for years to come that will make pet own­ers and an­im­al lov­ers across the state proud.”

In oth­er con­tested primar­ies, Hu­mane PA en­dorsed Re­pub­lic­an John Ma­h­er for aud­it­or gen­er­al; Demo­crat Patrick Murphy for at­tor­ney gen­er­al; Demo­crat­ic Rep. Kev­in Boyle in the 172nd Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict; and Demo­crat­ic Rep. Mark Co­hen in the 202nd Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict.

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The state Le­gis­lat­ive Re­ap­por­tion­ment Com­mis­sion is likely to vote next week on new maps for dis­tricts in the Sen­ate and House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives.

State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) said the pub­lic would then have 30 days to com­ment on the pre­lim­in­ary plan. Some­time between mid-May and mid-June, the com­mis­sion would vote on a fi­nal plan, though the pub­lic would have 30 days to ap­peal to the Pennsylvania Su­preme Court.

In Janu­ary, the Su­preme Court re­jec­ted the ori­gin­al map that passed the com­mis­sion, writ­ing that it un­fairly split town­ships, bor­oughs and cit­ies.

Taylor said he ex­pects the new map to re­duce the num­ber of splits. He also be­lieves the North­east-based dis­tricts in the fi­nal map will mostly look like the ones that were re­jec­ted, ex­cept for Rep. Mark Co­hen’s dis­trict, which stretches from Lo­gan to Rhawn­hurst.

“Wards are just a con­veni­ence for vot­ing,” Taylor said. “There’s no neigh­bor­hood con­sist­ency. If you ask the av­er­age per­son what ward they live in, they would have no clue. They know their par­ish and neigh­bor­hood. Mu­ni­cip­al­it­ies are gov­ern­ments.”

Taylor ex­pects the 169th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict to be moved as it was in the re­jec­ted plan.

“On April 13, I think you will see that the pre­lim­in­ary map shows that it’s go­ing to York County,” he said.

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Former Pres­id­ent Bill Clin­ton last week en­dorsed former Lack­awanna County As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Kath­leen Kane for state at­tor­ney gen­er­al.

Kane faces former con­gress­man Patrick Murphy in the Demo­crat­ic primary.

Clin­ton is a former gov­ernor and at­tor­ney gen­er­al of Arkan­sas.

“Kath­leen Kane would make a great at­tor­ney gen­er­al. She’s smart and tough. She’s pro­sec­uted more than three-thou­sand cases, pro­tec­ted seni­or cit­izens and put child mo­lesters and vi­ol­ent crim­in­als be­hind bars,” Clin­ton said. “Kath­leen is a great Demo­crat who un­der­stands that an at­tor­ney gen­er­al’s job is to stand up for con­sumers and people. I’m proud to en­dorse my friend Kath­leen Kane, and I hope she’ll be­come the first wo­man ever elec­ted at­tor­ney gen­er­al by the people of Pennsylvania.”

Clin­ton spoke at a rally for Murphy in Bris­tol when he first ran for Con­gress in 2006. In 2008, Murphy en­dorsed Barack Obama over Hil­lary Clin­ton for the Demo­crat­ic pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion.

The Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate is Cum­ber­land County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Dav­id Freed.

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The Com­mit­tee of Sev­enty is look­ing for non-par­tis­an vo­lun­teers to take part in its Voter Pro­tec­tion Pro­gram on primary day.

Vo­lun­teers will as­sist voters, help ex­plain the state’s new voter iden­ti­fic­a­tion law and re­port prob­lems at the polls.

Any­one in­ter­ested can call 215-557-3600, Ext. 112 or vis­it www.sev­enty.org/vo­lun­teer ••

End­Frag­ment

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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