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 protégé, 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 fiancée, 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.
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.
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.
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