Northeast Times

Race for O'Brien's seat a double-header

Cam­paign bits

Start­Frag­ment

The April 24 primary re­mains on sched­ule, as the Le­gis­lat­ive Re­ap­por­tion­ment Com­mis­sion post­poned a hear­ing it sched­uled for last Fri­day.

The com­mis­sion’s maps for seats in the state Sen­ate and House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives were ruled un­con­sti­tu­tion­al by the Pennsylvania Su­preme Court be­cause they split town­ships, bor­oughs and cit­ies.

Demo­crats want to hold the primary as sched­uled, guess­ing that they’ll have a bet­ter chance of eat­ing in­to GOP con­trol of the Sen­ate and House. Some Re­pub­lic­ans want to draw a new map in time for this year, al­though the primary would have to be moved back to at least early May to ac­com­mod­ate po­ten­tial chal­lenges and a court re­view of the plan.

Mean­while, the Su­preme Court last week ordered House Speak­er Sam Smith to sched­ule six spe­cial elec­tions for April 24. Smith grudgingly agreed, say­ing he wanted to avoid a con­sti­tu­tion­al crisis. He ad­ded that an “act­iv­ist ma­jor­ity” of the court has an agenda.

Re­pub­lic­ans hold  110 House seats. Demo­crats have 87. There are four va­cant Demo­crat­ic seats and two va­cant GOP seats.

The pre­vi­ous hold­ers of the seats all won elec­tion to new of­fices last Novem­ber. One open seat is the Far North­east’s 169th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict seat, formerly rep­res­en­ted by Re­pub­lic­an at-large City Coun­cil­man Denny O’Bri­en.

The oth­er Re­pub­lic­an seat be­longed to Doug Reich­ley, who was elec­ted to Le­high County Com­mon Pleas Court.

The Demo­crat­ic seats were giv­en up by Kenyatta John­son (now a Phil­adelphia coun­cil­man), Jew­ell Wil­li­ams (now Phil­adelphia’s sher­iff), Josh Sha­piro (now a Mont­gomery County com­mis­sion­er) and Chelsa Wag­n­er (now Al­legheny County’s con­trol­ler).

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John Mc­Cann, a Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate in the 169th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict, has re­leased a six-point pub­lic edu­ca­tion re­form plan and is cri­ti­ciz­ing the pay­ments of per diems to law­makers.

Mc­Cann is a teach­er in the Prin­ceton Re­gion­al School Dis­trict.

His plan calls for great­er em­phas­is on tech­no­logy; a re­newed com­mit­ment to vo­ca­tion­al schools; put­ting pub­lic school teach­ers on the School Re­form Com­mis­sion; re­con­fig­ur­ing the school year, since stud­ies show that stu­dents of­ten re­gress with a pro­longed sum­mer break; a fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing in­nov­at­ive ways to meas­ure stu­dent pro­gress over the course of the school year, rather than on a single stand­ard­ized test; and the teach­ing of such char­ac­ter is­sues as re­spect for au­thor­ity, con­flict res­ol­u­tion, em­pathy, per­sever­ance, per­son­al re­spons­ib­il­ity, healthy life­styles, cit­izen­ship and real plan­ning for the fu­ture.

As for per diems, Mc­Cann, if elec­ted, will not ac­cept the $163 a day le­gis­lat­ors get for lodging and meals. He calls it a “dis­gust­ing mis­use” of tax dol­lars.

“Le­gis­lat­ors already make over $79,000 a year to do their job. They don’t need walk­ing around money on top of it,” said Mc­Cann, who also pledged to vote against pay and staff in­creases.

The 169th dis­trict seat has been va­cant since Denny O’Bri­en joined City Coun­cil at the be­gin­ning of the year. Mc­Cann’s foe in the primary is Dave Kralle, an aide to O’Bri­en in his House and Coun­cil of­fices. Kralle has the party en­dorse­ment.

The Demo­crat­ic can­did­ate is Ed Neilson, a former of­fi­cial with the In­ter­na­tion­al Broth­er­hood of Elec­tric­al Work­ers Loc­al 98 and in the Rendell ad­min­is­tra­tion who now works as dir­ect­or of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and gov­ern­ment re­la­tions for a law of­fice.

Kralle and Neilson will likely square off in the April 24 spe­cial elec­tion.

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George Weiss, the Re­pub­lic­an chal­lenger to state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.), said there is no mer­it to a chal­lenge of his nom­in­at­ing pe­ti­tions.

A chal­lenge was brought by Ana­stas­ia Lod­ise, moth­er of Boyle’s chief of staff, Dan Lod­ise.

A hear­ing is sched­uled for Tues­day in Com­mon­wealth Court. The chal­lenge will be based on res­id­ency, not sig­na­tures.

Weiss said he has lived on Dorothy Drive in Somer­ton since last May, mak­ing him eli­gible to run for the seat.

A Re­altor, Weiss de­scribes him­self as a “loc­al busi­ness­man” and de­rides Boyle as a “ca­reer politi­cian.”

“Brendan’s ob­sessed with threats to his polit­ic­al ca­reer,” he said.

Weiss would rather talk about im­prov­ing the eco­nomy, strength­en­ing Cath­ol­ic schools and mak­ing sure the city doesn’t raise prop­erty taxes as part of the up­com­ing Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive.

As for a Boyle-com­mis­sioned poll that showed the in­cum­bent with a whop­ping lead of 64.25 per­cent to 17.80 per­cent, Weiss said that’s a good start for his cam­paign. He reas­ons that the only people who know he’s run­ning are his fam­ily, close friends and those who’ve seen his name men­tioned in news­pa­per art­icles.

If Weiss is knocked off the bal­lot, he’d con­duct a write-in cam­paign on primary day so his name ap­pears on the gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot.

••

At the start of the race for state at­tor­ney gen­er­al, Fraternal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 5 en­dorsed Demo­crat Dan Mc­Caf­fery.

Soon there­after, Mc­Caf­fery dropped out of the primary, un­able to match the fund-rais­ing abil­ity of former con­gress­man Patrick Murphy or the wealth of former Lack­awanna County As­sist­ant Dis­trict At­tor­ney Kath­leen Kane.

Last week, the FOP held a news con­fer­ence to en­dorse Murphy, a former pro­sec­utor and son of a re­tired Phil­adelphia po­lice of­ficer.

Murphy named John McNesby, pres­id­ent of the uni­on, hon­or­ary cam­paign chair­man. He’ll ad­vise the cam­paign on law en­force­ment is­sues and talk to voters about the can­did­ate’s plan to work more closely with loc­al po­lice de­part­ments to pro­tect chil­dren from sexu­al pred­at­ors and crack down on vi­ol­ent crime.

“Wheth­er it was fight­ing to put more cops on the street, or the re­sources we need to pro­tect our chil­dren from sexu­al pred­at­ors, Patrick has al­ways done whatever it takes to keep our fam­il­ies safe,” McNesby said.

Also at­tend­ing the news con­fer­ence was Dis­trict At­tor­ney Seth Wil­li­ams, who en­dorsed Murphy earli­er in the cam­paign. Wil­li­ams de­feated Mc­Caf­fery in the 2009 primary.

Murphy de­feated Re­pub­lic­an in­cum­bent Mike Fitzpatrick in 2006 and was re-elec­ted in 2008, but lost a re­match to Fitzpatrick two years ago. FOP Lodge 5 en­dorsed Fitzpatrick in both of those cam­paigns.

The Demo­crat­ic primary in­cludes a third can­did­ate, Don Bailey, a former con­gress­man and state aud­it­or gen­er­al.

The Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate is Dav­id Freed, dis­trict at­tor­ney of Cum­ber­land County.

••

Jim­mie Moore, a former Mu­ni­cip­al Court judge, has dropped out of the Demo­crat­ic primary in the 1st Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict.

Moore was chal­len­ging Rep. Bob Brady. In a state­ment, he claimed he was ex­it­ing the race to uni­fy the Demo­crat­ic Party,

Brady was strengthened dur­ing re­dis­trict­ing, when he took areas of Brides­burg, Port Rich­mond, Wissi­nom­ing, Ta­cony, Holmes­burg, East Tor­res­dale and West May­fair from fel­low Demo­crat­ic Rep. Allyson Schwartz.

Moore and Brady pledged to work to­geth­er for the good of the Demo­crat­ic Party.

“I will sup­port Judge Moore in the fu­ture to­ward im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life for our fel­low Phil­adelphi­ans and great­er Phil­adelphia area,” Brady said.

The Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate is Cen­ter City Re­altor John Feather­man, who ran for may­or last year.

••

Nath­an Klein­man, who filed to chal­lenge U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13th dist.) in the primary, with­drew his nom­in­at­ing pe­ti­tions and has de­cided to run a write-in cam­paign on April 24.

Schwartz sup­port­ers had chal­lenged his pe­ti­tions, and he didn’t want to be tied up in court and face the pos­sib­il­ity of pay­ing the op­pos­i­tion’s leg­al fees.

Klein­man is a mem­ber of the “Oc­cupy” move­ment. He worked as an aide to then-state Rep. Josh Sha­piro and was on the cam­paign team for Barack Obama and Joe Ses­tak in the 2010 U.S. Sen­ate race.

The Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ate is air­line pi­lot Joseph Rooney.

End­Frag­ment

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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