Now that Allyson Schwartz is officially in the governor’s race, Democrats are positioning themselves for her congressional seat.
State Rep. Brendan Boyle scored a big endorsement on Tuesday from U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee.
Brady planned to back former City Controller Jonathan Saidel, but he decided not to run.
“I’m one-hundred percent behind Boyle,” Brady said. “We need smart, hard-working guys like him down in Washington. I look forward to campaigning with him and working together with him in Congress.”
Boyle could have a big advantage if he is the only Philadelphian in a race that includes several candidates from Montgomery County.
Already, he has the backing of unions representing electricians, sprinkler fitters, plumbers, steamfitters, ironworkers, operating engineers, transit workers and police officers.
“Boyle is smart, hard-working, and he fights for working people. We are supporting him, and every union leader I talk to is supporting him,” said Wayne Miller, business manager of Sprinkler Fitters Local 692.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Daylin Leach has hired a senior adviser, fundraising and media consultants, a pollster and a campaign counsel, Somerton native and George Washington High School graduate Adam Bonin.
Other likely candidates are former congresswoman Marjorie Margolies and Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, a health-care reform advocate. Possible contenders include state Rep. Mark Cohen and Montgomery County Prothonotary Mark Levy.
The race will be costly. Boyle expects the primary winner will have to spend $1.2 million to $1.5 million, and he is glad to have experienced national fundraisers Brian Smoot and Nicole D’Ercole on his side.
The Democratic City Committee last week endorsed District Attorney Seth Williams and City Controller Alan Butkovitz for the May 21 primary election. Williams is running unopposed in the primary. Butkovitz faces Brett Mandel and Mark Zecca. A very small turnout is expected in the primary.
There are six openings on Common Pleas Court. In the 24-candidate field, Democrats endorsed Dan McCaffery, Dawn Tancredi, Timika Lane, Giovanni Campbell, Leon King and Daine Grey. McCaffery, of East Torresdale, and Tancredi are representing opponents of two planned methadone clinics in Holmesburg.
A dozen people are running for three spots on Municipal Court. The endorsed candidates are appointed Judge Fran Shields, of Lawndale, Martin Coleman and Henry Lewandowski.
Twenty-five individuals are seeking three seats on Traffic Court. The endorsed candidates are Fox Chase resident Donna DeRose, Marnie Aument-Loughrey and Omar Sabir.
The state legislature is considering a bill to transfer responsibilities for the scandal-plagued Traffic Court to Municipal Court, so the future makeup of Traffic Court is unknown.
The Democratic City Committee looks at other factors besides qualifications when making endorsements. Ward leaders try to have an equal number of whites and blacks. Lawyers who have done pro bono work for the party are looked upon favorably as are those with close ties to ward leaders or influential union bosses. Democrats generally do not endorse Republicans for judicial races, where candidates are permitted to file to run on both tickets.
Thus, appointed Common Pleas Court Judge Ken Powell, a Republican, does not have Democratic Party backing.
Often, a good ballot position trumps a Democratic Party endorsement. So, Far Northeast Republican Anne Marie Coyle, who is listed No. 1 on the Democratic ballot for Common Please Court, probably has a good chance to win.
Some ward leaders push the entire endorsed ticket on Election Day. Unendorsed candidates, though, can use much of their campaign treasury to persuade other ward leaders to carry their names on sample ballots.
Previously, city Democrats endorsed Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Joe Waters for Superior Court. Waters also has state party backing, but faces a tough primary challenge from Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Jack McVay.
The Philadelphia Bar Association has released its first batch of ratings of judicial candidates for seats on Common Pleas and Municipal Courts.
Kathleen D. Wilkinson, chancellor of the local bar association, described the ratings as thorough, nonpartisan and objective.
The group’s Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention conducted the evaluation process.
The commission includes community leaders, the city solicitor, the chief public defender, representatives of minority legal groups and the president judges of Common Pleas and Municipal Court.
Candidates were evaluated on legal ability, experience, integrity, temperament, community involvement and judgment.
The following candidates were found “Recommended”: Fran Shields, Daniel D. McCaffery, Kenneth J. Powell Jr., Chris Mallios, Giovanni Campbell, James C. Crumlish, Daine A. Grey Jr., Stephanie M. Sawyer, Katie Scrivner and Martin Coleman.
The following candidates were found “Not Recommended”: Deborah D. Cianfrani, Conor Corcoran, Rania Major, Jon Marshall, Sierra Thomas Street, Shoshana Bricklin, Dawn M. Tancredi and Frank Bennett.
Monday is the deadline to register to vote in the May 21 primary.
Individuals already registered can also change their party affiliations by that date.
Registration forms are available at the Committee of Seventy’s website, seventy.org ••