State Sen. Tina Tartaglione hasn’t had a tough campaign since her first victory in 1994, but she is gearing up for a possible challenge in 2014.
Earlier this month, Tartaglione (D-2nd dist.), who serves as secretary of the Democratic caucus and minority party chairwoman of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, hosted a meeting of her finance committee at the Capital Grille in Center City.
Among those in attendance were Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa of Allegheny County; Sen. Vincent Hughes, minority party chairman of the Appropriations Committee; and union leaders John Meyerson of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 and John Kane of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 690.
“Sen. Tina Tartaglione is an important part of our leadership team,” Costa said. “We are asking everyone in this room to join Sen. Hughes and me in renewing their commitment to raising the funds necessary to fend off any potential opponent to Tina next year.”
One potential primary opponent is former City Councilman Dan Savage, a Northwood resident and Democratic leader of the 23rd Ward.
“I’m seriously thinking about running against her,” he said. “She’s not responsive to the community. I think we can do better. Her time has come.”
Tartaglione, the daughter of former city elections commissioner Marge Tartaglione, narrowly defeated Republican Sen. Bruce Marks in 1994. She has sailed to re-election ever since.
In all that time, Tartaglione has served in the minority party. At present, Republicans control the Senate by a 27-23 margin.
To take control after the 2014 election, Democrats need to keep Tartaglione’s seat.
“The Senate Democrats are on the cusp of taking the majority in the state Senate,” Hughes said. “The way that we get to the majority is by making sure that every one of our sitting members comes back after the election. And today, that begins with making sure that we are all there for Sen. Tartaglione.”
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has still not approved new maps for the 2014 legislative elections. No matter how they look, Tartaglione should be safe from a Republican challenge.
However, Savage believes there are several factors that could help him defeat the incumbent.
Several politically active labor unions have not indicated support for Tartaglione, he said, and he hopes to win their backing, both for the money they can bring a campaign and the election-day workers they can put on the street.
Tartaglione also voted for Costa in November 2010 when some Philadelphia Democrats would have liked to see one of their own become minority leader.
In addition, Savage thinks the political fortunes of the Tartaglione family are on the wane. Marge Tartaglione lost her seat in 2011 after 36 years on the job. She angered some ward leaders and union bosses that year by endorsing Marty Bednarek over Bobby Henon in the 6th Councilmanic District Democratic primary.
Savage won a November 2006 special election for the vacant 7th Councilmanic District seat. He lost the following year in the Democratic primary to Maria Quinones Sanchez, who went on to win the seat in the general election. He also lost a primary challenge to Sanchez in 2011. ••
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org