When three of the four Democratic candidates for Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional seat were preparing for their imminent debate on April 29, Brendan Boyle and about 50 of his supporters were donning rain gear.
They planned to go door-to-door in Northeast Philly’s 56th Ward rather than participate in a forum organized by someone who had endorsed one of Boyle’s opponents four weeks earlier. Democratic ward leader John Sabatina is backing Marjorie Margolies, a former one-term congresswoman, in the race. According to the Boyle campaign, he is also on Margolies’ campaign payroll.
Northeast Times editor Tom Waring moderated the forum at the Portuguese Club in Rhawnhurst, but Boyle suggested in a printed statement that the format of the debate — allowing the candidates to use notecards and barring audience questions — favored Margolies. Then during a rally for volunteers at an electricians’ union office in Bell’s Corner, Boyle referred to the forum as “a fake debate.”
“We’re not going to show up for something that one of the other campaigns has organized,” said Boyle, a three-term state representative from Somerton. “So we said, instead, let’s send a message about what we’ve been doing ever since July 9, 2013. And that is going out in our community and knocking on every single door.”
Boyle claimed that his workers have visited more than 50,000 homes in the last 10 months. He vowed to canvass every division in the 56th Ward.
“I’m proud of the fact that we’ve done more door-to-door and held more direct voter events than all three of my opponents combined,” he said, before noting that he is the lone Philadelphia resident in the Democratic primary.
In addition to Margolies, state Sen. Daylin Leach and Dr. Val Arkoosh also live in Montgomery County. The 13th district is split almost evenly between Northeast Philly and Eastern Montco.
“This race isn’t about just someone who comes in at campaign time,” Boyle said. “It’s about who’s going to be here the rest of the time working for our community, working for families that really need representation in Washington and just aren’t getting it.”
Boyle’s campaign billed the event as a “workers’ rally” and chose IBEW Local 98 Business Agent Bobby Gormley to introduce the candidate.
“It’s about helping the little people, helping the working-class people. That’s what it’s all about, working-class families, people that need help. And this guy has been there for years,” Gormley said. “At a young age, he’s made a difference in the lives of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people. And he’s going to do that again. He’s moving to the next level.”
In assessing other candidates, Gormley called Leach “a good guy, but he’s a millionaire. He just doesn’t get it. [Boyle] gets what it means to work.”
“Then you have other people in the race: Margolies — are you kidding me?” Gormley said, eliciting a round of snickers from the group. “Really? Somebody has to wake her up to pull her strings.”
Leading up to the May 20 primary, Boyle said he would continue to focus on the same issues he began the race with, particularly the growing disparity between the rich and working-class people. He also plans to participate in a candidates’ forum on May 14 hosted by Upper Moreland Democrats.
“I’ve talked about what a disgrace it is that right now in our country, the gap between the wealthiest one percent and the other 99 percent of us is greater today than at any point in our nation’s history,” he said. “I’ve talked about the fact that it’s downright wrong that the average middle-class family actually has less income today than ten years ago.” ••