PA-1: Bad Blood, Machine Politics & Race

(a recurring series, for all click here)

Our first congressional district is one of the two composing inner-city Philadelphia. The district is one thin sliver along the border to New Jersey and Delaware. Not surprisingly, being in the middle of one of the strongest Democratic machines nationally, the district is heavily blue. The district has not elected a Republican since James Gallagher in 1946. Machine politics have always defined this district and the surrounding city, sending Republicans to Congress consistently for over 82 years in times past, and now is likewise dominated by Democrats to the same degree it was once controlled by liberal Republicans. Politics here is personal, where ward leaders and city council members compete to bring the largest share of the burdened city’s resources to fix their constituents needs. This is often done with a wink and a nod, and politicians such as Ozzie Myers have consistently won elections based on their ability to do this. This district is also one of the two minority districts in the state.

The current emblem of machine politics here is Congressman Bob Brady, around since1997, and you couldn’t find a better example of a machine politician than him in Congress. In a city swimming with corruption, with names like Vince Fumo, former City Councilman Marino, Mayor Street and his brother, among others, Brady is the chairman of the city party, and his run for Mayor last year showed him using the same tactics and attitude we see on a regular basis. But this same mayoral election has showed the first cracks in what was the invincible machine he used to deliver PA to the Democrats in 2004. His personal politics has rubbed many Democrats in the city the wrong way, and his weak showing of third in the primary, not even half of Nutter’s vote, led many in the city to speculate that he would face his first serious primary challenger(Lucian Blackwell almost challenged him in 1997).

They were right. Keith Leaphart, a relative newcomer to elected politics, is challenging Brady for the Dem nomination in 2008. Leaphart is running on the notion that he can “cure” what ails the First District. His site does not mention Brady by name, but it is clear from his opening message that he is running against Brady’s style of politics much the same way the Nutter ran last year. As Brady is one of the few whites representing a plurality black district, and with Brady’s “Dennis Kucinich” style of ethnic politics, Leaphart’s race could swing a lot of votes towards him. It remains to be seen whether Brady’s institutional support will fade or not. If he does retain his support, he will likely win in a walk, corralling all of his precinct chairs into the type of politics that has been successful for two centuries. However, if Leaphart can ride the same wave that led Micheal Nutter to win last year despite little support from ward leaders, Brady may just have a fight on his hands.

District Statistics

2006 Election
Bob Brady- 100%

2004 Election
Bob Brady- 86%
Deborah Williams 13%

Kerry- 84%
Bush- 15%

Michael Barone’s Almanac

December 31, 2007 at 9:19 pm Comments (0)

Keystone Report – Interview with Dr. Mary Zennett, Citizens for Health Reform

Today on The Keystone Report, host Matthew Best interviews Dr. Mary Zennett of Citizens for Health Reform.  Dr. Zennett (Dr. Mary Z) is a Doctor of Medicine and a student of health reform for many years.  As founder of Citizens for Health Reform, she is committed to improving the health status of Americans through education and empowerment.  Dr. Mary Z travels and lectures on health reform across the United States.  You can learn more about her and her cause by visiting During the interview, Dr. Zennett and Mr. Best discussed the state of America’s health care and insurance situation, what can be done about the crisis, and what role each individual plays in fixing the problems.  Dr. Zennett also discussed the role of preventative medicine in health care.

To listen to this podcast click here.

December 31, 2007 at 3:43 pm Comments (0)

Letters to the Editor

Stan Huskey, editor of the Times-Herald, writes a letter to himself.

Republican voters in Montgomery County voted for two Republicans to lead the county.

What did we get?

A Republican and a Democrat to lead the county.

And what was the first thing they announced they were going to do? Make the county government bigger by creating new positions.

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the whole concept.

Now, I’ve been writing about this on Stan’s Blog, and at least one person came up with a constructive idea rather than just telling me that I shouldn’t be surprised about the turn of events because all politicians are crooks anyway. Someone posted that I should run for a Republican committee seat. I’m not sure I would ever want to do that, but at least the idea moves the conversation forward.

The Montgomery County Republican Party has become repulsive.

The only way to fix it is by getting rid of the top brass. Look, when you get a bad meal in a restaurant, you don’t blame the waiter, do you?

There’s more, read it all.

December 31, 2007 at 11:07 am Comments (0)

Specter Syria Trip #17

Senator Specter is off on his seventeenth trip to meet with Syrian leaders since he was elected Senator in 1980.

Bryan @ Hot Air asks a relevant question.

One of the questions Americans are trying to answer for ourselves is which of the presidential candidates we’d prefer to represent us at the table when we have to deal with the world’s worst regimes and figures. I haven’t answered that question in my own mind in the affirmative, but I can sure answer it in the negative: Whoever represents us when dealing with rogue regimes ought not be Arlen Specter and Patrick Kennedy.

I’m still wondering what we have to show for his diplomacy.

17 trips should have achieved something.

December 31, 2007 at 10:49 am Comments (0)

Re: Padding Their Independence

Right Wing Chicky took exception to my characterization of Congressman Patrick Murphy as “an honest liberal.

She writes…

Patrick Murphy is anything but an honest liberal. Here’s the text of his statement [after the jump -ed] on the RESTORE Act. Murphy’s words were stricken from the record because he basically called the Republicans and the President liars. He’s nothing but San Fran Nan’s puppet. Remember when she said Republican’s “liked” the war. Don’t forget the Murphy never denounced Move On’s ad against General Petraeus. There’s no honesty there, pure partisan puppetry, easy to recognize by the favored “right wing attack machine” boogey man phrase

I stand corrected. Patrick Murphy is a dishonest liberal.


December 30, 2007 at 11:42 pm Comments (0)

The Matthews-Hoeffel Spin or "Yeah, That's the Ticket"

PoliticsPa’s Up & Down:

It was a tedious week for the two incoming Republican commissioners in Montgomery County. Jim Matthews made a deal with Joe Hoeffel and then seemed to back away from the initial reasoning behind it. Castorites everywhere cried foul.

By my count, there are four versions of the Matthews reasoning (directly from him), with a fifth one making an appearance over the weekend.

Jim Matthews betrayed Montgomery County Republicans because… (in chronological order)

1) Castor would not support Matthews for chairman
2) Castor would support him for Chair, but not support Barry Miller for Solicitor.
3) Neither Chair nor Miller, and that was a signal Castor would neuter his authority.
4) Definitely 1 above.

The latest idea, which was trotted out this weekend in a “Capitolman” comment on GrassrootsPa:

Apparently Joe Hoeffel has told others that Bruce Castor approached him about a deal for electing Bruce chairman. No specifics were discussed in their meeting because Hoeffel says he dismissed it right away telling Castor he couldn’t be trusted.

This story has been overlooked by the media (if nothing else, to refute it) and by the commentors on this site. Castor needs to denouce this story if it is not true (unless it is).

No need for denunciation, as Matthews and Hoeffel would have used this as excuse number zero, above.

It would have been a great bomb to drop two weeks ago when the deal was announced. Hoeffel’s crew could have nodded softly and set up Castor as the goat.

That being said, no mention was ever made by the Matthews-Hoeffel team regarding a potential Castor-Hoeffel deal.

It. Did. Not. Happen.

In any case, if this were true, why would Castor pen a reply to a Times-Herald columnist entitled, This Republican Will Never Turn from Red to Blue on December 10th… a story which Matthews claims convinced him that Castor was looking for a deal.

It is well known that Matthews met Hoeffel at the Huntingdon Valley Country Club at least two weeks before that column’s publication. If that’s true, he’s cutting deals based on some sort of eerie precognition.

Precognition which failed him on every other occasion it would have been of utility.

I thought the graphic below was premature when I made it last week (after only two reasons)… now it’s looking pretty sweet.

Speaking of talking (or rather not talking)…. it’s been two weeks since the news of the deal has been announced… where are Ken Davis, chairman of the Montco GOP and National Committeman Bob Asher?

Have they washed their hands of Matthews? Why not say so?

Are they somehow involved and laying low?

December 30, 2007 at 10:30 pm Comments (2)

Biggest Winners of 2007

Biggest Winners of 2007

It’s that time of year again when Freindly Fire heaps praise upon those most deserving. You probably aren’t going to find these winners on the lists of the mainstream media, though, since all of them either smash political correctness—or survive because of it.

The Biggest Winner of 2007 goes to none other than Illegal Immigrants, all twenty million of them. Year after year, they continue to win everything. They are handed driver’s licenses, free education—in some cases all the way to college, and receive free first-rate health care. Most appallingly, their freedom exists because of our government’s non-existent efforts to deport them. Their presence has forced the closure of hospitals, taken jobs from American workers, depressed wages, and caused taxes to sharply increase. And let’s not forget that many illegals are voting in our elections. How’s that for irony—foreigners deciding American elections. And every time the illegals win, there is an even bigger loser. Us.

Joey Vento: Vento, owner of world renowned Geno’s Steaks in South Philadelphia, has enjoyed immense success as a self-made businessman (he started with six dollars and a prayer), and he relishes his role as an “ambassador” for Philadelphia. His generosity is legendary, from funding scholarships for the children of murder victims, to creating the Police and Fireman Path of Honor, to feeding six thousand Navy sailors on his own dime. And what is his reward from our City? A court date, because the geniuses at City Hall think that having a bumper sticker in your store window that reads, “This is America. When Ordering, Please Speak English” is discriminatory, even though not one patron has ever been turned away. Vento will win, of course, because he has the guts and stamina to fight. His hard-line positions on stopping the invasion of illegal immigrants and making English the official language of American have made him a folk hero all over the world.

Joey Vento knows only one language, English, and one nationality, American. We all know that City Hall is a roll short of a cheesesteak, so on behalf of all common sense Americans, Freindly Fire applauds Joey for his courageous fight—and for frying political correctness to a crisp.

Georges Perrier: Philadelphia’s other bookend restaurateur, Perrier is one of the founding fathers of Philadelphia’s business and cultural revival. His numerous restaurants draw lavish praise, including Le Bec Fin being named the best restaurant in country. In typical Philadelphia fashion, Perrier’s success was met with a City Council proposal to ban foie gras (duck liver), one of Perrier’s signature servings. Not one to roll over, Perrier lashed out, stating that “…the school system is in shambles. The violence…and murders in Philadelphia are the highest of any city in the United States. The city is filthy and dirty. There are homeless and beggars everywhere. Parking is a huge problem. What are the City Council members thinking who want to pass a ban on foie gras? For everything we (the business community) pay in taxes, what do we get for it? Absolutely nothing. And now they want to pass a law banning foie gras? Don’t they have anything better to do? Do your job!”

Thanks for having the “guts” to say it like it is, Chef!

Congressman Ron Paul: The more the mainstream media and the Republican establishment label this Presidential candidate a “kook” and “lunatic”, the more successful he becomes. While corporate fat cats shell out the big bucks to the candidates who will do their bidding, Paul has bested them all, defying every pundit and critic in the country. He has smashed one fundraising record after another and has raised a whopping $19 million dollars in the fourth quarter alone—from a staggering 130,000 donors. His message of personal responsibility, humble foreign policy (on which President Bush originally campaigned) and sound financial management has returned hope to millions who would otherwise stay home. Because of Paul, the Republican nomination will not be a cakewalk, which is exactly the kind of shakeup the Party needs to regain its direction.

Senator Larry Craig: It doesn’t matter whether you like him or not, or whether you think he was set-up or guilty. The reason Craig makes the Winners List is simple. By standing firm, he powerfully delivered a grade school civics lesson to all of the “leaders” in the Republican party who self-righteously demanded his resignation: this is still a government by the people.

There are only two entities that have the power to decide whether an elected official should be removed from office, and neither are the leadership of a political party. That decision is solely up to the people, and the representative himself. Period. When did the people of Idaho relinquish the power to choose their own Senator and give it to Republican leader Mitch McConnell? End of discussion.

Iowa and New Hampshire: Relatively small and insignificant, these two states win every four years. It’s too bad that not one presidential candidate says it like it is: New Hampshire and Iowa have far, far too much power. Why do we permit these states to largely dictate the choice of our next President? That won’t change, however, until leaders are willing to buck the system so that the rest of America gains the voice it deserves.

John Edwards: Just because he is making Hillary sweat—and because, ultimately, he will be the Democratic nominee.

Chris Freind can be reached at

December 30, 2007 at 10:17 pm Comments (0)

2008 Congressional District Profiles: Prelude

In the new year, I will write a profile every week on the congressional races as they are shaping up in Pennsylvania. I will analyze each race in depth, looking at announced and potential candidate, and including historical data and trends. I’ll do every district in the state, including the PA-1(Brady) and PA-2(Fattah), whether Republicans have a chance of winning them or not. I hope to do about one a week before the primaries in late April. Most serious candidates have already announced, and only PA-8 and PA-11(come on, Lou!) may have developments. If necessary, I’ll post updates.

Looking at the map right now, PA-1 may have a serious primary, PA-4(Altmire) and PA-10(Carney) look like the best opportunities for GOP pickups, and PA-3(English) and PA-6(Gerlach) look like the best opportunities for Dem pickups, although the DCCC has not been nearly as successful in PA this time, mostly because of their large wins here in 2006. PA-11(Kanjorski), PA-13(Schwartz), PA-15(Dent), PA-8(Murphy), PA-17(Murphy), and PA-7 (Sestak) could all become competitive, depending on national conditions and challengers(PA-11 and PA-8 are most likely of these). Pennsylvania accounted for over a tenth of the Democrats national House seat gain in 2006, and if the GOP recaptures control, at least three victories will likely be in PA.

I should have PA-1 done by the end of this week.

December 30, 2007 at 9:08 pm Comments (0)

Post-Gazette Dream Candidates

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has denounced presidential candidates Clinton, Obama, Edwards, McCain, Giuliani, and Romney. Who would they like to see on the ballot?

For the Democrats, the P-G likes Al Gore. For the Republicans, Michael Bloomberg.

Yes, of course. Why not have a liberal on both sides of the ballot? That’s liberal “choice” for you. That’s liberal “diversity”. That would be like me saying with a straight face the Republican candidate should be Rick Santorum and the Democrat candidate should be Zell Miller. And Bill O’Reilly could run as an Independent.

It’s also ironic that the John Kerry endorsin’ P-G complains that Romney has changed his positions on numerous issues, and that’s what makes him an unacceptable candidate. Nevermind that Romney usually has a good explanation for why he’s changed his mind on individual issues, unlike John “Flip-Flop” Kerry.

But worry not, mindless Democrat voters of Allegheny County – I am 100% certain that the P-G will mindlessly endorse whichever Democrat candidate makes it through the primaries. Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Kucinich… it doesn’t matter. The P-G will endorse him/her/it for president.

And you mindless Democrat voters know who you are. Ever go into the voting booth and pull the Democrat lever, not knowing or caring exactly who you were voting for? Yep.

December 30, 2007 at 1:46 am Comments (0)

One Vote for a Judicial Dictatorship

Q: Who said these words?

“Gee, a benevolent dictator would really be good right about now to, to put in health care and to put in some of these policies that we all want, but somehow the gridlock within the legislature makes it impossible.”

A: Her Honor, Marjorie Rendell. Wife of Ed Rendell

There’s more info here.

The truly frightening thing is that she said this without a hint of irony! She means it! And I have to imagine Ed does too. God help us all.

December 29, 2007 at 5:16 pm Comments (0)

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