Democrat for State Representative
Working Together to Build Strong Communities
Some Preliminary Thoughts about this Campaign.
The race we wound up running was not the race we originally set out to run. In January we expected to be in a four or five person race, which I thought I could win with thirty-five to thirty-eight percent of the vote. I planned on winning a large majority in the parts of the district that knew me best. And I believed I could expand that base by selectively reaching out to other areas of the district. Considering we got about forty-two percent of the vote, that was certainly a reasonable plan.
If someone had told me in January that I had a good chance to win what was almost a two person race, I would have said they were crazy. But, once Rosita Youngblood's attorneys got through with all the candidates, that was the race we had to run. It was a much harder, and more expensive, race than we planned to run. We had to put a much larger operation into the field. And we had to send our mailings more broadly than we had planned.
Nevertheless, we came close. A change in a bit over 300 votes would have brought us a victory. And I believe that the biggest barrier to winning those 300 votes was the lack of time to campaign everywhere. I have not had a chance to analyze the returns in detail, but a cursory look shows I did very well in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill.
However, it took a lot of effort to win 75% of the vote in these areas. Despite all the work I had done here, most people did not know who I was. I had to raise my name recognition and remind people of the role I had played in the R8 and other issues.
did quite well in the parts of Germantown and
There were also some barriers that were tough to overcome. Our effort was weakest in the 12th ward because we expected that Latrice Bryant and Supreme Dow would be strong there. It hurt us when Dow was knocked off the ballot. And then I was very disappointed that Supreme Dow and his associates did not endorse me. Throughout the campaign Supreme agreed with me when I said, in public and private, that the most important thing to do in the campaign was get a new State Representative. We agreed that this was more important than either one of us being elected. When it counted, however, Supreme Dow let this district, and his own constituents down. You will have to ask him why.
It also did not help that the leader of the 12th ward, Greg Paulmier, worked against me even though he told me in private I would be the best person for the job.
Then there was the larger party establishment that undermined our efforts in various ways. It is only because she had the party behind her that Rosita Youngblood was able to throw a team of lawyers against the other candidates in the race and to interfere with my candidacy by raising utterly spurious objections against my petitions. This continued up to Election Day, when we had to waste time in court defending the ballots we were handing because the party claimed that they were too similar to the official ballot. What is worse, in one ward, the party threatened committee people who wanted to support me with the loss of their city jobs.
And, finally, I was disappointed that so many public officials told me, behind closed doors, that I was the best candidate for the job. Yet, in public they were silent or gave token support to Representative Youngblood. There are many reasons for this, but at base it comes down to courage, which is in woefully short supply among the political class in this city. In a city where so many of our elected officials have safe seats—our city council people regularly get elected by eighty percent or more and our State legislators usually run unopposed—it is hard to understand why so few are willing to take any risks for good government.
I expected the letter from Governor Rendell in support of Representative Youngblood. Like the actions of so many other politicians in the city, it was the politically smart thing to do. But, again, not doing the politically smart thing would have cost the Governor little or nothing.
I was not naïve about politics in this city going into the race. I knew that running against an incumbent is difficult for all these reasons. But I was just a bit surprised at how little concern most public and party officials had about keeping an incumbent in office when she was not serving either the district or the people of the state well. And that makes me especially grateful for the support I did have locally.
In thinking about a future, I will have to consider whether the additional time I would have in the next few years to make connections throughout the district and to walk the blocks I could not get to this time would enable me to overcome these barriers.