Graduation: closing out my thesis

Here just outside of the Liacouras Center, I stand with Assistant Dean Joseph McLaughlin, who has presided as adviser over this thesis project since last spring.

Today I graduated from Temple University and, unsurprisingly, he was there to congratulate me.

I turned in my thesis for a grade two weeks ago. Still, though I’ve graduated, I will be taking on his revisions before I place the paper here and wipe my hands clean of the project – for now.

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Bill Green: three generations profiled by Philadelphia magazine

This month, Philadelphia magazine has a great long-form piece on three generations of Philadelphia political leaders named Bill Green.

AT AN EVENING meet-the-candidates session for State Senate, Bill Green proves he is his father’s son. The first-term City Councilman has come to the Ethical Society on Rittenhouse Square for a function thrown by the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, and is using the opportunity to pepper one of State Senator Vince Fumo’s aides with questions. “Is Senator Fumo committed to serving four years?” he asks, standing in the crowd.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Fumo’s aide, Ed Hanlon, replies.

“What about the indictment?” Green shoots back.

“I don’t think that’s an appropriate thing to talk about,” responds Hanlon. “We want to talk about the issues.”

Just hours from now, Fumo will withdraw from the race to focus on the 139-count federal indictment he faces. This entire conversation will be rendered moot. What’s memorable about it is the way Bill Green stands up in an open forum and tries to commandeer the floor, the way he turns a pizza-and-beer political event into his own personal grandstand. “Is Senator Fumo committed to serving four years?” he asks again. The crowd seems a little uncomfortable. MORE

There are also mentions to Dave Glancey and other people I’ve interviewed.

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How the Republican Party chooses a candidate to support in Philadelphia

Michael Meehan is a powerful guy in the city’s Republican Party – for whatever that means. But it occurred to me that that isn’t always explained why.

One doesn’t need Meehan’s permission to run, of course. But this state’s elections, like those in much of the country, expect it. The blessing of the Republican committee comes with the promise of making the ballot and much less competition than in the Democratic Party. In the small pond of the Republican Party, Meehan holds influence to divvy available jobs, which keeps some Philadelphians registered with the party. Thus, in deciding that the party will support a particular candidate, ward leaders and committeemen rarely deviate from Meehan’s choices.

One can briefly encapsulate the selection process thusly: the Republican Party selection committee – which Michael Meehan leads – chooses a candidate and the party’s 67 ward leaders ratify that decision. Meehan’s control over the committee and effective sway over most ward leaders makes him as powerful as an unelected Republican can be in this city.

Photo courtesy of History Cooperative.org.

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Registered Republicans in Philadelphia compared to region

When I interviewed Michael Meehan, he mentioned that the latest total he saw put registered Republicans in Philadelphia at more than 147,000. He called that the largest county-wide total in the Commonwealth. Methinks he misspoke, easy to do because, I wouldn’t be surprised, for centuries that was true of Philadelphia.

But the past month there was a flurry of research into regional registrations after it was reported Montgomery County went Democratic, and because it is the state’s most populous, turns out that while Philadelphia’s GOP isn’t the state’s largest, it is among them, and those that beat it are all neighbors.

Using totals collecting by the Committee of Seventy (Seventy-PDF), Philadelphia has 145,439 registered Republicans and 799,381 Democrats.

Bucks County – 181,696 registered Republicans and 185,381 Democrats

Chester County – 147,010 registered Republicans and 113,278 Democrats

Delaware County – 188,834 registered Republicans and 156,608 Democrats

Montgomery County – 240,053 registered Republicans and 240,232 Democrats

Carton courtesy of Christine Berry.

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Fumo candidate beats out Johnny Doc, affecting the Republican

Clearly, I overestimated the influence of Johnny Dougherty and underestimated Vince Fumo-backed Larry Farnese.

In yesterday’s primary, not only did Hillary squeak with a victory, but Farnese beat Dougherty in what, I can admit, was a surprise to me and it seems others, too.

Fumo showed the love he has for Dougherty, as suggested by the story by the Daily News:

Fumo and City Councilman Frank DiCicco, who have feuded with Dougherty for years, led a small crowd of supporters chanting, “Doc is dead, Doc is dead,” at Farnese’s victory celebration at the Paradiso restaurant on Passyunk Avenue.

Dougherty “finally put himself on the line against someone who nobody knew and he got his ass kicked,” Fumo told a reporter. “What else can you ask for?”

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Ed Rendell + Barack Obama = Hillary Clinton

Sen. Barack Obama embraces Philadelphia City Councilman Bob Brady and is applauded by Gov. Ed Rendell before speaking during a Democratic Unity Rally at Temple University's McGonigle Hall October 21, 2006 in Philadelphia. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Tomorrow Pennsylvania may decide whether the Democratic candidate for President will be Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., or former Philadelphia mayor and current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell’s choice, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.

Rendell has said he’ll support whoever the Democratic candidate is, but it is interesting to see how Rendell has supported Clinton, whose husband was a staunch ally of his during his mayoralty from 1992 to nearly 2000. This a Salon article from earlier this month:

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Pennsylvania: a review of racial politics displayed in Rendell and Swann battle of 2006

For those most interested in the seeming hesitance for black voters, particularly, to resist voting for the Republican Party, one of the most interesting thoughts is if a black candidate outside the Democratic Party ran. I was asked one question after my TURF presentation and defense of this thesis project and that was just it.

Do you think a black Republican candidate could sway black voters towards the GOP?

“No,” I said.

I have written on the dilemma of black hesitance to go Republican here before. It is a lot trickier than we often think.

Philadelphia has never seen a black candidate run for a citywide office without the “D” after his name, so I answered the question using the most recent, most local example.

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Interview: Kevin Kelly, Young Philadelphia Republicans

Kevin Kelly at left with for U.S. Congressman Newt Gingrich at a Philadelphia Republican meetup meeting on April 1, 2007.

This evening I sat in on a meeting of the loyal opposition, a group of some in the city’s Republican community who are looking to create a viable GOP in Philadelphia.

The group is led by Kevin Kelly, a former president of the Philadelphia Young Republicans, and a businessman determined to see an active two-party system in the city. He’s developed a meet-up group online and is all for converting Democrats to create competition. Kelly grew a reputation last year by circulating a manifesto of sorts for reviving and reforming the city’s Republican Party [PDF].

After the meeting, a perhaps surprisingly diverse group of 15, including guys like the long-time 5th ward Republican leader Mike Cibik. They were fielding questions from Philadelphia magazine writer Steve Volk and discussing their own positions on the party.

Afterwards, I got to speak to Kevin Kelly alone, and he was largely critical of the complacency into which the city’s GOP had fallen, he said.

“I reward results,” Kelly said. “If you were zero for the last 50 years in any other job in the world, would you still have that job?”

His movement and critique will find a large part in my paper.

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Republican Meet up Group.

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Frank Rizzo 1987 mayoral campaign TV advertisements

With the power of Youtube, it’s interesting to look back at what political advertisements of the past looked like.

It should be no surprise that a stack of TV ads made it online from the failed 1987 Republican campaign of former Democratic Mayor and South Philly folk legend Frank Rizzo. Let’s give them a look.

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John Dougherty to take Vince Fumo's seat; no Republicans to be found

Outgoing State Senator Vince Fumo and his likely replacement John Dougherty, notorious (and occasionally in trouble) business manager for Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, are not known to be friends.

Fumo is retiring Nov. 30 after 30 years of service, due, at least in part, to his looming September trial on 139 different counts of corruption.

But, it seems that Dougherty may take over for the legendary South Philadelphia row-house Machiavelli and Mensa member. Dougherty is expected to win the Democratic primary on April 22, and, what, haven’t you learned yet that Republicans don’t matter in this city?

Talk his had of his two other Democratic rivals, Center City activist Anne Dicker and Main Line lawyer Larry Farnese, but little is made of the Republican challenger, Jack Moreley. Add the First State Senate district to the list of elections in which the primary serves as the election.

He got a nod in a Philadelphia Daily News article on the candidates’ varied views on Philadelphia approving plans for slot-casinos.

Photo edited from one courtesy of Hallwatch.org.

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