David Oh plots a course to victory

There is a path to victory, Republican mayoral candidate David Oh was explaining to about 100 supporters at a fund-raiser Tuesday night in the stately Lincolncentric Union League on Broad Street.

David Oh (left) joined by supporters Marina Kats, Tom Caramanico, Matt Wolfe

The road will be as long and tortured — my words, not his — as the Ledo Road supplying China through India during World War II. (A little-known engineering feat of WWII, the 1,000-mile road, through thick, disease-plagued jungle, was built by 15,000 U.S. soldiers, the majority of whom were African-American, at a cost of 1,100 lives.)

Oh’s path will not be that bad.

Winning is a factor of numerology, he explained to his supporters.

Generally speaking, he said, about 300,000 Philadelphians vote for mayor (out of 1,025,354 registered voters — 775,664 Democratic; 114,673 Republican; 135,017 other).

Oh is pinning part of his hopes on 50,000 Democrats he said are not for Cherelle Parker, the Democratic nominee. He already has a “Democrats for Oh” group working for him and is counting on making a run at the 135,017 people registered as independents. 

Also in his game plan are those people wanting change, one of his two primary attack points. The other talking point being his pledge to go after violent crime, partly by hiring 1,300 new police officers, giving them the best training and the full support of the mayor.

As a veteran himself, he is counting on support from those who have worn the uniform, and also from a variety of ethnic groups he has cultivated during his three terms on City Council. He is the first Korean-American to be nominated for Philadelphia mayor.

He also has to activate what he calls the Tier 2 Republicans, those who vote for president, governor and senator, but not for mayor. (Not to mention the Tier 3 — those who don’t vote.)

The numbers say that even if every registered Republican voted for him, that would be 114,673, and that would not be enough. Jim Kenney won his second term with 234,749 votes, and his first term, in 2015, with 203,730 votes.

It will not be easy, and hard work and name recognition alone won’t do it. Oh told the Union League crowd he needs money, and a lot of it.

Recent GOP mayoral candidates have been seriously underfunded — largely because they were seen as unwinnable — but that may be changing this year, as reported by the Inquirer’s Chris Brennan. 

Still, while the 7-1 registration edge is formidable, it is not as steep as it may seem. In 2019, with almost no funds and not much of a campaign, Billy Ciancaglini won almost 20% of the vote, overcoming the 7-1 odds. Much of his support came from voters fed up with Jim Kenney. Oh is hoping some of that “enough already” will attach to Democrat Parker.

You have to go back to 2003 to find a Republican who broke 40%, and that was Sam Katz running against the frosty John Street.

Is it wishful thinking on Oh’s part? What are his chances, I asked Rob Gleason, former state chair of the GOP.

“50/50,” he said.

I gave him a quizzical look.

“There are two names on the ballot, each has an equal shot,” he said, baiting me.

“But —” I started to say, ready to bring up past results of Philly elections.

“Equal until they start counting the votes,” said Gleason with a smile, springing the trap. But he does think Oh can contend, and came in from Johnstown to offer his support. He called Parker “the invisible candidate” who planned to hide, as Joe Biden did in 2020. If she does, that will help Oh.

Although Oh never openly admitted it, he was hoping Helen Gym would get the nomination, because she was anathema to moderate Democrats. Their disdain for her was proven by her third place finish, behind Parker and Rebecca Rhynhart.

Here’s a little secret: There is a “lost” Stu Bykofsky column. 

I wrote it the night before the mayoral primary, expecting and fearing a catastrophic Gym victory.

I will publish that tomorrow, but only on my blog, Stubykofsky.com

15 thoughts on “David Oh plots a course to victory”

  1. He doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell in Philly. His opponent in the race is already making deals with the Outgoing occupier of the office to keep certain people and have certain other people terminated from their positions. I hope that I’m wrong but it is Philadelphia.

  2. I have always called election day in Philadelphia “Night of the living dead,” when the voting zombies march in lockstep to the polls and elect the same bozos that are ruining the city.

  3. When was the last Republican mayor of Philadelphia? It was Mayor Barney Samuel in 1952. Maybe they’re simply due?

  4. Maybe a tour of Philly under Kenney is needed, it has slid so far down, I’m surprised that Camden hasn’t condemed it yet as being an eyesore. Maybe it is time for a change. Even Diapers get changed when they are dirty. Brother, this place is dirty!

  5. For David Oh to have a chance at winning the Mayor’s race, he should make Larry Krasner and the increased violent crime Cherelle Parker’s running mate. Oh should should have a short term plan to reduce violent crime. Identify Larry Krasner’s bail policies related to illegal gun possession cases. Criminals are being released on signatures or low bail. He should identify the Ferguson effect on our local police. We can call it locally the Krasner effect on policing in Philadelphia.

    Oh needs to call out the reckless, hazardous and fatal results of illegal street drag racing, illegal dirt bikes and ATV’s that are mostly unregistered vehicles that are terrorizing our streets.

    Oh needs to call out the continuous generational teen-age pregnancy issues that lead to young girls being stuck in poverty. He should compare and contrast the difference between the success of girls who did not get pregnant to those who got pregnant.

    Oh needs to call out the School District of Philadelphia. He should demand cameras in every classroom. Let’s identify the students disrupting each class and whose classroom actions interfere with learning. Let’s give the parents access to the cameras so they can view their children’s behavior in class. Oh should demand accountability from the school board. The Charter Schools and Archdiocesan Schools are immensely more successful in educating students.

    David Oh also needs to address the Philadelphia Prison System problems. He should void all civil service rules regarding the hiring of prison guards. He should recruit future guards from the Military Services, other prison systems, retired prison guards. He should bring in new leadership for a dangerous failing prison system.

    Oh should follow the lead of the working people’s party. He should have his committee people going door to door and hand out information on the mail-in voting process. The committee people need to work hard if David Oh is to have a chance at winning.

    I am hoping for a safer future for all Philadelphia.

    1. David Oh has held office in Philadelphia for 20 years. IF he could help….we’d be better off, not worse than when he entered the arena.

  6. Although I agree with you in principal, I have a few questions. Where would the money come from? Why would former military want to work in our prison system? Most of the School Board would take four years to even vote to have a meeting. My thought, is to fire everybody and start from scratch. EVERYBODY! This is a sinking ship with a sinking ship sitting on top of it, We have a Democratic State Government, no help there, who knows about a presidential election. Very iffy, but hopeful. but still iffy. We need to Start a New Philadelphia, I don;t know how, but we do need to.

    1. The money for cameras can come from Grants through the Federal & State Departments of Education. There are also foundations and universities in our area who might contribute funds to help in this educational endeavor and make the program a success. Two or three schools should be the testing ground for cameras in the classrooms. The universal Connectivity fee on everyone’s phone & cable bill will pay for most of costs for the parents. Every DHS office in State of PA has a salesman or saleswomen who sign up and give out free cell phones to clients who are eligible to receive benefits.

      As to who in Military might want a job as a prison guard? I say the city has a lot to offer, defined pension benefits, quality health plans for employees and the Drop Program upon retirement. These are quality benefits that can attract quality employees. Additionally, money could be saved by melding the prison guards with the Sheriff’s office. A rotational plan of assignments could improve the work atmosphere for employees. Additional cuts in the bureaucracy could yield some savings. My hope is the ship does not sink.

      1. Taking a job as a Police Officer rather than a CO is a much better position in this city. We can’t even recruit them from the military. The Sheriff’s department merging with Prisons, that will never happen, they have been trying to merge them with Police, which I doubt will ever happen. Prison Guard is a unique job babysitting the dreggs of the city,that most try to move up OUT of. Either to the Sheriffs dept. or Police. Camera’s are a good idea in schools, but Police are better. It’s not a new concept, most High, and some middle schools have had them since the 80’s. Your ideas are good. They just need to be consistant with whatever administration is in place. School Police needs to be built into a full seperate entity. Unfortuately every administration for decades, seems to deal with problems until they are way out of hand. I hope that ship does not sink too,Mr.Martin.

  7. People who want David Oh and want real change need to stop the defeatist talk of past results. The fact is that David Oh is the first serious candidate the R’s have had since Sam Katz. The last 4 elections they just had token nominees there to concede the election. Oh has built such a great relationship with each community through his service, policies pushed in Council and constant presence. There is a silent majority which loves him and that scares the current people in power and so they are pushing the defeatist narrative through the media against Oh.

    IGNORE THE media BS. Just come out and vote for Oh and tell everyone to enthusiastically and he will win.

  8. It’s obvious David Oh is fighting an uphill battle. One of the most important things is that his ongoing fundraising efforts continue to be effective. He needs the financial support of many who normally sit on the sidelines, usually not funding any candidate because the election results are thought to be pre-ordained. Better funding means more media exposure in the critical closing weeks of the campaign. Undecided voters need to become familiar with David Oh and his plans to upend the status quo and be an agent of change. He is reaching out to veterans and many ethnic groups that did not have a reason to be energized in prior mayoral elections. But, as many have pointed out, that is enough; he needs a significant proportion of independent and democratic voters. He is working hard to win them over, and may just pull this off.

  9. Whenever it seems that an election is all about turnout, I always wonder about the idea of compulsory voting. It would treat voting like jury duty–a civic obligation, as opposed to a right. I am totally on the fence about this, by the way.

    On the one hand, apparently even a modest fine of $20, as they have in Australia, raised turnout of eligible voters from a low 48% to 92%–an unheard of level in American elections. One claimed effect of compulsory voting is that it avoids the problem of the extreme/activist candidates winning low-turnout elections because their supporters are more motivated, and makes moderate candidates better positioned to win. Candidates/policies don’t need to be inspiring–merely sensible. It makes campaigns cheaper by not requiring big spending on get-out-the-vote efforts, and allowing more resources for messaging. Supposedly it also increases public engagement, because knowing that you have to vote means you will pay some attention to what the choices are. For history buffs, way back when, after the Revolution, but before the US Constitution was adopted, the State of Georgia’s constitution had compulsory voting, but it was repealed in 1789.

    Some other places that used to have it, also repealed it. The Netherlands got rid of it, and the Swiss, who had it a lot of it on a local basis, dumped it in all but one canton. Folks argue that it is too hard on poor people, or that it is a good thing that the ignorant or indifferent don’t vote, or that it is just wrong. In this country, it may be unconstitutional as “compelled speech.” A 2020 poll says most Americans don’t want compulsory voting, although the Australians like it to the tune of 70% +. Here, apparently, the people who don’t vote don’t want to be forced to, and people who do vote are just fine with having an outsize impact on government.

    Still, you gotta wonder what elections would be like if virtually everybody voted.

  10. There’s one chance for Philadelphia, one chance! That chance is David Oh! All you have to do is look at Philadelphia, and know that you must vote other than what is in office right now! Vote OH you have no other choice, no other choice! If you think the other candidate is a choice, you are mistaken! She will destroy Philadelphia just like Chicago was destroyed! No more destruction! Save this City! Vote OH!

  11. I agree, now you need to get out the vote! Apathy is the worst enemy of this City.

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