Tuesday was a big day for Democrats, in Philadelphia and around the Delaware Valley.
In Chester, Delaware and Bucks counties they took control of county governments.
The most historic — and worst — win was in Philadelphia where Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks won an At-Large Council seat, traditionally held by a Republican. This was the first win by a non-majority candidate… ever.
Republican incumbent Al Taubenberger lost his Council seat, while Republican David Oh, who finished a poor fifth in the Republican primary, survived as the only GOP At-Large candidate. Brian O’Neill held off a challenge from Judy Moore to keep his seat as a District Councilman from the Northeast. That was about the only good news for Republicans.
Jim Kenney mopped the floor with Republican lawyer Billy Ciancaglini in a low turnout election in which about 26% of registered voters bothered to vote. For his part, Mayor Kenney didn’t bother to campaign and cowardly refused to debate Ciancaglini, who couldn’t figure how to call the mayor out. If it’s any consolation, Ciancaglini lost 4-1 while Dems outnumber Republicans 7-1 in Philadelphia.
Kenney’s victory speech was typically brief and devoid of emotion, promising a “city of equity.”
So why the blue wave?
Without doubt, many Democrats were energized by Donald Trump. Since they couldn’t get at him, they took it out on every Republican they could find. Local Dems can thank him for their suburban sweep.
In the spring primary, a flock of progressives lined up to run for City Council, and almost all failed. I thought they may have been too extreme, but it may be they had little name recognition and knocked each other out.
It is distressing for me to contemplate, but it seems like the city’s slide to the left is continuing.
Leading the At-Large pack was shrewish Helen Gym, our answer to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Breaking party rules, Gym endorsed Brooks and she (and other party members) could be punished for breaking ranks and breaking rules. But since Democrats love breaking Democratic Party rules, and since Gym won more votes than any other Council candidate, party boss Bob Brady probably won’t do anything more than give her a good talking to. As she yawns in his face.
Kendra Brooks emerges as this election’s “it” girl, and will be a voice from the farther left, meaning more taxes, less personal responsibility and far less fiscal responsibility.
Philadelphia already has the rep of being unfriendly to business. I expect it to get worse. But I tip my hat to Brooks for an historic win.
Philadelphians bear the second-greatest tax burden in the nation, following Bridgeport, CT. I expect that to get worse, too. The one-quarter of the population at the poverty level do not pay taxes and will cheerlead any increase in taxes on the well-off.
The well-off will pay the extra for the “privilege” of living in Philadelphia until they get sick of it, then will move to the suburbs. Philadelphia is balancing now between growth and failure. It doesn’t take much to push the city the wrong way. Higher taxes, crappy schools, the lack of good-paying jobs and a rising murder rate are things that can push us underwater.
Having a government dominated by one party is not healthy. Everyone knows that. Part of the problem lies with the Republican Party, for not producing better candidates and raising cash to support them. The party did not even field candidates for a number of offices, including sheriff and register of wills.
If it can’t learn to smell the coffee, it will be overtaken by the Working Families Party and before you know it, Philadelphia will become Oakland.
You may think that’s a good idea.