Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Is Local 98 running a squeeze play on the 169th District?

The union's former political director, Ed Neilson, is the Democrat on the primary election and special election ballots Tuesday for that seat.

Is Local 98 running a squeeze play on the 169th District?

Ed Neilson
Ed Neilson

Campaign literature circulating in Northeast Philly's 169th District for the state House appears to show a squeeze play being executed by Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for the union's former political director, Ed Neilson, who is the Democrat on the primary election and special election ballots Tuesday for that seat.

A Neilson campaign palm card that started circulating over the weekend notes that Dave Kralle, a Republican on the primary election and special election ballots, "accepted two generous campaign contributions from Democratic ex-Mayor John Street, whose administration was one of the most corrupt in recent history."  That palm card lists John Dougherty, Local 98's leader and a longtime Street political ally, as the chairman of Neilson's political action committee.

Compare Neilson's palm card language to a letter Republican John McCann, Kralle's primary opponent, sent to residents of the district on Thursday -- "It will alarm you to know, as it did me, that my opponent Dave Kralle solicited and received two generous campaign contributions from ex-Mayor and defiant Democrat John Street, who presided over one of the most corrupt administrations in the recent history of our city."

Neilson and McCann are clearly singing the same tune -- you can see the palm card and letter here -- when it comes to Street and his campaign contributions. 

Kralle told us Street, who was a professor in a Temple University class he took, gave him two unsolicited campaign donations of $250 and $100.  Kralle said Local 98 wants McCann to win the Republican primary because Neilson would have a better chance of defeating him in the November general election.

McCann's brother and campaign manager, Brian, declined to comment today about the similar language on the palm card and in the letter. He said there has been no cooperation between McCann's campaign and Local 98 or Neilson's campaign.

It comes as little surprise that a Republican in Northeast Philly would bring up Street's name in a political attack.  But Neilson?  He was political director for Local 98 during Street's 1999 and 2003 campaigns for mayor, when the union strongly backed his campaigns.

Street also appointed Neilson to the Philadelphia Parking Authority board.  And Neilson wrote a letter to the Daily News in 2003, praising "the great job Mayor Street is doing in the neighborhoods."

The 169th District seat is open because Denny O'Brien resigned in January to take a seat on City Council.  The winner of Tuesday's special election will complete the last six months of O'Brien's final term while the winner of the general election will get a new two-year term starting in January.

About this blog
William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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