Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

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
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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