Will a special election dodge a Northeast Philly Democratic brawl?

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All eyes are on Philly council president Darrell Clarke, who holds the power to call a special election for someone to finish the last year-and-a-half of councilman Bill Green's four-year term. Green is resigning to chair the School Reform Commission. (Michael Bryant/Staff/File)

City Council President Darrell Clarke announced today there will be a special election to fill a vacant at-large Council seat, and he opened the invitation to all parties interested. This "one-step" election will be held on May 20, the date of the primary election. 

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic Party chairman, has been working on a special electoin deal to settle what could turn into a nasty primary election battle in Northeast Philly.  That deal would have the Democratic ward leaders select for the special election state Rep. Ed Neilson, now in the second year of his first term in the 169th District.

That district was moved to York County in a state redistricting plan in 2012, leaving Neilson in the new district of state Rep. John Sabatina Jr., who is now seeking  his fifth term.  Neilson worked for Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.  Sabatina is the son of a longtime Northeast Philly ward leader.

Matt Wolfe, a West Philly Republican ward leader, is seeking his party's nomination for the special election.

While Democratic and Republican nominees are chosen by ward leaders in special elections, independent candidates can contact the board of elections to obtain the paperwork to file before an April 8 deadline. 

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