The Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity has endorsed Republican incumbent Joseph Duda in the hotly contested race for City Commissioner over Al Schmidt.
The endorsement is something of a surprise because:
1) The Black Clergy had endorsed Schmidt, also a Republican, in the May primary, though Duda had not asked for their approval at that point.
2) It's a little unusual to see the Black Clergy endorse a Republican.
Reverend Terrence Griffith, the 1st vice president and chair of the Black Clergy's Political Action Committee, said the panel was backing Duda because it was more satisfied with the way he answered one question. Griffith would not say what that question was.
"I’ll tell you personally I like Al Schmidt, but you have to go along with the committee," Griffith said.
Heard in the Hall was tempted to see the hand of Democratic U.S. Rep. Bob Brady in this decision, since he is friends with both Griffith and Bishop Audrey F. Bronson, president of the local Black Clergy. Griffith, however, assured Heard that Brady played no role.
Political observers see Schmidt as a reformer and Duda as part of a local Republican party that often works closely with Democrats.
The only other Republican that the local Black Clergy endorsed is at-large City Council candidate David Oh.
"We think he ought to be given an opportunity," Griffith said of Oh, who, if he wins, would be the first Asian-American to serve on Council. Griffith praised Oh for maintaining a home in Cobbs Creek, where many African-Americans also live.
"We want to spread the word that African Americans ought to go out and vote for David Oh because he lives among us," Griffith said.
There are four candidates for City Commissioner, Democrats Stephanie Singer and Anthony Clark and Republicans Duda and Schmidt. Three will win election, and voters can select two. Because Democrats have a large registration edge among city voters, Clark and Singer are widely expected to win. The Commissioners elect their own chair, so the outcome of the Schmidt/Duda race probably will determine who leads that office. Schmidt and Duda have not said who they will back for chair, but it is widely believed that Schmidt would back Singer and Duda would back Clark. Singer has pledged to reform the office, while Clark is an incumbent and has not granted interviews during this race.
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