Farnese: I knew it would be close

Sam Wood reports:

11:55 a.m.

Larry Farnese stunned city power brokers last night with his victory over John Dougherty for the Democratic nomination for the 1st Senate district. 

Farnese, a Center City attorney, said this morning in a phone interview that he will "most likely" stop practicing law if elected this November and become a full-time legislator.

Farnese, who grew up in the suburbs, won by a 5 percent margin over the Philly born-and-bred Dougherty. And did it without the endorsements of party officials.

As he walked down Walnut Street this morning, we spoke to Farnese by phone, our conversation interrupted by passersby congratulating him and wishing him luck.

Q: Are you part of the same storied family that ran a good part of Italy for centuries? (Ed. - The Farnese were a powerful  noble family, particularly during the Renaissance.)

A: My roots go back to Italy, but I'm not sure. I've never been there. However, my grandfather traveled there quite often. I'd love to visit sometime.


Q: Where you surprised by your victory over John Dougherty?

A: Not really. It's really something I’ve been talking about for the last week. We did our own poll which had me between 2 or 4 points behind John with a margin of  error of 5 percent. Even a big polling agency, Capital Wire, said last week it was a two point race. 

I knew, and so did everybody, that it would be a close race. We had momentum over the weekend. My opponents were really coming at me, and with that I knew I was the front runner. We kept that momentum growing all weekend long. .

Q: You won without the endorsements of the Party's major players, Gov. Rendell and D.A. Lynne Abraham. How did that happen? A: I ran against the party machine in 2006 and I did it again yesterday.

The only endorsement that really matters was one the voters delivered April 22. And that’s the one I got.

.Q: What's next?

A: I want to take a little rest first. My campaign staff needs some well deserved time to spend with their families and get back to their lives. I have an election to run and I’ll be preparing for my campaign in the fall to win the general election. I'll also be working to elect the next Democratic President of the United States. .

Q: Who do you think will be the Democratic nominee?

A: After yesterday, I don’t know. I have no idea who it will be. It looks like a tossup. Obama is ahead on the popular vote and delegates, but Hillary had a great day yesterday. Both candidates had a great presence on the street at the polling places. I thought it was going to be a draw. But Hillary had a great day and I congratulate her on her victory.

.Q: If you win, do you plan to juggle your current job with senatorial duties?

A: Most likely I will not continue to practice law if I win. I’ll devote my time to being a full time legislator in the Senate. .

Q: Have either Johnny Doc or Anne Dicker called to concede and wish you well?

A: I have not had a chance to talk to John yet. Ann called and left a message. She was very gracious.

I respect both John and Anne. They both ran great races. I look forward to working with them both.


Q: Yesterday there seemed to be a push to have Anne withdraw from the race. Some folks feared she would be a spoiler and insure a Dougherty victory.

A: I heard there was some talk about trying to talk to Ann about that. But it’s over and done with. We’re united through the primary. I hope to have her support and John's support and look forward to working with them both. .

Q: What platforms will you be running on? Do you have an agenda set if you win in the general election?

A: The first and most important task is to restore people's trust in the city. They need to know their senator is working for them and not for some personal interest.

My next focus will be to take illegal handguns off the streets of Philadelphia. I intend to work night and day to get Philadelphia the right to enact its own gun laws.

Third, I want to work to bring universal health care coverage to all Pennsylvanians. And finally, one of my platform issues will be making the playing field even for school kids in Philadelphia. They should have the same opportunities and funding as the children and school districts in the suburbs and outlying counties. .

Q: What do you think the voters responded to most about your campaign?

A: People in my district were thinking the same way as when they elected Mayor Nutter. They responded positively to a message of reform and a pragmatic approach to tackling the issues.


Q: Senator Fumo didn't endorse you until after you had been declared the winner.

A: I guess he wanted to make sure I was a sure bet!

He’s pretty confident that we’ll win in the general election, but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to campaign!I intend to run a full-steam-ahead campaign. .

Q: But you are going to take a break? Do you have anything planned? A trip to Italy?

A: I haven’t decided. First up, though, I'm having lunch today with my staff at noon. There'll  be some time for plenty of get-togethers over the next few days.