All at-large incumbents endorsed

Dem city committee, ward leaders and the Guv offer their ballot choices

In a decision with no drama, the Democratic Party's city committee yesterday endorsed the five City Council incumbents running at large.

In separate decisions, ward leaders from the seven Council districts where primary battles are under way also have endorsed the incumbents.

And party stalwarts were among the endorsed candidates running for Common Pleas, Municipal and Traffic courts.

It was left to Gov. Rendell to shake up the judicial picture by nominating Philadelphia attorney Dan Anders, an openly gay man, to fill the Common Pleas seat vacated by James J. Fitzgerald III, who moved up to fill a Supreme Court position. Anders is also on the ballot and recommended by the Philadelphia bar association.

In a primary season when loyalties are being sliced and diced among the five mayoral contenders, the nod from Bob Brady, city committee's party chairman, congressman and mayoral candidate could mean less than in prior years.

But Councilman-at-large James Kenney was happy. "I'm proud to have it and consider all these people in the party as part of my political family," he said.

Sure, he conceded, on Election Day there will be plenty of doctored city committee ballots, and some incumbents might be cut by ward leaders unhappy with a particular incumbent.

Councilman-at-large Juan Ramos said it was his first endorsement in three tries for Council. A first-term incumbent, Ramos said he's aware of what can happen on Election Day.

"I tend to take rumors more seriously as we get closer to the election," he said. If he senses that he's going to be cut by a ward leader, Ramos said he'll pour election day resources into that ward.

Andrew Toy, an at-large challenger who's been praised by Gov. Rendell for his work in Rendell's Commerce Department in the 1990s, said the city committee "had to do what it had to do."

"But that's not to say there's unanimity within the party. There are plenty of independent voters out there," said Toy, who is hoping to make it onto some mayoral ballots.

As for endorsements in the Council districts, Damon K. Roberts, a Harvard-educated former Philadelphia Housing Authority attorney who is running against Council President Anna Verna in South and Southwest Philadelphia, said he was in no way surprised by the incumbent's endorsement.

"I got kicked out of the 40th Ward meeting," he said. "They told me it was a private meeting for Mrs. Verna." Roberts said he's relying on shoe leather and a grassroots campaign in a district devastated by homicides, poverty and school dropouts.

"Life is like a relay race, and there comes a time when you have to pass the baton," he said. "I think in this district it's time for a change."

The city-committee endorsements for Common Pleas judge are Linda Carpenter, Thomas M. Nocella, Angeles Roca and Beverly Muldrow.

For Municipal Court, the endorsed candidates are Joseph J. O'Neill and Joyce Eubanks, while in Traffic Court Mike Lowry, Robert Mulgrew and Sandra A. Mills were endorsed.

The Council-at-large incumbents are Blondell Reynolds Brown, W. Wilson Goode Jr., Bill Greenlee, Kenney and Ramos.

The district incumbents endorsed by the city committee are Frank DiCicco, Carol Ann Campbell, Darrell Clarke, Daniel Savage, Donna Miller, Marian Tasco and Verna. *