Who's giving, who's getting in city races

The general election is still eight days away, but campaign-finance reports filed Friday provide insight on several races:

The most expensive territory in the city is Northeast Philadelphia, where Councilman Brian J. O'Neill, the only Republican holding a district Council seat, is spending freely in his race against Democrat Bill Rubin. Since the primary, O'Neill has spent $165,110 and Rubin $117,353.

Headed into the final two weeks of the campaign, O'Neill still had $185,034 in his treasury; Rubin was left with $13,700, not a huge amount if Democratic ward leaders expect him to paper their headquarters with street money on Election Day.

One of Rubin's contributors was at-large Councilman Frank Rizzo, dumped from his mostly ceremonial position as Council's Republican whip after he voted against O'Neill on redistricting. Rizzo, who lost in the May primary and recently changed his party registration to independent, gave $1,000 to Rubin's campaign.

O'Neill secured several big contributions from organized labor, including $7,000 from the Fraternal Order of Police, $9,600 from the Carpenters Union PAC, and $3,500 from the Teamsters.

Rubin's contributions included $10,600 from the Laborers Union, $5,000 from Ironworkers Local 401, and $1,000 from Herman "Pete" Matthews, president of AFSCME District Council 33, the blue-collar city workers' union.

Al Schmidt, part of a local Republican faction unhappy with the party leadership in Philadelphia, is out-raising his GOP rival for city commissioner, four-term incumbent Joe Duda, better than 3-1. Since the May primary, Schmidt has raised $70,500, not counting $22,500 he gave his own campaign; Duda raised $22,740.

Two weeks ago, Schmidt got $10,600 from Local 98 of the electricians' union, the maximum permitted under the city's contribution limits. If the money portends strong backing from Local 98 business manager John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty - and from the First Ward Democratic leader and potentially other Democratic ward leaders in Dougherty's orbit - it would be a critical leg up for Schmidt.

Schmidt's other donors include some of the biggest figures in the state Republican Party: state chairman Robert Gleason, Montgomery County powerbroker Bob Asher, Pittsburgh publisher Richard Mellon Scaife, and conservative philanthropist John Templeton.

All five of the Republicans seeking at-large Council seats have raised enough money to be competitive. David Oh and State Rep. Dennis M. O'Brien, the leading vote-getters in the Republican primary for at-large Council posts, spent more money than their competitors through the summer and fall, and they hold the biggest bank balances as the campaign heads into the stretch, Oh with $43,263 and O'Brien with $30,846. But Al Taubenberger raised $45,920 over the summer and has $24,500 in the bank, and Michael Untermeyer has $30,426 - thanks to $60,000 in loans to his own campaign. Joseph McColgan said he was unable to file due to technical problems.

Karen Brown, the Republican candidate for mayor, is soldiering along in her longshot race against Mayor Nutter. Nutter has outspent her by better than 10-1 since the primary; Brown's campaign is out of money, $826 in the red; and Brown herself was reduced to delivering her report to the City Commissioners' Office on Friday, 25 minutes after the office was supposed to close. Nutter reported a $519,083 cash balance as of Monday.

With a lopsided registration edge of better than 6-1, Democratic candidates are prohibitive favorites in most of their races. Most of them did their major fund-raising in advance of the primary and spent what it took to secure their ballot spots.

But Councilman Darrell L. Clarke is still dipping into his treasury to support potential voters in his next big race - for City Council president.

He gave $1,500 to Councilman Curtis Jones and $1,500 to Democratic Council candidate Mark Squilla, and also supported two at-large Republicans - O'Brien ($2,500) and Taubenberger ($1,000).

The Democratic candidates for city commissioner, Anthony Clark and Stephanie Singer, are considered rivals for chairman of the agency, responsible for running the city election machinery. The deciding vote will belong to whichever Republican, Duda or Schmidt, is elected to the third commissioner position.

The two Democrats took different fund-raising paths over the summer, Singer raising $45,571 and Clark raising nothing, according to their reports. Singer's donors included Nutter ($5,000) and Clarke ($2,500), and she donated $7,300 to her own campaign.

 


Contact staff writer Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or warnerb@phillynews.com.