Party activist David Landau was elected chairman of the Delaware County Democratic Party Sunday, defeating current vice-chairman Tony Campisi, 227 votes to 220 votes.
Supporters hope that Landau can help end the long dominance of county politics by the Republican machine, which holds all of the county offices, as well as most municipal and state legislative offices. Landau, who outraised fellow Democrats in an unsuccessful bid for County Council in 2007, touted his ability to raise money and his experience in running campaigns, including as a top aide in the 1984 presidential campaign of former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart.
Chairman Cliff Wilson stepped down after 16 sometimes turbulent years, and Campisi was his chosen successor. Landau also is the party's chairman in Nether Providence.
"This represents a significant step forward," said Ed Bradley, the Democratic chairman in Upper Darby and a prominent Landau backer. Bradley said that Landau's organizing ability will give a boost to state Rep. Bryan Lentz (D) in his effort to succeed Rep. Joe Sestak (D) in the U.S. House, and also will lift Sestak's campaign for the Senate.
Landau said he would ask Campisi to have a leadership role in the party. "We need to have unity," Landau said.
Commitee members voted from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, and turnout was just under 90 percent.
The party has come a long way in Delaware County since 1994, as my colleague Joelle Farrell reported June 1. Back then, fewer than 30 percent of registered voters were Democrats, compared with the GOP's nearly 60 percent. Democrats had no members in a third of the county's 49 municipalities.
Now, 43 percent of registered voters - 169,175 - are Democrats, compared with 46 percent - 181,288 - who are registered Republicans. Democrats have won and held the congressional seat centered in the county, and President Obama won the county with 60 percent of the vote.