Piecing a political party back together after a contentious primary is no easy task.
Just look at the 2016 feud between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Clout is pretty sure it'll be reporting on the reverberations of that race until the sun burns out.
A brawl that has been happening in the Philadelphia suburbs is not quite as bad, but it's close — and it cracks along some familiar fault lines.
You may recall this year's messy primary among Democrats for Pennsylvania's Fifth Congressional District: It was a passionate, bruising, 10-way fight that pitted Delaware County Democrats against Philly Democrats, men against women, labor groups against law firms.
Unsurprisingly, that battle is bleeding into this weekend's race for leader of the Delaware County Democratic Party.
David Landau, a Duane Morris attorney who has commanded the party for the last eight years, has said he is running for reelection. John Kane, business manager of Plumbers Local 690, has announced that he is challenging him.
Landau has pointed to historic victories achieved by Delaware County Democrats in recent years, and argued that he "should be at the helm because I have the proven track record."
Kane has pointed to divisions in the local party, particularly between unions and party leaders, and argued that "somebody needs to bridge these gaps, and I think that's something I could bring to the table."
Kane — along with his ally John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty, the powerful and controversial leader of the city's building trades — supported Philadelphia Democrat Rich Lazer in the race for the Fifth District. The congressional district is mainly located in Delaware County, but includes parts of Philly.
Landau did not endorse anyone in the primary. But in a February email to party leaders, he said Lazer could "defeat our opportunity to put a Delco Dem in Congress" and called him "a protege of Local 98 boss John Dougherty."
Kane called that the "first strike" against Landau in the eyes of some labor leaders.
The second strike? A tweet by a party consultant that referenced an article noting State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky's favorite candidates won the May primary "despite her endorsing against the building trades."
The third, he said, was a vice chairwoman's Facebook post asking "how much time" Lazer would spend helping Mary Gay Scanlon, the Democrat who won the Fifth District primary, in her race against Republican Pearl Kim this fall.
Landau said both posts were deleted and "I'm not happy" about them. He also said that they happened "after Kane declared" his intention to run.
Some of Landau's supporters, meanwhile, have criticized the fact that Kane's union has donated to Republican candidates in Delaware County over the years. They've also lambasted his ties to Dougherty, who is under federal scrutiny. Dougherty has denied any wrongdoing.
Kane said that his union has given much more money to Democrats in recent elections, and that it has contributed to GOP officials who are "supportive of labor." As for Doc, he said he "has done so much for his membership and for the people of his community."
Democrats told us they're fairly sure these internal disagreements won't hurt Scanlon in the general election. The Fifth District is favored to go to Democrats, after all, and Kane and Dougherty said they are backing her. But some wonder if the divisions could wreck the party's hopes of winning more local and state elections.
To that end, Clout hears there is a move afoot to rally behind a "compromise" candidate for the party leadership.
Would Kane consider throwing his weight behind such a person? "I would definitely consider that for the betterment of the party." Would Landau? "I'm not going to comment on it."
After press time, a Democratic source informed us that Kane said at an event Thursday evening that he and Landau will drop out of the race for party chairperson and support a woman for the position.
Colleen Guiney, who is in charge of the Swarthmore Democrats, is rumored to be that woman. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fiedler’s husband to run for ward leader
Clout told you last week that political insiders think Berniecrats may win control of the Second Ward in South Philadelphia.
That's not the only Democratic ward that progressives might seize.
Elizabeth Fiedler, the former WHYY reporter who won a hard-fought primary battle this year for the state House, said that a majority of committee people in South Philly's First Ward likely support her. Several other sources told us the same thing.
Fiedler's husband, mechanical engineer Adams Rackes, said he is running for leader of the First Ward.
Rackes, a volunteer organizer for the left-wing group Reclaim Philadelphia, recruited and supported numerous residents who successfully ran for ward committee posts.
"We need a radical redistribution of wealth and power from corporations and billionaires towards regular people, and doing that requires building strong political organizations," he said when asked why he was throwing his hat in the ring. "One way to do that is to have the ward system working really strongly for regular people."
Tommy Rumbaugh, the incumbent ward leader allied with Dougherty, is rumored to be running against Rackes. He did not respond to a request for comment.
During her campaign, Fiedler decried "politics as usual." Clout had to ask: Is it politics as usual for the spouse of a likely soon-to-be-elected official to run for ward leader?
"I am not running for ward leader in order to build any type of personal power," Rackes responded, adding that he wants the ward's endorsements to be voted on by committee people — which is very much not how it works in many Democratic city wards, where leaders unilaterally pick their favorite candidates.
"Every committee person is going to be more empowered in this ward than even insiders in most other wards," he said.
Fiedler, meanwhile, said that she remains "tired of politics as usual" and that "we need a government on all levels that is focused on one thing: representing people."
As for his chances of winning the ward fight, Rackes was more cautious than others.
"I think if we have an open and democratic process" at the ward election on Monday, he said, "that we have the votes to move the ward in a much more open and democratic position."