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A congressional ground game vs. air war in NE Philly

Political conditions in Northeast Philly could help shape the result of the 13th Congressional District's crowded Dem primary.

Coming to polls near you: (from left) Marjorie Margolies, Valerie Arkoosh, Brendan Boyle and Daylin Leach, the 13th District hopefuls.
Coming to polls near you: (from left) Marjorie Margolies, Valerie Arkoosh, Brendan Boyle and Daylin Leach, the 13th District hopefuls.Read moreSTEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

COULD excellent ground-game conditions in Northeast Philly overwhelm the more traditional TV air war being waged for the 13th District U.S. House seat?

Half of the district is in Montgomery County, the other half in Northeast Philly, where candidate Brendan Boyle has been a state representative since 2009.

A perfect storm of Northeast Philly politics may be brewing to boost turnout, helping Boyle as the only Philly candidate:

* Boyle and his brother, state Rep. Kevin Boyle, have built their own field operation in the Northeast, apart from the Democratic City Committee. Kevin Boyle's 172nd District is within the 13th District's borders.

Boyle said he, his brother and their supporters have knocked on more than 50,000 doors of Democratic voters since July 9.

* Boyle is supported by the city's building-trades unions.

* Those unions are expected to field election-day operations to help state Rep. Ed Neilson, the Democratic candidate for a City Council seat in a special election on the same day as the May 20 primary.

Neilson's former state district, moved in redistricting, was within the 13th District's borders.

* State Rep. Mike McGeehan is retiring from the 173rd District, also within the 13th District borders. That set up a competitive primary between Mike Driscoll and Dennis Kilderry, who have split the support of the building trades. Driscoll has the Democratic Party endorsement. Paul DeFinis is also running.

* State Rep. Mark Cohen is facing his strongest primary challenge in four decades from Jared Solomon. Cohen's 202nd District is also within the 13th District's borders.

The other Democrats - former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies, state Sen. Daylin Leach and Dr. Valerie Arkoosh - are from Montgomery County.

So they could splinter the vote in that part of the district.

Leach frequently mentions his childhood in Northeast Philly.

Margolies has endorsements from five Democratic ward leaders in Northeast Philly.

Democratic campaign consultant Neil Oxman said Margolies had the edge in name recognition six months ago, since she held the seat for one term from 1993-95.

But he sees a surge for Boyle unless Margolies can come with a big-money run of television campaign commercials in the closing two weeks of the race.

Corbett shifts on pot

Gov. Corbett yesterday signaled a significant shift in his stance on medical marijuana.

Leach, a co-sponsor of legislation on the subject, threatened Monday to hold a "sit-in" at Corbett's office if he didn't meet with parents of children who could benefit from the drug.

Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni yesterday said those two developments are not related. Pagni said Corbett has been talking with families for months about the issue.

At issue is a nopsychotropic derivative of marijuana that, in the form of oil placed under the tongue, can help control severe seizure disorders in children.

Leach said he doesn't care if his threat of a sit-in was a factor.

"As long as the governor is willing to engage on this, I commend him," Leach said.

Corbett called for "new legislation that would allow a research-based pilot program with leading children's hospitals" in the state.

A Quinnipiac University poll in March showed that 85 percent of the state's registered voters support the legalization of medical marijuana. Those voters were evenly split on legalization of the drug for recreational use.

Guzzardi gets the boot

After great effort and considerable expense, the Pennsylvania Republican Party has successfully removed from the May 20 primary ballot a challenger to Corbett who stood virtually no chance of winning the election.

Voting 5-2, the state Supreme Court yesterday ruled the nomination of Ardmore businessman Bob Guzzardi was fatally flawed because he filed his statement of financial interests with the Department of State but not with the state Ethics Commission.

Guzzardi, a frequent critic of Corbett, said his political party feels entitled to run candidates without challenge.

"The state Republicans spent a lot of time and resources to remove a Republican from a Republican primary ballot and deprive Republicans of a choice," Guzzardi said. "Then the Republican Party wonders why it is losing."

The ruling overturns an April 15 Commonwealth Court decision to keep Guzzardi on the ballot.

Two Supreme Court justices, Max Baer and Debra McCloskey Todd, dissented, saying a Department of State employee told Guzzardi that he did not have to file with the Ethics Commission.

The state Republican Party helped organize the court challenge, filed by four people who hold party positions across the state. Guzzardi last week estimated that the party spent more than $60,000 to challenge him.

A party spokeswoman declined yesterday to discuss "specifics."

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN