Councilwoman: Dem primary opponent is a bigot
Facebook allegations roil 7th District race for City Council.
THE UGLY RACE for the 7th District City Council seat got uglier yesterday after incumbent Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez launched an Internet site about her Democratic primary opponent, Manny Morales, featuring dozens of his alleged Facebook posts critical of traditional Democratic positions and constituencies.
Sanchez said the alleged Facebook comments - which she released on a site called MeetMannyMorales.com - expose him as a tea-party-leaning, anti-black, anti-gay, anti-immigrant bigot.
"It is outrageous some of the comments he made about current events, whether it's 'stand your ground' or some of the very controversial shootings," Sanchez said.
"It just shows that he is not only insensitive, but really has none of the Democratic values that the party works for. He's anti-poor, he's English-only, he's anti-immigration, he's pro-voter-ID," said Sanchez, a two-term incumbent.
Morales, who last month was endorsed by the 7th District's ward leaders 12-0 with one abstention, did not return three messages left on his cellphone by the Daily News seeking comment.
At Morales' residence in Frankford last night, a young man who said he was Morales' son told a People Paper reporter that Morales was not home but that the printouts in the reporter's hand taken from Sanchez's website appeared to be from his father's Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Morales yesterday posted on his Facebook page - then took down - a statement defending himself.
"I have been told that people are spreading outrageous and desperate lies calling me racist and homophobic among other words," Morales wrote.
"Those that really know me knows [sic] that I have family members and friends that I love and care for that are of a different skin color than me. I have family members and friends that I care for that have love [sic] ones of the same sex. I was not born in a golden crib and I'm proud to be originally from Brooklyn, New York, Red Hook projects where my mother made me plenty of delicious grilled cheese from the block of welfare cheese she received to feed our family."
Sanchez said Morales' earlier words allegedly posted on Facebook tell a different story.
Sanchez, who failed to win the endorsement of her ward's leaders in each of her two previous primary campaigns, also said that by late yesterday afternoon the inflammatory alleged posts had been scrubbed from Morales' Facebook page.
In an alleged April 2013 post, Morales railed against President Obama and shared posts that advocated closing the Mexican-U.S. border to immigrants, an exclusively English-speaking United States and mandatory drug testing for welfare applicants, according to alleged Facebook screen grabs provided by Sanchez.
In May 2014, Morales allegedly shared an image from a poster named "Right Wing News." The image featured a photo of disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling with the words, "Makes Racist Comments . . . Banned for Life."
The photo of Sterling, who was banned last year from the NBA for life, is juxtaposed with an image of the Rev. Al Sharpton with the caption, "Makes Racist Comments . . . Gets His Own Show."
After allegedly sharing the post from "Right Wing News," Morales allegedly commented: "Yup its always a one way street."
When a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, Morales allegedly posted: "Not Guilty, good job jury, Not guilty by way of self defense."
In one alleged post, Morales wrote that he carries a gun and supports the National Rifle Association. In another, he lamented that when a black person shoots a white person it's not news, but that in reverse situations black groups hold rallies and cry "racism."
In November, Morales allegedly reposted a photo from the Facebook page of "Positively Republicans!" which advocates for voter identification. He allegedly wrote, "Yes!! You have ID for Welfare, Social Security, medicaid, medicare and Disability. Why cant you show ID to vote?"
Morales also allegedly touted several pro-choice posts on his Facebook page, including one that tells women they "have the right to abortion," but said that "unwanted pregnancy is very easy to avoid, Keep your Legs closed."
Another alleged post includes a graphic of a woman saying that if she wants birth control, she will "put on her big girl pants and go get it."
Sanchez said of the alleged posts: "What this says about the party is, in their quest to try to pick a candidate, they did not do their due diligence. In trying to invalidate me, they invalidated themselves in picking someone who is to the extreme right to where the party is."
City Controller Alan Butkovitz, a Democratic ward leader in the 54th Ward - part of the 7th District - said he had voted to endorse Morales but is reconsidering.
"Some of the [alleged Facebook] statements are outrageous and it causes me to consider withdrawing my support," Butkovitz said last night.
U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic Party leader, said he had nothing to do with Morales' endorsement. The ward leaders were responsible, said Brady, who added that he's still backing the party's candidate.
But Sanchez took Brady to task as well, claiming: "He actively pursued this and made sure it happened."
Former Mayor John Street said Morales' alleged Facebook comments should "disqualify" him from the race.
He said the ward leaders from the 7th District, which includes portions of North Philadelphia, Juniata Park, Frankford and other neighborhoods, should say that they were unaware of Morales' apparent views before they endorsed him, and then withdraw their support, or else they should stand by him.
"His views are not representative of the Democratic Party and I think they ought to withdraw that endorsement," Street said.
"It sounds like he is from some rural tea-party area rather than from urban Philadelphia. I'm upset. I read that stuff and I couldn't believe it."
Based on his alleged Facebook postings, Sanchez said, she could find no common ground with Morales.
"In a city that is majority minority, and one that is embracing its diversity and trying to provide social and economic justice to everyone, Manny Morales fails on all counts," she said.
- Staff writer Vinny Vella
contributed to this report.