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The Bernie Bump: A Pa. state Senate candidate raked in cash after a Sanders endorsement

What happens to a local campaign in Philadelphia when Sanders offers an endorsement and calls for donations? The money rolls in.

State Sen. Larry Farnese, left, is being challenged in the 2020 Democratic primary by community organizer Nikil Saval.
State Sen. Larry Farnese, left, is being challenged in the 2020 Democratic primary by community organizer Nikil Saval.Read moreYONG KIM, TOM GRALISH / Staff photographers

Call it the Bernie Bump.

Clout wondered if an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent socialist from Vermont who ended his Democratic bid for president last month, could create a fundraising windfall in a Philadelphia race for the state Senate.

It did for Nikil Saval, the community organizer, writer, and ward leader trying to unseat Sen. Larry Farnese in the Democratic primary for the 1st Senate District.

The Sanders endorsement brought in $11,286 from 2,477 donors from “every single state," according to Amanda McIllmurray, Saval’s campaign manager. She and Saval worked on Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and then helped start Reclaim Philadelphia.

Saval had been raising about $10,000 per week just before the endorsement.

Sanders listed Saval among nine candidates for state legislatures in a May 11 email to his vast list of fervent, small-dollar donors.

» READ MORE: Bernie Sanders got more small donations in Pa., N.J. than Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden combined

He noted that “state legislatures have a tremendous influence over our daily lives” and said the nine "progressive candidates will represent our movement at the state level.

Last week, when he got the Bernie bonanza, Saval said he raised a total of $46,510, with the Laborers District Council kicking in $10,000 and national progressive groups also contributing.

A new round of campaign finance reports is due Friday. But Farnese, who picked up an endorsement Thursday from Gov. Tom Wolf, clearly has money to spend. He has invested $180,380, about $36,000 per week, into campaign commercials airing on cable television.

That’s a change for the three-term senator, who hasn’t faced a significant challenge since he was first elected in 2008. The district stretches south from Port Richmond, covering Center City, and South Philadelphia.

The winner of the June 2 Democratic primary should do well Nov. 3, with no Republican on the ballot.

Conservative poll claims Trump ‘surges ahead in Pa.'

A poll released Thursday by Restoration PAC, an independent expenditure group funded by one of the biggest spenders in conservative politics, claimed President Donald Trump has “surged to a lead in Pennsylvania” over former Vice President Joe Biden.

The poll showed Trump up 50.2% to Biden’s 45.5%. Restoration PAC suggested those results reflect “some backlash” in the state “against the virus shutdown orders."

However, an average of polls compiled by the website Real Clear Politics shows Biden leading Trump in Pennsylvania by 6.5%.

What gives? Clout dug into the poll’s cross-tabs to find out. Guess what we found?

Restoration PAC’s statewide poll of 598 likely voters interviewed from May 1 to 13 broke down by party this way: 43.2% Republicans, 36.7% Democrats and 20.1% independents or smaller political parties.

See the problem?

The most recent voter registration data from the state, updated Monday, shows the breakdown as 47.6% Democratic, 38.2% Republicans and 14.2% independents or smaller political parties.

So Restoration PAC under-sampled Democratic voters across the state by nearly 11% and over-sampled Republicans by 5%.

Pollster Glenn Hodas said his team aimed to contact 600 voters, waiting until the end of the poll to ask about party registration. He said weighting the poll to match party registration in the state would “skew” the results since people migrate between parties over time. He also suggested, without offering evidence, that some Democrats might have misidentified themselves in the poll.

“It’s just an idea,” Hodas added.

The pollster also found Trump trailing Biden in two other key swing-states, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Restoration PAC is funded by Richard Uihlein, an Illinois shipping-supplies billionaire, who has given the group $4.5 million in the last 15 months.

Open Secrets, a project from the Center For Responsive Politics, ranks Uihlein as the second-largest individual donor funding outside political groups, with more than $25 million sunk into the 2020 election cycle.

A killing, once concealed, is now a campaign pitch

A Florida sheriff, appointed to his post last year by Gov. Ron DeSantis and now seeking election, came under scrutiny this month when it was revealed that he had shot and killed a man in 1993 when he was a 14-year-old living in Philadelphia.

» READ MORE: Fla. sheriff under scrutiny for not disclosing that he killed a man 27 years ago in Philadelphia

Among the many criticisms lobbed at Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony was that he had not disclosed the killing to DeSantis or in a previous law enforcement job in Florida.

Tony is heading in a different direction these days, incorporating the violent episode into his campaign.

Clout’s Florida correspondent pointed out a recent tweet showing a flier from Tony’s campaign. It shows his run-down childhood home with the words, “I was 14 when gun violence broke through my door...”

The daughter of the man shot, 18-year-old Hector “Chino” Rodriguez, calls Tony a “murderer." Reporting from the Daily News and The Inquirer from 1993 shows Tony was charged as an adult, had his case transferred to Family County, and was found not guilty.

Tony, who did not respond to requests for comment, has said he was defending his family from an intruder in their Fairhill home.

Former Daily News reporter Don Russell wrote the 1993 story, which was used by the website Florida Bulldog to reveal Tony’s past.

Comments to the Miami Herald from Russell, who was widely known for his award-winning beer writing in the Daily News as Joe Sixpack, are included in Tony’s flier.

“It’s amazing this kid grew up to be the county sheriff,” Russell told the Herald. “He damn near was killed. The neighborhood this happened [in] was not a good neighborhood. It’s amazing he’s got his life together to be sheriff.”