Former Vice President Joe Biden, proud son of Pennsylvania, made a pretty big deal about basing his campaign headquarters here in Philadelphia.
His campaign manager called Philly “a thriving city and a testament to the American spirit,” saying it would serve as "an inspiration for Team Biden, and is the ideal setting to continue our fight for the soul of this nation.”
Smart political strategy, too, setting up shop in the biggest city in a state critical to the 2020 election, especially with Biden’s Scranton roots.
So Clout was expecting some big, celebratory ribbon cutting, maybe with the Geator With the Heater as D.J.
Turns out, no. The office opened with no fanfare Monday at 1500 Market St., across from City Hall.
There was no party. But there was a protest.
On Wednesday, about 30 members of an immigrants’ rights group sat in the lobby, linking arms and holding signs protesting deportation and detention of undocumented immigrants during President Barack Obama’s administration, and demanding an end to those practices. Seven activists were arrested and then released, according to organizer Catalina Santiago.
“What makes Biden stand out is the fact that he has the audacity to run as a potential candidate while not recognizing the pain and suffering the undocumented community went through under the Obama and Biden administration," Santiago said.
Biden’s campaign noted that while the protest was going on, he was in D.C. meeting with the BOLD PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, to discuss immigration reform, expanding access to health care and education, and engaging Latinx voters throughout the campaign.
Santiago’s group plans to do similar protests at the headquarters of other campaigns.
Finding those could be a little difficult, though. Other presidential headquarters are also under the radar. Not a single presidential candidate lists a campaign address (or a main phone number) on their website.
California Sen. Kamala Harris’ Baltimore headquarters features no campaign signs or indication her staff is working there. A Harris staff member told the Baltimore Sun: “We are definitely located in Baltimore City. Can’t disclose the location.”
And Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign also won’t reveal the exact address of her headquarters in the Charlestown section of Boston.
Sen. Bernie Sanders has dual locations in Vermont and D.C., exact whereabouts unknown.
Of the top polling Democratic candidates, only New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker announced the location of his HQ, in Newark. The former mayor of that town previously held a news conference about his run for president outside of his Newark home.
Mark Nevins , a local strategist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 primary run, said headquarters secrecy is standard fare these days, because they house “so much data and so much research and so many algorithms” critical to running a campaign.
Philadelphia’s legislative delegation wants a do-over for new legislation giving state Attorney General Josh Shapiro equal jurisdiction in Philadelphia gun-related cases now handled by District Attorney Larry Krasner, who sees the measure as a troubling undercutting of his authority.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes, a Philadelphia Democrat, said he will introduce legislation this fall to reverse the section of the law that sparked controversy.
“It’s clear that nobody wanted it,” Hughes said Thursday.
That might be true now. But Hughes and every other member of the Senate voted in favor of it a few weeks ago, and it cruised through the House before being signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Hughes said lawmakers, in the chaotic budget season, were focused on other priorities. And he said nobody sounded the alarm about the now-controversial amendment, a trimmed-down version of a broader provision Shapiro originally supported. The final version was developed in part by State Rep. Martina White, Northeast Philadelphia’s lone Republican and ally of the Krasner-hating police union.
Shapiro says he did not push for the Philadelphia-only version of “concurrent jurisdiction” in the new law and insisted he would continue collaborating with Krasner’s office.
Clout was curious: Did Hughes think lawmakers read the bill before signing it?
“I think people read the legislation … and I think no one said anything was wrong with it,” he replied.
The do-over can’t be introduced until September, and Hughes acknowledged it will be a tough sell to the Republican-dominated Legislature.
The Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club has new leaders. And they have some work to do “rectifying some unfinished business,” according to a Wednesday news release.
The politically potent group is coming off a strong primary election cycle, during which a packed ballot of candidates came calling for support.
Clout hears that the Philadelphia Board of Ethics has also been calling about delinquent campaign finance reports. That apparently was prompted by intermittent filing misfires going back to 2014. Some of that has already been resolved.
Adam Bonin, an election law whiz, confirms he is volunteering for Liberty City to bring its records up to speed: “We have been actively working with the Board of Ethics to resolve our outstanding issues and make sure Liberty City is on the best path moving forward.”