Jonathan Lovitz looked to create buzz this week when his Democratic bid for the State House’s 182nd District drew a big-time endorsement.
His critics buzzed instead about a perceived dig at 2022 primary rival Deja Alvarez, sparking a debate about identity politics.
The Washington Blade, which bills itself as “America’s LGBTQ news source,” had endorsed Lovitz to replace State Rep. Brian Sims, now running for lieutenant governor and not seeking another term in the district, which includes Philly’s Gayborhood.
Lovitz, senior vice president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, touted that in an email to supporters, writing that the Blade “has endorsed my candidacy for state representative, focusing on my proven experience, not just my identities.”
Lovitz, who is gay and white, underlined that bit about “identities,” something not mentioned in the Blade’s endorsement. Some spotted an attack on Alvarez, a trans Latina. Alvarez saw it that way but didn’t want to engage in a back-and-forth.
“I don’t have the time or energy to focus on the negativity,” said Alvarez, director of community engagement at World Health Care Infrastructures, which serves people who have HIV.
Lovitz said the line wasn’t about Alvarez but about prioritizing candidates’ records over their identities.
”This is a campaign about experience, period,” he said. “There is no reason for someone receiving a private fund-raising email to think that we’re talking about anyone other than our campaign.”
Kendall Stephens, a Black trans woman who sits on the board of the William Way LGBT Community Center with Lovitz, said she was shocked at the mailer’s language.
“For someone to say something like that, to me, is very unwise and just not thoughtful at all to those who are put at great risk because of their identities,” she said. “It makes me wonder, ‘Well, how do you really feel about me?’ That’s why this hurt so badly.”
Alvarez, who is roommates with Sims, stared down identity politics in an unsuccessful 2019 City Council run, when a rival’s campaign manager heckled her, falsely claiming she wasn’t Latina.
The Blade called Alvarez an “excellent” candidate but cited Lovitz as a stronger choice to keep the seat in LGBTQ hands. Its only harsh talk was saved for Sims, knocking his “endless media tour and social media self-promotion.”
Kevin Boyle’s tweet attacking Isaiah Thomas vanishes
In Philly politics, the sharpest rhetorical attacks come from allies, not enemies.
Just ask Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, who last week proudly touted on Twitter the attention his “driving equality” legislation received from USA Today — only to have State Rep. Kevin Boyle tweet Sunday that he’s a “total fraud” who’s “playing the race card.”
The bill would ban police traffic stops for minor vehicle violations, which disproportionately affect Black drivers. Those violations would prompt tickets or warnings by mail instead.
“Isaiah Thomas is probably the worst member of Philadelphia City Council,” tweeted Boyle, who is white. “In a city with a murder rate so out of control he’s literally championing efforts to further restrict policing. Furthermore he’s playing the race card. Total fraud!”
Thomas, a Black at-large Democrat, was perplexed by the attack, spokesperson Max Weisman said, since the two men have been friends and political allies for a decade. Boyle’s tweet vanished after about an hour Sunday, leaving plenty of time for people to save screenshots.
Boyle, a Democrat who represents Northeast Philly, told Clout he stands by his tweet and didn’t delete it. Boyle claimed Twitter may have suspended his account, which was still available Thursday.
Weisman said Boyle never spoke to Thomas about his legislation and didn’t respond when Thomas called about the tweet.
Thomas, in a statement, called Boyle’s tweet “disappointing” and said he welcomes conversation “however uncomfortable at times, about our agenda to improve police-community relations.”
Kevin Boyle tweeted after the 2019 primary, which Thomas won, that Thomas “will be a great addition on City Council.”
Jack & Diane & John Mellencamp the socialist
Here’s a little ditty: New Jersey’s Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican challenging Gov. Phil Murphy in November’s election, is leaning hard into the name of his running mate, former State Sen. Diane Allen.
At a South Jersey rally introducing her this week, “Jack & Diane” signs were everywhere, and the duo walked onstage to the iconic 1982 hit song by John Cougar (who now goes by John Mellencamp.) So starts a three-month earworm.
The song, about teenage sweethearts known for sucking on chili dogs outside the Tastee-Freez, was an ode to the desires of young love, including a suggestion they “run off behind a shady tree” so Jack “can do what I please.”
It’s unclear whether Mellencamp, who in 2017 described himself as “a socialist,” would approve the use of “Jack & Diane” by the 59-year-old Ciattarelli and 73-year-old Allen.
Ditto Tom Petty, whose music was also played at the Moorestown rally. His estate was known for issuing cease-and-desist orders against former President Donald Trump’s campaign for using the late musician’s songs.
Also on the playlist at Wednesday’s event was Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” When New Jersey’s Jon Bon Jovi goes home, incidentally, it’s to a house near Murphy — his “friend and neighbor.”
Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.