Clout is betting that most voters in Philadelphia didn’t hear much about Maj Toure, the Libertarian Party candidate in last week’s election for a City Council at-large seat.

It didn’t go well. Toure took less than half of 1% of the more than 1.3 million votes cast by 304,500 Philadelphians for 18 candidates in the race.

Now Toure, 39, has broken up with the Libertarian Party, where he was seen as a rising star, thanks to his Second Amendment advocacy through “Black Guns Matter," a group he founded in 2016.

Born Martin A. Jones in North Philadelphia, Toure was scheduled to be the party’s keynote speaker at its national presidential nomination convention in Texas in May.

That spotlight was revoked Wednesday after a political mess that started on and is still playing out across social media.

Libertarian Party Chairman Nicholas Sarwark said Toure became “more and more controversial” during his Council campaign and finally “devolved into a lot of inappropriate name-calling” with a prospective donor to the party. Still, Sarwark said, he had hoped Toure would remain a Libertarian after joining the party last year.

Daniel Hayes, the Libertarian official who revoked Toure’s invitation, praised his Second Amendment advocacy and donated to his Council campaign. Hayes pointed to tweets from Toure that were seen by some party members as transphobic and anti-immigrant.

“It’s social media silliness,” Hayes said of the furor after Toure was dumped.

Toure has been knocking the Libertarian Party in his Twitter feed. But he declined to discuss the matter with Clout. That’s not the first time he’s dodged our questions.

He granted a brief phone interview about his Council campaign in late September but refused to answer pressing questions like “How old are you?” He was even less forthcoming when we asked about Black Guns Matter.

“I don’t want to talk about that at all,” he said in September, before claiming his cell phone signal was fading and he’d call us back. That never happened.

We had questions about the more than $250,000 he claims to have raised in three years for a “50-state tour” to hold classes “in urban communities on their Second Amendment rights and responsibilities through firearms training and education.” We also wanted to ask about the Black Guns Matter gear — $50 sweatshirts, $40 T-shirts — he sells online.

Toure’s reticence is curious, because he’s no stranger to public speaking.

He testified about gun violence in a Sept. 26 hearing of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. He addressed the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) in February. And he appeared in the Pennsylvania Capitol rotunda in May for a gun-rights rally hosted by State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Butler County Republican and one of the most conservative members of the state legislature.

Superior Court candidates Amanda Green-Hawkins and Judge Dan McCaffrey raise their hands after addressing the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's inaugural "Independence Dinner" at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Nov. 1.
STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
Superior Court candidates Amanda Green-Hawkins and Judge Dan McCaffrey raise their hands after addressing the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's inaugural "Independence Dinner" at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Nov. 1.

With a recount waived, intrigue lingers in Superior Court race in Philly

The tight race for Superior Court came to a resolution this week, as Democratic candidate Amanda Green-Hawkins conceded the election.

That means Republican Megan McCarthy King, a Chester County assistant district attorney, will join Democrat Dan McCaffery, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge, on the statewide appellate court bench.

Even as Green-Hawkins bowed out, some Democrats wondered why McCaffery outperformed her by about 8,000 votes, or 1.5%, in Philly. Green-Hawkins, a lawyer for the Steelworkers union in Pittsburgh, lost to King by less than half of 1%. She waived her right to a recount Wednesday.

McCaffery was a hometown candidate, and his campaign raised more money. But there is a touch of intrigue. Clout heard that some Democratic ward leaders didn’t step up to help Green-Hawkins. For example, 31st Ward leader Peg Rzepski encouraged voters in a letter to support McCaffery and other Democrats on the ballot — with no mention of Green-Hawkins.

We also heard Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers distributed ballots in Northeast Philly promoting McCaffery but not his running mate.

Local 98 spokesperson Frank Keel said: “The only Election Day ballot IBEW Local 98 put out on the streets, other than a handful of bullet ballots and a straight Democratic ticket, was the AFL-CIO endorsed slate of labor candidates, which included Amanda Green-Hawkins. Any inference to the contrary is false.”

Did those single-candidate bullet ballots include McCaffery?

“We bullet balloted many diverse candidates in many races,” Keel said.

Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee, said he wasn’t aware of any rogue operation. Brady did say that Green-Hawkins’ campaign failed to contribute to the local party during the general election — a requirement of every endorsed candidate.

“I didn’t hold it against her,” Brady said. “I guess people knew about it.”

He added that McCaffery’s campaign not only made a $25,000 contribution, but also paid for the City Committee’s ballot printing costs.

“He worked hard,” Brady said. The party’s sample ballot included both candidates, though McCaffery’s name was highlighted in green.

President Donald Trump at a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday.
Evan Vucci / AP
President Donald Trump at a news conference in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday.

Pa. voters: President Trump? ‘Bleh.' Top Democrats? ‘Meh.’

A Muhlenberg College/Morning Call Poll found that Pennsylvania voters agree on one thing — they don’t care much for any of the leading contenders in the 2020 presidential race.

President Donald Trump had a favorable/unfavorable rating of 43% to 54%. Former Vice President Joe Biden hit 43% to 45%. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren was 38% to 47%. And U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders ranked at 41% to 50%.

“None of the candidates have a groundswell of favorable public views when you’re looking across the broader electorate,” pollster Christopher Borick said.