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The Krasner model: Could wealthy progressives upend the 2019 race for sheriff in Philadelphia? | Philly Clout

Will criminal justice reform money flood the 2019 race for sheriff in Philadelphia, like it did in the 2017 race for district attorney?

Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams is facing two challengers in the May 2019 Democratic primary election as he seeks a third term, amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams is facing two challengers in the May 2019 Democratic primary election as he seeks a third term, amid allegations of sexual harassment.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A political neophyte launches an unlikely campaign for an elected law enforcement post in Philadelphia, unsupported by the Democratic Party infrastructure but hoping for help from the deep pockets of a progressive criminal-justice reform group funded by a wealthy benefactor.

That was the Larry Krasner model in 2017, when the longtime defense attorney won election as district attorney. Could it work for Malika Rahman, a deputy sheriff who resigned Monday and declared her candidacy Tuesday in the May 2019 Democratic primary election for sheriff?

Rahman becomes the second primary challenger for Sheriff Jewell Williams, who is seeking a third term with sexual harassment allegations hanging over his head. Rochelle Bilal, president of the Guardian Civic League, announced her candidacy last week.

Williams has always run with strong support from the Democratic City Committee. So outside money would be crucial for taking on an incumbent.

Here, Bill Cobb, a criminal justice reform activist now managing Rahman’s campaign, hopes history repeats itself. Cobb was quick this week to point out his ties to national groups like Real Justice PAC, which raised money for Krasner’s campaign last year and embedded three staffers to work full-time on his primary campaign.

Real Justice PAC, based in San Francisco, has been sinking cash into races for district attorney and sheriff across the nation since early 2017. About half of the $2.1 million the PAC has reported raising comes from philanthropist Cari Tuna, wife of Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

Cobb said Rahman’s goals are “identical” to Real Justice PAC’s, making a political collaboration possible.

“The likelihood of that happening is powerful,” he said. “I believe we’re going to have a very interesting political climate.”

Not so fast, said Becky Bond, a former senior adviser to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and a co-founder of Real Justice PAC.

“Real Justice PAC is actively researching district attorney races and sheriff’s races in the 2019 and 2020 cycles but we haven’t made any endorsements yet,” Bond said in a text message.

While Rahman makes a play for Krasner’s political allies, it’s worth noting that Bilal’s Guardian Civic League, an organization of black Philadelphia police officers, backed Krasner last year when the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police rejected his campaign.

Williams, for now, continues to fly under the radar. He confirmed in a text message that he is seeking reelection. The Inquirer and Daily News reported in July that an internal investigation found Williams had violated the city’s sexual harassment policy, prompting Mayor Kenney to renew his call for the sheriff to resign.

Gritty to City Council: I’ll get there when I get there

We’ll admit it. We thought it was a little odd for City Council to approve in October a resolution saluting Gritty, the new Flyers mascot, one month after he was introduced — thrust upon? — the city of his birth.

But Gritty’s fame cannot be contained. Need proof? He didn’t even show up in Council on Thursday for the formal resolution presentation.

As word spread this week about the mascot blow-off, some in City Hall wondered if it was because City Councilwoman Helen Gym linked his appearance -- in a tweet, of course, because how else is anything communicated these days -- to the final passage of her Fair Workweek legislation, which was approved by Council Thursday. Gym also sponsored Gritty’s resolution.

Does Gritty have strong feelings about a fair system of scheduling shift workers? Turns out, no.

A Flyers spokesman said Gritty was absent due to a scheduling conflict unrelated to any legislation. Gritty better get there soon, though, since Council’s winter break is looming.

‘Masino 2019’ decal goes unclaimed

Longtime “Clout” readers will recall the “Draft Johnny Doc” days of 2006 and 2007, when buttons and posters and T-shirts appeared all over town in what seemed to be a grassroots effort to get labor boss John Dougherty to run for mayor in the 2007 Democratic primary.

It didn’t take much detective work to determine that Dougherty’s union, Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, was pushing the swag for a mayoral run that, as it turns out, never materialized.

We pondered all that this week after someone dropped off at Clout World Headquarters a 5-inch by 2-inch decal, shiny silver on black background, announcing “Masino 2019.”

As Clout reported in August, Gary Masino, leader of Sheet Metal Workers Local 19, was “definitely considering” a 2019 challenge to Kenney, according to his son, Gary Jr.

Is Local 19 running the “Draft Johnny Doc” playbook here? Did some supporter order up the decals as motivation?

Masino, through an intermediary, said the decals are being passed out to his union’s members to show “solidarity” as he prepares to renegotiate all of Local 19’s collective bargaining agreements with sheet metal contractors in the area next year.

The decal surfaced as Masino’s union was throwing its weight around in Council, pushing for approval of legislation that would create more work for his members.

Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Kenney’s reelection campaign, declined to comment on the decal.