Reclaim Philadelphia, the progressive group born from activism in the 2016 presidential election, has racked up political victories while promising to be more open and welcoming than the establishment Democrats in the city.
But the group’s aim to send more progressive candidates to Harrisburg has would-be allies claiming Reclaim has become the sort of insular clique it so often railed against.
Amanda McIllmurray, Reclaim’s political director, defends the process as fair and open. The group’s 800 members have until Saturday to vote on endorsements and don’t have to follow the recommendations.
“We go hard for the people we think we should support, who are aligned with our vision and back up their words,” McIllmurray said. “And with the people we don’t support, we’re really clear about why.”
Some of the toughest criticism came in races where Reclaim’s preferred candidates opted to not seek office.
State Rep. Joe Hohenstein, first elected to his lower Northeast Philly district in 2018 with Reclaim’s first endorsement, withdrew his bid for support this year. The steering committee called him “inconsistent” on progressive priorities and accused him of “giving legitimacy to white supremacists” for statements he made during civil unrest in the city.
Aileen Callaghan, a founding member of Reclaim who worked for Hohenstein, planned to challenge him in the Democratic primary but new lines drawn for state House districts put him just outside the boundaries.
Hohenstein hit back in a fund-raising appeal Wednesday, knocking Reclaim for ”an ugly and baseless charge that I refute and resent.” He told Clout “purity tests” show Reclaim is unable to respect candidates who aren’t “all the way there” on every policy.
The steering committee also recommended no endorsement in State Rep. Mary Isaacson’s bid for another term in her district that stretches from Center City to lower Northeast Philly. Samantha Pheiffer, who took Reclaim’s candidate training, said family issues ended her planned challenge.
Isaacson touted her progressive bona fides in Saturday’s meeting after the steering committee took a dim view of her legislative work and some of her campaign donors. She later told Clout Reclaim is operating like any other political organization.
“Its politics,” she said. “But don’t pretend you’re not doing the same thing when you rail against the Democratic Party.”
Deja Lynn Alvarez, a candidate for a state House district in Center City, issued a spitting-mad take-down Saturday of Reclaim’s criticism that she has worked with the Philadelphia Police Department on policy issues and is endorsed by local Democratic Party chair Bob Brady.
Alvarez, who in 2019 became the first transgender woman to run for City Council, said she doubts Reclaim can welcome people “with the actual lived experiences” that motivate the group’s policy agenda.
Reclaim recommended for endorsement in that race Ben Waxman, a communications consultant who worked for District Attorney Larry Krasner.
“They’re only interested in putting themselves in power,” Alvarez told Clout. “Almost every candidate they endorsed is either married to, living with, or employed by a member of the steering committee. And yet they’re always hollering about the establishment.”
Doug Mastriano says Facebook is censoring him — on Facebook
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a Franklin County Republican running for governor, this week claimed Facebook is censoring him because the company dislikes his conservative opinions.
How do we know? Mastriano told us — on Facebook.
Mastriano on Tuesday called in to Wendy Bell Radio, streamed to 304,000 Facebook followers, complaining that the company sent him a message Monday that he was posting too much information from his personal page. He said Facebook then suggested he had been hacked and locked his account.
Never one to pass by a conspiracy theory, Mastriano chalked this up to a “brilliant” scheme to censor him. His proof? The Facebook page he uses for Senate posts, with 203,000 followers, and the page he uses for his campaign, with 98,000 followers, still work just fine.
Mastriano, who made the same claims Tuesday in a video on his Facebook campaign page, suggested the company restricted access to the page where he has the fewest followers because it would draw too much attention to shut down his bigger pages.
“They don’t like our speech,” Mastriano told host Wendy Bell, who has a history of being bounced from Pittsburgh media outlets for controversial comments. “It’s just that they don’t like conservatives. They don’t like that we speak truth.”
Mastriano, who did not respond to Clout’s hails, also told Bell he runs 67 other Facebook pages, one for each county in the state, for his campaign. They’re all up and running.
To sum up: Mastriano runs 70 Facebook pages. One of them experienced some sort of issue this week. So the company must be out to get him.
Bell was predictably sympathetic and said she was thinking about shutting down her own Facebook page in outrage.
“This is tyranny!” she declared on a page that is still operating. “This is not America.”
“They exist to undermine the democratic process and pour money into elections that make it nearly impossible for grassroots campaigns like ours to pull through.”
— Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, complaining in a fund-raising letter Thursday about a new Super PAC supporting U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb. Fetterman has so far outpaced his competitors in fund-raising for the open U.S. Senate seat.
Clout provides often irreverent news and analysis about people, power, and politics.