The year 2019 ends the way it started for West Philly’s 190th state House District — with the Democratic City Committee seeking a replacement for another disgraced representative who just left office.
The Democratic leaders of the seven wards in the district are set to interview a batch of potential nominees Friday afternoon for the Feb. 25 special election.
Given the district’s recent pedigree for criminal behavior and political infighting, this could again be a rocky process.
Former State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell resigned two weeks ago after being charged with stealing more than $500,000 from a nonprofit. She is expected to plead guilty to some of the charges.
Johnson-Harrell was the party’s third pick for the last special election, in March, to fill the seat vacated by former state Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, who resigned a year ago after being convicted of bribery and other charges. The party’s first two picks for the March special election bowed out after Clout raised questions about whether they lived in the district.
Clout hears two potential nominees — G. Roni Green and Danyl Patterson — are now vying as front-runners for the party nomination, which is akin to a winning lottery ticket, since 87% of the voters in the district are registered Democrats.
Green, a business agent for SEIU Local 668 and a Democratic committeewoman in the 38th Ward, said she has been an “activist and advocate” in the district for three decades. She’s looking to turn the page on the district’s past troubles.
“What has happened in the past doesn’t dictate who we are in the future,” Green said.
Patterson filed just one campaign finance report that year, showing she raised $39,000 but not detailing where it came from. Like many judicial candidates that year, she contributed $35,000 to the Democratic City Committee. George Gossett Jr., her campaign chairman, said Patterson gave her campaign the $39,000 and now will file corrected finance reports with the Board of Elections.
Democratic Party boss Bob Brady notes that Green and Patterson both have strong labor union support. Brady also predicts that some contenders who don’t win the nomination for the special election intend to challenge whoever wins that race in the April 28 primary election.
Ray Bailey from Local 1291 of the International Longshoremen’s Association is seeking the nomination, having run for the 190th seat three times before. Bailey recently said the seat “seems to be cursed” by politicians using it as “their own private ATM machine.”
Other contenders include Jabari Jones of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative; marketing consultant Rashaad Lambert; and Amen Brown, who ran in the last special election as an independent. Pastor Pam Williams, who also ran as an independent, is considering another run outside the party.
Fans of the Christmas season television classic The Year Without a Santa Claus know it starts out talking about the “curious, furious, fidgety year when Santa Claus unhitched his sleigh and vowed he was taking a holiday” but ends with jolly old Saint Nick showing up for the job.
Kenney’s City Hall team confirms that he hung up the tights this year, because of a scheduling conflict. City Councilman Mark Squilla still showed up to play Santa, though.
Clout also hears Kenney’s schedule conflict was linked to the city’s search for a new police commissioner. Maybe the mayor didn’t want to conduct an interview in tights and a funny hat? Still, we think the city’s next top cop should know the new boss likes to dress as an elf.
Clout’s call: The Kenney camp realized upon the eve of the general election that an easy victory, combined with his total lack of effort, effectively would remove him from public conversation about future political races. The mayor didn’t want to be the prime ingredient in a recipe for lame duck.
Kenney doubled down last week in an interview with WHYY’s Tom MacDonald, saying that "certainly there are one or two spots I would consider” in electoral politics, adding that in addition to governor, he also has an interest in the U.S. Senate race in the same election cycle.