Some Democrats in far Northeast Philadelphia were alarmed Tuesday to see bright red signs around polling places promoting Republican state Rep. Martina White.
Not because of the signs themselves — which simply promote White as “PA’s Republican Voice” as she ran unopposed for re-election in the 170th Pa. House District — but because of who paid for them.
The small print required by law on campaign literature indicates the posters were financed by the House Democratic Campaign Committee, a political arm that promotes campaigns for Democrats in the Pa. House of Representatives.
Was this a case of duplicitous campaign literature? A mistake at the printing shop? Or had the Democratic group actually paid for ads promoting a Republican candidate?
Adam Bonin, a Democratic election attorney for the HDCC, confirmed the group did in fact pay for the deceptively simple ads. Bonin explained the ads as a tactic to remind Democratic voters that White is, in fact, a member of the Republican party. White’s campaign has been trying to edge out a potential Democratic challenger with her own write-in campaign.
Some backstory: Democrats failed to get a single candidate on the ballot in time for the primary election, meaning that White, a rising GOP star who now chairs the city’s party, would be all but guaranteed to secure another term in the far Northeast district.
Short of options, Democrats organized a write-in campaign to push Democrat Michelle Griffin Franks as a write-in candidate, hoping to secure the minimum 300 needed votes to appear on the ballot in November.
But White launched her own write-in campaign as a counterattack, urging registered Democrats and other non-GOP voters to cast ballots in her name, in hopes of beating Griffin as the Democratic nominee. White’s campaign PAC coached Democrats in the district with detailed instructions on how to cast a write-in ballot for her, according to mailers sent to registered Democrats that were shared with the Inquirer.
Her campaign also tweeted the instructions:
While that backstory isn’t clear on the Democrat-sponsored posters, which simply promote White as “PA’s Republican Voice,” Bonin said the message comes with an emphasis on “Republican.”
”It’s to remind people that she’s a Republican and that Democrats should not be writing her in on their ballots,” Bonin said.
White did not immediately respond to a request for comment