The Democrats’ Battle Plan for the Philly ’Burbs

Photograph by Clint Blowers

Ryan Costello is being a good sport. He really is.

The Republican Congressman is holding his second town hall this year in his suburban district. And it’s only April. (Compare that to Pat Toomey: He’s done nada, nowhere, since 2015.) Two hundred constituents slide into uncomfortable wooden benches at the historic Chester County Courthouse to participate in the airing of grievances; some have donned The Resistance uniforms. “How about that t-shirt!” Costello says to a light-haired woman in a “Nevertheless She Persisted” tee. “And my sweatshirt says the ‘Women’s March’!” she shoots back. Read more »

WHYY CEO Bill Marrazzo’s Pay Last Year: $842,832

Back in 2007, WHYY CEO Bill Marrazzo’s pay was called “excessive and inappropriate” by his employees. An Inquirer columnist demanded a boycott of the public radio station over it. An anonymous group of WHYY workers urged him to resign in large part because of it.

At the time, he was making about $430,000 a year. What’s the reaction going to be after his latest pay jump? Read more »

How Rebecca Rhynhart Defeated Philadelphia’s Democratic Machine

City Controller candidate Rebecca Rhynhart | Photo courtesy of Rhynhart’s campaign

In the wake of Philadelphia’s paradigm-shifting primary, the district attorney election has gotten far more attention than any other race. But the results of the city controller face-off were far more surprising — and arguably more emblematic of the weaknesses of Philly’s Democratic machine — than the DA’s election.

Rebecca Rhynhart, a top financial aide for two mayors and a former Wall Streeter, won the controller’s Democratic primary in a landslide, defeating three-term incumbent and party favorite Alan Butkovitz by 17 percentage points. Unlike the winner of the Democrats’ district attorney election, progressive Larry Krasner, Rhynhart did not have the benefit of an independent political action committee with $1.45 million in the bank. Nor did she enjoy Krasner’s diehard fans or his ability to capture the imagination of the national media. Rhynhart was also competing on the Democratic Party’s home turf: She challenged a longtime politician in an off-year election. These races are typically won by party-endorsed candidates, in part, because so few voters cast ballots in them.

So how did Rhynhart pull off her upset victory? The election was a perfect storm, say campaign staffers, party insiders and other political observers — and it holds key lessons for future outsider candidates. Read more »

The Biggest Winners and Losers in Philadelphia’s 2017 Primary Election

Clockwise: Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, Democratic district attorney nominee Larry Krasner, Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police chief John McNesby, labor leader John Dougherty, City Controller Alan Butkovitz, ward leader Marian Tasco, and protesters at Philadelphia’s Women March.

Philadelphia’s election on Tuesday was a game-changer. The winner of the Democratic primary for district attorney is a criminal defense lawyer who has never prosecuted a case in his life and made a name for himself by suing law enforcement over alleged abuses and representing progressive activists like Black Lives Matter. A young ex-budget director crushed incumbent City Controller Alan Butkovitz, the ultimate political insider, in an upset victory.

Those two Democratic nominees, Larry Krasner and Rebecca Rhynhart, are the race’s biggest winners. But who are the other winners and losers — the issues, interest groups, and kingmakers — in the election? Here’s our list: Read more »

Progressive Firebrand Larry Krasner Wins District Attorney Primary

Larry Krasner | Photo courtesy of Krasner’s campaign

Democrat Larry Krasner, a firebrand criminal defense attorney who has never worked a day in his life as a prosecutor, won the district attorney primary Tuesday night. With 90 percent of precincts reporting, he captured 37.5 percent of the vote in a seven-candidate race. Read more »

Rebecca Rhynhart Unseats Incumbent City Controller Alan Butkovitz

Left: Alan Butkovitz (photo courtesy of Curtis Blessing). Right: Rebecca Rhynhart (photo courtesy of Rhynhart’s campaign).

Democrat Rebecca Rhynhart defeated incumbent city controller Alan Butkovitz in an upset victory on Tuesday, earning 58 percent of the vote with 90 percent of precincts reporting.

Rhynhart’s success in the primary election is yet another sign that the power of the city’s Democratic machine is waning. Butkovitz, a ward leader and decades-long politician, was endorsed by the local Democratic Party. Read more »

Everything You Need to Know to Vote in the 2017 Philadelphia Primary

Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Good morning and happy Election Day, Philly! Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The city will likely pick its next district attorney today. (Yes, there will be a general election this fall, but the Republican candidate will face an uphill battle because of the Democratic Party’s 7-to-1 voter registration edge.) The choice is critical: It’s the DA’s job to prosecute crimes in Philadelphia, meaning he or she plays a major role in determining whether victims get justice, how many people go to prison every year, and if citizens trust law enforcement. Currently, Philadelphians have a lot of reasons not to have faith in the DA’s office: District Attorney Seth Williams has been indicted for allegedly seeking bribes and stealing from his own mother.

There are other important races on the ballot, too, including for city controller, judges and election board worker. Plus, there are two ballot questions to answer. If you haven’t heard of any of the candidates, or don’t know where your polling place is located, don’t worry! There’s still time to learn. Here’s everything you need to know to vote today: Read more »

The No-Bullshit Guide to the 2017 Philadelphia Primary

Clockwise: District attorney candidates Larry Krasner, Joe Khan, Rich Negrin, Teresa Carr Deni, Jack O’Neill, Tariq El-Shabazz, Beth Grossman and Michael Untermeyer. | Photos courtesy of the campaigns

Do you loathe that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is doubling down on the War on Drugs? Are you glad he’s finally restoring law and order to the country? Do you think the city spends too much money locking people up? Just enough? Too little? If you answered affirmatively to any of these questions, then you should vote in this year’s district attorney race. The DA prosecutes crimes in Philadelphia, helping to determine whether justice is delivered to victims and how many people end up in prison every year. The choice in front of voters is as important as ever: Current District Attorney Seth Williams has been accused by the feds of seeking thousands of dollars’ worth of bribes and stealing from his own mom.

Voters will also choose Philadelphia’s next city controller, judges, and election board workers on Tuesday, as well as vote on two ballot questions.

Don’t worry if you haven’t paid close attention to these races — it’s why we created this election guide and an accompanying list of endorsements for each candidate in the district attorney race. It’s a ruthlessly honest, easy-to-understand explanation of the candidates’ pros and cons. Here are your choices. Read more »

What’s Pat Toomey Hiding From?

Illustration by Jesse Lenz

It’s early April, and Pat Toomey is hosting a town hall.

Well, that’s not quite true. It’s a telephone town hall — a glorified conference call. “Thank you very much for taking the time to join,” the Republican senator says to the nearly 10,000 people on the other end of the line. “It’s a great way for me to stay in touch with many, many constituents when I have to be here in Washington.” Then Toomey gets meta and makes a rousing defense of his record on, of all things, holding town halls. “We’ve done over 60 town halls” — during his six years in office — “14 in person, and this is now our 49th telephone town hall.” Read more »

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