The Brief: Johnny Doc’s Giant Helping Hand to His Supreme Court Candidate Brother Kevin Dougherty
1. Kevin Dougherty—Johnny Doc’s Brother—Is Amassing a Huge Warchest for His Supreme Court Campaign. Want to Guess Where a Lot of That Money Comes From?
The Gist: The Inquirer reports that Kevin Dougherty raised $707,931 through March, including at least $302,000 from IBEW Local 98, the union controlled by his brother John Dougherty. Kevin Dougherty’s total is $131,481 more than the other party-endorsed Democrat in the race, David Wecht, and $161,051 more than the best-funded GOP candidate, Michael George.
Why It Matters: There are an unprecedented three vacancies on the Supreme Court this year, and the fight for those spots was inevitably going to be an expensive one. Johnny Doc looks to have made the election of his brother—who is a Common Please Court judge and, by most accounts, a fine one—his top political priority this year. That’s obviously a consequential development for the Supreme Court race, given that the Electricians Union has become the “biggest independent source of campaign money” in Pennsylvania. But it could be a big deal for the mayoral race as well, as money spent getting Kevin Dougherty elected can’t also be spent getting Doc ally Jim Kenney elected. Doc reportedly formally endorsed Kenney at a closed-door union event on Wednesday, and he’s clearly putting some of Local 98’s formidable resources into the mayoral race. But will Doc have to choose between the election of his brother and the election of Jim Kenney?
2. The Pro-Anthony Williams Super PAC Is on Pace to Spend a Staggering $4 Million in the Mayoral Race
The Gist: Dave Davies reports for WHYY that the American Cities Super PAC—which is funded principally by those three ultra-wealthy traders and education reform advocates from Bala Cynwyd—is on track to spend a staggering $4 million on Anthony Williams‘ behalf this primary election.The group has already bought more than $1.5 million worth of TV and radio ads, Davies reports.
Why It Matters: That is a positive avalanche of cash from a single group in a local election. Davies quotes Kytja Weir at the Center for Public Integrity who tells him: “If this group spends $4 million, that is more than was spent in 22 states in the 2014 election cycle by independent groups.” Davies goes on, reporting that independent groups like American Cities have outspent the candidates nine-to-one on TV and radio. That’s remarkable. And all of that cash is being spent to advance the causes of Williams and Kenney. It paints a very dire picture for Lynne Abraham, Nelson Diaz and Doug Oliver, who have no Super PAC friends and no internal fundraising capacity to compete with that kind of cash.
3. A. Bruce Crawley—a Prominent Black Philadelphia Business Leader—Questions Dwight Evans’ Endorsement of Jim Kenney
The Gist: In an op-ed for the Philadelphia Tribune, Crawley takes issue not just with the Northwest Coalition’s endorsement of Kenney, but with how it’s been portrayed in the media. Writes Crawley:
Perhaps the most surprising thing that I’ve read during this whole, entirely-too-long, political season was The Philadelphia Daily News’ headline, last Tuesday, which asked an absolutely stunning question: “Is Kenney the Future Voice of Black Philly?”
I know Jim Kenney. He’s a good man and a capable councilman. But to endorse him for mayor as part of what has been presented as some sort of symbolic community-wide support by Black voters is, quite frankly, presumptuous and, on its face, self-serving.
To say that Jim Kenney deserves the support of Black voters, as Evans explains, simply because he’s opposed to “stop and frisk” and because he “led the fight to decriminalize marijuana,” does a disservice to the importance of the majority Black vote in the May 19 Democratic primary.
If Evans and his fellow endorsers really were looking for issues that “disproportionally affected young African-American men,” why didn’t it occur to them to publicly support a candidate who would commit to end the virtual exclusion of young Black men and women from the skilled building trades?
Why It Matters: Crawley’s voice is a consequential one, and here it highlights the discomfort the Northwest Coalition’s endorsement is creating in black political circles. Crawley’s point is pretty simple: the endorsement of a few black politicians is hardly tantamount to widespread black support, and his op-ed is a warning to the press and the political class not to interpret it as such.