The No-Bullshit Guide: 2016 Election’s Biggest Winners and Losers

From L to R:

Clockwise: Mayor Jim Kenney, state Rep. Dwight Evans, Councilman Darrell Clarke, U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman and labor leader John Dougherty.

Oftentimes, elections feel like they’ve been decided by the powers that be before they’re even over. The 2016 primary was different: It was full of genuine nail-biters. At 8:30 p.m., I headed to state Rep. Dwight Evans’ Election Night party at Temptations on Chelten Avenue, and everyone around me spent the first hour-and-a-half of the celebration hunched over, obsessively refreshing the Department of State’s website on their phones as votes from different areas were counted. They weren’t just tracking Evans’ bid for the 2nd Congressional District seat — they were also following the Attorney General’s race, which looked like it might be won by Stephen Zappala at the beginning of the evening, as well as several close state legislative races.

By the end of the night, a seemingly unstoppable labor leader had lost, along with an indicted congressman, a bajillion-year incumbent, and a state representative who is part of one of the most powerful political machines in the city. What a wild election.

The Winners

1. The Northwest Coalition

The Northwest Coalition, led by Evans and former Councilwoman Marian Tasco, helped put Jim Kenney in the mayor’s office last year. The alliance was also instrumental in electing Derek Green and Cherelle Parker to Council. Now, one of its own is going to Congress — Evans defeated U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah in the 2nd Congressional District race yesterday. (Yes, Evans will technically face Republican James Jones in the fall. But, with the district being overwhelmingly Democratic, we all know how this movie ends.) Another sign of the organization’s rising power: Relish, the Northwest Coalition’s Election Day lunch spot, drew bigger crowds yesterday than Famous 4th Street Deli.

What does this mean for the future? Good things for Parker, potentially, if she runs for mayor in 2023. It could also mean bad things for District Attorney Seth Williams if the Northwest Coalition decides to support a challenger when he runs for reelection next year. (Tasco isn’t a fan of Williams’.) It’s worth noting, however, that the coalition did suffer one loss yesterday, which proves it isn’t indestructible: state Rep. Tonyelle Cook-Artis, its pick in the 200th House District race, was not reelected. Read more »

Brian Sims Hangs On; Tonyelle Cook-Artis and Mark Cohen Get Booted

Mark Cohen, Brian Sims and Tonyelle Cook-Artis

Mark Cohen, Brian Sims and Tonyelle Cook-Artis. Photos | Facebook

There was a pretty shocking upset in the Democratic state House primary races yesterday: A very briefly tenured representative — who was the preferred candidate of Philadelphia’s surging Northwest Coalition — was knocked out of her seat. Harrisburg’s longest-serving Harrisburg representative was dumped by voters, too. And in the state Senate, an incumbent is holding onto a slim lead over a young challenger, but the race is too close to call.

None of the city’s Republican state representatives faced challenges in this year’s primary, but there were contested elections in 11 House and Senate districts on the Democratic side overall. In all but one of the races — the one in the 170th House District in the Northeast, where a Republican holds the seat — incumbents, some of them elected only last month, faced challenges from one or more candidates.

Five of the contests warrant special mention: Read more »

LOCAL NEWS: Ben Waxman Wins Endorsement of Gayborhood’s 5th Ward

Ben Waxman, a former state Senate aide, received the endorsement of the 5th Ward.

Ben Waxman, a former state Senate aide, received the endorsement of the 5th Ward.

State House candidate Ben Waxman wins a big endorsement in incumbent Brian Sims’s home ward.

The race for the 182nd District took a surprising turn after the 5th Ward’s leadership unanimously endorsed former state Senate aide Ben Waxman for state representative. The 5th Ward contains the Gayborhood, and its previous strong support of incumbent Brian Sims (who lives in the ward) makes this an upset for the incumbent. “I’m proud to have support from every part of the district, including the 5th Ward,” Waxman said. “If I’m elected, I promise to fight hard as an ally to the LGBTQ community, including preserving the unique character of our historic Gayborhood.” In a recent story with Philly Mag, Sims’s political consultant Dan Siegel argued that the 5th Ward “perennially endorses challengers,” with Sims even being endorsed by it when challenging then-incumbent Babette Joseph in 2012. Currently, Waxman is endorsed by two of the three wards in the district (he also was recently endorsed by the 8th Ward) and waits to find out whether the 2nd Ward will announce an endorsement as well. Read more »

Watch Out, Brian Sims: Your Challenger Ben Waxman Is Getting Big Ward Endorsements


L: Ben Waxman, former state Senate aide. R: State Rep. Brian Sims.

When Brian Sims won a state House seat in 2012 by defeating 14-term incumbent Babette Josephs, he infuriated her. In his first couple years in office, Sims also enraged the city’s Democratic machine by endorsing people who ran against House Democrats and accusing a colleague of “arguing with plants.”

Now Ben Waxman, a former state Senate aide, is running against Sims in this year’s primary election, and in recent weeks, Waxman has won the endorsement of two Democratic wards in the 182nd legislative district: the 5th Ward and the 8th Ward. (The only other ward in the district — the 2nd Ward — hasn’t announced its plans, according to Waxman’s and Sims’ campaigns.) This is bad news for Sims: It means that Waxman has locked down Sims’ home ward (the 5th) and the biggest ward in the district (the 8th), both of which will help Waxman get out of the vote on Election Day.

More often than not, Philly’s Democratic wards support incumbents. So this development raises an interesting question: Is Sims still paying the price for running as an insurgent against Josephs in 2012? Or has he simply failed to develop relationships in the city’s ward system? Read more »

Q&A: Brian Sims on the Race for the 182nd District

State Rep. Brian Sims of the 182nd District

State Rep. Brian Sims

The race for the 182nd hasn’t been this competitive in years, with four candidates still in the running a month before the primary. What do you think has made so many candidates want to challenge you this time around?
This district has a long history of robust elections. So many great folks ranging from Sen. Larry Farnese to Terry Gillen have made a run for this seat, and I think that’s one of the qualities that makes this district so unique. The number of people who want to be involved with their government is inspiring. The other people in this race are good people who are genuinely trying to make a difference in their communities, and I applaud them for that. I have enjoyed the opportunity to have a substantive conversation with them about how best to move forward, and I am excited about the remaining weeks of this campaign. Read more »

Marni Snyder Says She Would Be Tough on LGBT Hate Crimes

Marni Snyder is running in a highly contested race for State Representative of the 182nd District.

Marni Snyder is running in a highly contested race for the 182nd District.

This 182nd District seat is highly contested, with a competitive second-term incumbent. Why should voters consider you the more viable choice?
I’ve knocked on over a thousand doors the past few weeks and I’ve spoken to hundreds of voters. I’ve shared with them my vision for stronger representation in Harrisburg, and the response has been tremendous. The people who live in this district want someone with my experience and my skill set. I’ve been inside every single school in the [182nd legislative] district. I’m an experienced advocate who fights hard for others every single day, and it’s something that they want and that we need in Harrisburg. Read more »

Lou Lanni on Running for State Rep as an LGBTQ Candidate

Photo provided by Lou Lanni.

Photo provided by Lou Lanni.

This 182nd District House seat looks highly competitive. What are you bringing to the table that’s distinctly different from others running?
Experience. Experience in life. Experience in business as a long time realtor who negotiates for a living. Experience as a policeman who dealt with many serious, and at times deadly, situations. And experience as a lifelong Philadelphian who knows our city and its people inside out — the only one in the field of four candidates, I notice. In the course of my life, I’ve learned how to deal with a wide variety of people in many different, and sometimes demanding, situations. Understanding personalities, seeing things from the other person’s perspective, and knowing when to compromise is the key to being a successful legislator. Knowing how to combine with others to get the job done, being willing to negotiate, and being open to compromise is the way government should work. A “my way or the highway” attitude will never work in Harrisburg. In spite of all the glowing accolades my competitors have assigned themselves, I know that I am the one person in the field ready to lead from day one. Read more »

State House Candidate Ben Waxman on Running as an LGBTQ Ally

Ben Waxman is running for State Representative of the 182nd district, which occupies the Gayborhood;photo provided by Waxman.

Ben Waxman is running for representative of the 182nd District, which includes the Gayborhood; photo provided by Waxman.

What is the primary reason you’re running for office?
Over the past four years, Republicans in Harrisburg cut over $400 million from Philadelphia’s public schools. The results have been catastrophic. We have an entire generation of students who don’t have access to a guidance counselor, full-time nurse, or extracurricular programs. Class sizes have exploded, with more than 30 students in a classroom. That is unacceptable and will have devastating consequences for the entire city. I’m running now because the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is ground zero for this fight, and Philadelphia needs a champion in Harrisburg. Read more »

Will Brian Sims Fight Off Two Ballot Challenges?

State Rep. Brian Sims

State Rep. Brian Sims

When state Rep. Brian Sims dropped out of the 2nd Congressional District race last week, some political observers speculated that it meant he would have a smoother reelection campaign ahead.

Perhaps the race won’t be as uneventful as some thought, though. On Tuesday, Sims’ nominating petitions were challenged by two separate groups of people. Attorney Charles Gibbs filed one challenge on behalf of Walter Spencer and Sunanda Ghosh. Lawyer Lawrence Otter filed another on behalf of Michael Connor and Allison Andrew. Read more »

Brian Sims Just Dropped Out of the Congressional Race

State Rep. Brian Sims

State Rep. Brian Sims

The rumors that have been flying in Philadelphia’s political circles are true: State Rep. Brian Sims is dropping out of the 2nd Congressional District race and endorsing Dwight Evans.

Sims announced the news on Tuesday afternoon. “When I started this campaign it was because I felt Philadelphians deserved an advocate in Congress — someone who would focus on equality for all Americans, creating more and better jobs, and ending the culture of gun violence in our streets,” he said on Facebook. “Having walked the streets of the district, and spoken to thousands of neighbors and constituents, I now feel that my friend and colleague, Dwight Evans, is best equipped to take our fight for justice to Washington, D.C. and will serve Philadelphia well in Congress.”

What kind of impact will this have on the race? Read more »

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