The Brief: Philly’s GOP Representation in Harrisburg Doubled Overnight, as Martina White Wins Special Election

Republican Martina White will replace Brendan Boyle in the state House.

A lifeboat for the Philly elephant? |

A lifeboat for the Philly elephant? |

Republican elected officials are all but extinct in Philadelphia. True, you have State Rep. John Taylor and 10th District Councilman Brian O’Neill, but, until yesterday, they were the lone, natural-born Republicans in the inhospitable Philadelphia ecosystem. The rest? Well, they owe their office to minority party protections enshrined in the City Charter, not to voter will. Put another way, there would be no GOP at-large council members, no Al Schmidt as City Commissioner, if there weren’t set-asides for the non-majority party written into the city’s charter. That’s how marginalized the city’s Republican party has been.

Until, that is, last night, when Republican and first time candidate Martina White handily won a low turnout special election in the 170th House district in Northeast Philadelphia, defeating Democrat Del Ricci and literally doubling the city’s GOP delegation in Harrisburg.

Now, there’s a lot of complicated political back story to the race, which William Bender ably and succinctly breaks down here. Suffice it to say that this is hardly a simple story of Republican values carrying the day in the 170th district. Martina White, who won office with the support of a lot of unions that usually endorse Democrats, seems likely to face an well-qualified, well-funded opponent next year.

Nonetheless, it is clearly notable that Philadelphia will now send a second Republican to Harrisburg. Will that actually help the city make its case in a General Assembly dominated by the GOP? There’s little question that Taylor has wielded outsized influence, as the sole Republican representing Pennsylvania’s biggest city. Can Martina White do the same?

Don’t Miss…

  • Jon Geeting at PlanPhilly takes on the tricky issue of how-to-advocate for equitable city streets without making the entire argument seem like the pet issue of white professionals / amateur urbanists.
  • The movement to compel/persuade big non-profits like Penn and CHOP to make PILOTS-that’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes-may be gaining steam, reports Philly mag’s Joel Mathis.
  • The Daily News’ Will Bunch interviews Joel Greenberg, the lone member of the super-wealthy trio of Bala Cynwyd traders who are funding the independent expenditure campaign designed to elect Tony Williams. It’s worth reading if you’re curious-and you should be-about the motivations of suburban mega-millionaires who are deeply involved in Philly’s mayoral race.
  • Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney isn’t yet advertising on television himself, but there are now two independent expenditure efforts supporting his campaign. One backed by John Dougherty, the other by the American Federation of Teachers, Chris Hepp reports for the Inquirer. In other ad-war news, Tony Williams is airing his first television ad and Nelson Diaz has a new web-video (which cites Philly mag stories WAY too often for our taste).
  • ICYMI, Andy Maykuth reported this Sunday for the Inquirer on the possibility of increased liquefied natural gas production at the PGW plant in Port Richmond. This is a big deal because a) there’s potentially a lot of money involved and b) there are significant risks associated with LNG storage and. particularly, exports.