Johnny Doc: “I’m Getting Out of Politics a Little Bit”

The labor boss has stepped down as a ward leader.

John Dougherty | Photo by Jeff Fusco

John Dougherty, head of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council. | Photo by Jeff Fusco

John Dougherty is such a big deal that he doesn’t need the Democratic City Committee anymore. The electricians union boss tells Citified he has stepped down as leader of the First Ward in South Philadelphia.

“I’m getting out of politics a little bit,” he said.

Of course, I don’t believe Doc when he says that, not even “a little bit.” The city’s electricians union has become the largest independent campaign contributor in Pennsylvania in recent years, even larger than trial lawyers and gas drilling bigwigs. Dougherty also helped get two key allies elected last year: his brother, state Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty, and Mayor Jim Kenney.

The fact that Dougherty has given up his post in the Democratic City Committee simply seems like a sign that he has bigger fish to fry than the management of ward politics. Late last year, he ascended to the position of leader of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council. Theoretically, he should have more time now to focus on that, though I fully expect the electricians union will continue to be a major campaign donor.

“I’m just going to stay in the construction lane for a while,” said Dougherty. “I’m going to work with Jimmy, Gov. Wolf. My message won’t be politics. It’ll be economic development for years to come.”

Democratic committee people voted in December for Tom Rumbaugh to take Doc’s place, according to Dougherty spokesman Frank Keel.