Darrell Clarke’s Power Is Now Growing Beyond City Limits

City Council prez flexes muscle in the Attorney General's race.

sharpiro clarke

Montgomery County Commission Chairman Josh Shapiro and Council President Darrell Clarke | Photos by Bradley C. Bower/AP and via Clarke’s Facebook page

City Council President Darrell Clarke’s growing political muscle is now manifesting itself on a wider stage: state politics. Today, he became one of the first officials to publicly endorse Montco Democrat Josh Shapiro’s run for Pennsylvania attorney general.

The endorsement came in a mid-morning press release in which both Clarke  and Shapiro emphasized a shared commitment to criminal justice reform. “I look forward to working with Attorney General Shapiro to reform Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and ensuring that low-level offenders have a chance to turn their lives around and become productive citizens,” Clarke said in the prepared statement.

Such reform represented new campaign ground for Shapiro, who announced his candidacy this week with a focus on “cleaning up a mess” in the scandal-plagued AG’s office.

Larry Ceisler, a Philadelphia political analyst, said the endorsement is significant. Clarke, he noted, often endorses late in campaigns, not early. “I think the fact that this is such an early endorsement is what makes this important for Shapiro,” Ceisler said.

It’s increasingly the norm for Clarke, however: Last month he endorsed Katie McGinty in her U.S. Senate race.

Ceisler added that Clarke’s support has become increasingly important to city voters — it might have even helped Republican Councilman David Oh get reelected in a tight race this fall. “Darrell has a lot of influence in the city of Philadelphia,” Ceisler said.

“Darrell has a big platform as City Council president,” he added. “A City Council president from North Philadelphia embracing a county commissioner from Montgomery County has positive implications for Shapiro.”