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Looking at political lansdcape through red-tinted glasses

Friday, November 5th, 2010



The midterm election’s over, but its ripple effects are just beginning for the city of Philadelphia. With the GOP preparing to wield greater power in Harrisburg, what’s a blue city to do?

There’s no question Philadelphia’s many Democratic politicians would have preferred to see their party’s candidates win.

“We could sit around as Democrats and cry about the fact that we pretty much got shellacked, as the president says…”

Or, Philadelphia City Councilman Darrell Clarke says, politicians can pick themselves up and start thinking about how to deal with the new political landscape.

“It could have problems…as it relates to our ability to get dollars for affordable housing activities…We are extremely dependent on a significant amount of state revenue to run our educational system, state revenue to run our department of human services, state money to some degree to support our court system.”

Mayor Michael Nutter too seems well past drying his tears. Before the election, everyone knew the state’s next governor – Republican or Democrat – wasn’t going to be from Philadelphia…and it definitely wasn’t going to be Ed Rendell, the former Philadelphia Mayor who treated the city well.

“Now is the time for relationship development and building toward a future and folks getting to know each other in a very different alignment and a very different environment,” says Nutter. “Our obligation is to govern. Campaign’s over.”

District Attorney Seth Williams is trying to pick out possible positives from the situation, given that the state’s governor-elect disagrees with the DA’s position on a long list of issues including gun control legislation.

“Having a former attorney general serve as the governor should be helpful in some ways for those of us in law enforcement…The governor-elect in one of his first comments…stated that he hopes to make the state fiscally more responsible and that that starts with public safety,” says Williams. “So I hope we can work with him to that end.”

Williams says given the state’s recent red wave, it could be more difficult for Philadelphia to get it’s fair share of the state’s tax dollars.

So who will the region turn to?

The director of the Institute for Public Affairs at Temple University, Joseph McLaughlin, has an idea.

“I think Senator Dominic Pileggi will be the most important figure in the legislature for the southeast region of Pennsylvania. Senator Pileggi is the majority leader of the Senate. The Senate did not change. It will still be overwhelmingly Republican. And I think he is someone who understands regional issues.”

McLaughlin says if the city and regional delegations to Harrisburg can unite around some priorities, they have a chance to be successful.

“I think the business community here will be more important to the city in helping them get what they need from Harrisburg or avert things that they think are really bad.”

McLaughlin says the region is still potentially a very strong force in Harrisburg; the city just needs to send a clear message to the rest of the state about its priorities, and build bridges with legislators of both parties, in the suburbs.


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