We know it’s a Philadelphia tradition, but why lunch at the 4th Street Deli?

Going to the Famous 4th Street Deli is a Philadelphia tradition on Election Day for Democrats and a few Republicans. Why? We sent WHYY’s Tom MacDonald to find out.

Inside the Famous, politicians mingle like it’s a cocktail party. Councilman Bill Green says he isn’t sure how it started. He picked up the tradition from his Dad, a former mayor.

“I have no idea, I’ll have to ask somebody That’s where people come, so ah, my dad’s here as you saw, I just follow him around,” said Green.

About 30 years ago, political operatives David Glancy and Neil Oxman started going to the 4th Street Deli just below South Street on Election Day. Oxman says there was no underlying motive.

“It’s just because it’s fun, there’s nothing powerful, nothing meaningful, it’s just fun to see everybody,” said Oxman.

City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell is a regular.  “It’s part of Election Day, at 12 o’clock you make your way down here, it’s part of the tradition we like it and we support it,” she said.

Mayoral candidate Milton Street showed up this year to network.  “Well it’s not only a tradition, you get to rub elbows with people you don’t see on the turf where I am most of the time,” said Street.

Former City Controller, now Deputy Sheriff Joe Vignola isn’t so sure about the lunch.

“It’s a waste of time, cause if they are Election Day people and they want to support candidates they should getting the vote out instead of sitting there eating,” Vignola said.

Comcast Vice President David Cohen snickered when asked of the significance of the luncheon.

“I don’t think it’s important at all it’s just an entertaining lunch. It’s an opportunity to get together to make our predictions for the day,” Cohen said.

Mayor Michael Nutter goes to another lunch spot, Relish in Germantown, to find out how the early voting is going.

“Kind of recapping what’s going on in the first part of the day, in terms of the morning, sure there’s a lot of information sharing going on and just trying to figure out what’s the final push going to be in terms of getting out the vote on Election Day,” said Nutter.

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