Dougherty leans toward Nutter

    Looks like John Dougherty, head of Philadelphia’s most politically powerful trade union, is inching toward supporting Mayor Nutter for re-election.

    Four years ago, Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers went whole hog for Tom Knox in the Democratic primary, to the point of funding two political operatives who got caught by the city Ethics Board targeting Nutter with sleazy fliers.

    That escapade cost Local 98 a $10,00 fine and untold legal fees.

    But as Knox prepares to run again, Dougherty isn’t seen in his camp, and he sounds like a man getting ready to back the mayor.

    “We’ll be getting together soon to talk about his re-election effort,” Dougherty told me yesterday. But he made it clear he and Nutter aren’t going steady just yet.

    “I think there are a lot of neighborhoods where people are frustrated, and even with this good weather there’s snow on some streets,” he said, adding that “Knox will be a formidable candidate.”

    But Dougherty said Nutter has been “more open and accessible in the last few months than in a long time.”

    “I’ve developed a decent relationship with the mayor down the stretch here,” he added.

    Dougherty said to look for developments soon.

    He also told me he’s made his pick in the hotly-contested 1st district City Council contest, where incumbent Frank DiCicco faces a hungry pack of challengers.

    Dougherty said DiCicco “has done some high quality work” and that candidate Jeff Hornstein “has some good things to say.”

    But he said Whitman Park president Mark Squilla “is probably the most capable, and can probably communicate with Joe First District better than anybody I know.”

    There have been reports that Dan Stevenson, brother of a Local 98 business agent might run with the union’s support. Dougherty said his understanding is that Stevenson will take a pass on the race.

    Dougherty is now Democratic leader of the 1st ward in South Philadelphia. The district includes most of South Philadelphia and Center City east of Broad, and some river wards.

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