I can remember when Philadelphia’s Harrisburg delegation included a half-dozen Republicans. They’re down to just one (State Rep. John Taylor), but a special state house election being held Tuesday (that’s right, this Tuesday) could result in the GOP getting one back.
The election is to replace former State Rep. Brendan Boyle, who’s now in Congress. In part because Democratic leaders in northeast Philly are feuding, a number of labor unions are actually supporting the Republican, 26 year-old financial adviser Martina White.
White told me her pitch is that if voters send her opponent to Harrisburg, they’ll get just another Democrat joining all the others from Philadelphia in a minority caucus in the legislature.
“With me, we’ll be able to do a lot more and have a stronger voice out in the majority caucus in Harrisburg,” White said.
In other words, she represents the chance for the district to have a rare and exotic commodity in the state capitol: a Philadelphia Republican, somebody who’ll be noticed by leaders who actually make things happen.
You might wonder why the election is happening all by itself for a few thousand voters in Northeast Philadelphia when we could just as easily wait and do it on May 19th, when everybody else votes (and save taxpayers a hundred thousand bucks).That decision was made by Republican State House Speaker Mike Turzai, for reasons I’ll let the Democratic candidate, Sarah Del Ricci explain.
“The Republicans chose the date in hopes that they’d have a better chance of winning this,” Del Ricci said. “Because we know Democrats will come out for the mayoral race (on May 19th) and the chances of us getting the word out to Democrats is a little harder for this special election.”
Del Ricci, 34, says she’s been working in community non-profits for years, and is now executive director of the Parkway Therapeutic Riding Center, which she founded. It provides riding experiences to children and adults with special needs.
Del Ricci says she’s excited about the prospect of serving the district in Harrisburg. The nomination was expected to go to her husband John, a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission employee, but he decided to keep that job and the pension that comes with it.
If you’re interested in the Philly political rivalries and grudges that have helped make this race competitive, check out this explainer from our friends at the Philadelphia Daily News.