Kicking the tires at Pa. Society

    I made the trek to New York on the Bolt Bus to hang around events at the Pennsylvania Society, the annual gathering of the Keystone State’s political elite. The food I’m sure was tasty (I didn’t partake) and the drink flowed freely at the receptions, but at these things, the serious pols stick to club soda. They’re working.

    Rick Santorum, the former Republican U.S. senator, drew a crowd in the lobby of the Waldorf Astoria outside a packed reception sponsored by the electricians’ Local 98. After a warm hug with Local 98 chief John Dougherty, Santorum told me and other lurking scribes that he’s spending plenty of time in early primary and caucus states on his I-just-might presidential campaign.

    “It’s an opportunity for the folks in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina to kick the tires,” he said, “and for me to kick the tires and see if it’s real or not.”

    Inside the Local 98 reception, you could pick up “Rick 12” stickers for your lapel. They were paid for by Philadelphia Phuture, a political committee strongly associated with Dougherty.

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    Doughtery said he’d like to support Mayor Nutter in next year’s mayor’s race, but has some labor issues with him. Dougherty is very close to City Councilman Bill Green, who’s said he’s thinking about challenging Nutter. I ran into Green outside a reception for the Blank Rome law firm and asked if he could tell me definitively if he would run for mayor.

    “No,” he said, then after a pause, “No, I’m not going to tell you.”

    Other political morsels:

    – Joe Grace, once communications director for Mayor John Street and currently executive director of the gun-control group CeaseFire Pa says he will run for City Council next year against Frank DiCicco, who represents South Philadelphia, Center City and some river wards.

    – Local 98 political director Bob Henan says he’s likely to run for City Council at large.

    – I heard from more than one pol that former State House Speaker Dennis O’Brien would give up his Northeast Philly  legislative seat to run for a Republican City Council at-large seat. Couldn’t find O’Brien to ask him.


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