Knives come out in Philly’s Republican Council race

    A political committee associated with electricians’ union chief John Dougherty has sent a mailing attacking Republican City Council candidate David Oh, I’m told by multiple sources.

    It’s probably been a long time since anybody cared this much about the race for the two City Council-at-large seats reserved by the city charter for minority parties.

    The race is different this time for two reasons:


    (1) The two seats are open, due to a retirement (Jack Kelly) and a DROP-driven primary defeat (Frank Rizzo).

    (2) These normally cloutless Republicans could determine who becomes City Council president in January, a vote which will influence everything from who gets the big Council offices to whether Mayor Nutter has a successful second term.

    I suspect it’s the Council presidency that has Dougherty’s attention. It’s generally understood in the political world that Dougherty favors Councilman Darrell Clarke for Council president.

    Others, including Mayor Nutter, back Councilwoman Marian Tasco.

    The president will be chosen by the 17 incoming Council members in January, and in a close race like this, the two new at-large Republicans might hold the balance.

    David Oh is a Republican who’s made two runs at office before. He’s built a following among progressive Democrats, and waged such an energetic and well-funded effort that he led all Republican contenders in the spring primary.

    But he was bruised by stories in the Daily News – some raising the idea that he may have exaggerated his military record by claiming at times he was a green beret, and another about an incident in which he waved a gun at some neighborhood thugs.

    The military record stuff gets pretty subtle – Oh was assigned to a special forces unit before the first Iraq war and was properly issued a green beret, but never completed the training course to be full special forces officer.

    I’m not sure this amounts to much, and this piece by the City Paper’s Isaiah Thompson adds some interesting context.

    In any case, his rivals have smelled blood, and Republican Council candidate Al Taubenberger has sent a negative mailing about Oh on the military issue and an issue involving what Taubenberger says was a nuisance bar in the northeast.

    And perhaps because many believe Oh would support Tasco for president, a hard-hitting mailer attacking him has appeared, paid for by Philadelphia Phuture, a political committee long associated with Dougherty.

    I reached out to Dougherty’s spokesman late today. No response yet.

    When I got Oh on the phone, he didn’t have much to say about the mailer.

    “I’m aware of it,” Oh said. “I think all the time and money spent on negative campaigning would be better spent researching the issues. I plan to continue to run a positive campaign on the issues facing our city.”

    You can hear a bit of audio from each of the five Republican at-large candidates in the piece I did for Newsworks Tonight by playing the audio above.

    And can hear most of the debate I moderated among the five Republican and two Democratic Council-at-large candidates here.

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