While the presidential contest is making headlines, there’s a donnybrook of a legislative race in far northeast Philadelphia over whether the Republican party will keep a beachhead it captured in heavily-Democratic Philadelphia.
For years, Republican John Taylor was the GOP’s only member of the city’s Harrisburg delegation.
But last year, a feud among Democrats helped Martina White, then a 26-year old financial analyst, capture a another seat for the Republicans.
She’s been an state representative, pushing legislation to ban Philadelphia’s so-called “sanctuary city” policy of not routinely honoring detainer requests from immigration authorities.
When Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey held a news conference on the issue in August, White was at his side, a measure of the party’s investment in building her stature and hopefully winning her re-election.
And in this cornerHer Democratic opponent is 31 year-old Matt Darragh, a regional manager in the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s office.
I asked him what he would say to those who argue Philadelphia would do better in Harrisburg with a few Republicans like White, who had the ear of Republican leaders who dominate the legislature in Harrisburg.
“Republicans in Harrisburg don’t really have a lot of regard for Philadelphia,” Darragh said, “and while Representative White and Representative Taylor might be a voice in the room, if you watch the track record, you see what this caucus’s agenda is – they’re anti-labor, they’re anti-choice, they’re anti Philadelphia, and they’re certainly anti-public education.”
Representative White didn’t return my call last week.
Her mailings and ads associate Darragh with the sanctuary city policy, and with a host of Democratic politicians who’ve been convicted on corruption charges. Darragh says that’s unfair, that he has nothing to do with those officials.
Democrats have a big registration edge in the district. Both candidates have some labor backing and funding from the state parties. This will be one to watch on Election Day.