Republicans gone wild – debates at WHYY

    I had the honor of moderating a debate last night hosted by WHYY, NewsWorks, the League of Women Voters and other media partners among seven City Council-at-large candidates.

    But the real fun of the evening here at WHYY was the exchange that followed among three candidates for city commissioner.

    There’s a cage match between two Republicans for the one minority slot on the three-member commission that runs elections in the city. Joe Duda, the aging Republican leader of the 66th ward in Northeast Philadelphia, is feeling heat from Al Schmidt, a younger challenger who speaks the language of reform.

    (Schmidt’s message has resonance this year, because the ageless Democratic chair of the commission, Marge Tartaglione was defeated in the primaryafter her daughter had to resign from a deputy commissioner’s post following ethics charges.)

    In the audio excerpt above, Duda and Schmidt are discussing a mundane but important topic: the low pay given to neighborhood poll workers. All the candidates say they want funding to increase the stipend and ensure a steady cadre of reliable election workers.

    Duda is trying to explain why they should ask for federal funds, while Schmidt pipes up with his guys-like-you-have-screwed-the-place-up message. Duda come back at him, sounding like a cranky grandpa trying to put a smart-alec college kid in his place.

    It’s fun, but substantive, too.

    The Council debate is a bit of a blur, but I remember Michael Untermeyer (a Republican) saying the city should subsidize the salaries of any new hires by private employers in the city; David Oh trying the explain his military record and getting everybody even more confused than when he started; Bill Green telling me the premise of my question was wrong; Blondell Reynolds Brown and Al Taubenberger apologizing for failing to report some campaign contributions last spring; Joe McColgan saying we should encourage Comcast to build a movie studio; and Dennis O’Brien flashing the smile of a candidate who doesn’t think he has much to worry about.

    We hope to get the audio of both debates up on NewsWorks soon.

    UPDATE: The audio of the debates is now available on Newsworks, with a couple of gaps. The Council-at-large debate is here.  The commissioners’ debate is here.

    And this development: Republican mayoral candidate Karen Brown told me yesterday she now has a TV ad, which aired on Channel 10 as part of the station’s make-up to her for hosting a televised town hall with her opponent, Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter.

    UPDATE: Karen Brown’s TV ad finally arrived. Watch it here.

    I’d like to show you the ad, but Brown’s campaign manager didn’t deliver the DVD she promised yesterday. A Philadelphia Republican mayoral campaign isn’t exactly a well-oiled machine.

    And a Democrat who lives in Old City reports she got a robo-call from Brown yesterday, saying she represents an alternative to Mayor Nutter.

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