The former Speaker of the Pennsylvania House is in the race of his political career.
Most politicians who face corruption charges quietly retire from public life to fight their legal battles. A Northeast Philadelphia legislator is taking some serious bruising after deciding to run for re-election while under indictment.
John Perzel isn’t just a 32-year legislator. He’s a former Speaker of the Pennsylvania House who once eyed the governor’s mansion. When he decided to seek re-election despite being charged with corruption, he knew he was in for a rough ride.
Announcer: John Perzel – arrested for committing 82 separate crimes. Voter: I’ve always voted for John Perzel, but not anymore.
Announcer: Perzel’s crimes include theft, corruption, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Voter: He’s out on bail and still trying to get re-elected? Give me a break.
That’s the cable TV ad run by Perzel’s Democratic opponent, Kevin Boyle. The message is being reinforced by direct mail as well
So far Perzel hasn’t produced much of a media effort. Neither he nor his campaign returned calls for comment. But Republican ward leader Chris Vogler says Perzel is telling constituents he’s done at lot for them over the years..
“John has been out, aggressively campaigning, going door to door, as he has done as representative of this district for a long time, and the response that we’re getting door to door is very positive.”
It helps that Perzel’s bizarrely-shaped district is tailored to maximize his support, and he’s known as a tough and relentless campaigner.
But money counts, and state democrats are investing heavily in his defeat. What about the GOP? Dave Reed heads the Republican House Campaign Committee.
“You know I think John a long time ago became a very independent operator of the Republican committee, and he’s always been able to fund his own races and run his own grass roots organizations”
Translation? Perzel is pretty much on his own.