I have a few things of local note to discuss. The top of the list is the upset victory by my longtime acquaintance and fellow progressive Philly blogging compatriot Chris Rabb, who is now the Democratic nominee to represent Pennsylvania’s 200th congressional district in the state House. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Chris. If you didn’t see it, his campaign made national news because of it’s involvement with a terrible tragedy on Sunday:
Alex Cherry chatted with Chris Rabb, a Democratic candidate for a seat in the Pennsylvania State House, on Sunday, saying he planned to work the polls in the upcoming election.
Impressed, Rabb and a volunteer encouraged the 21-year-old to join the campaign, Rabb said later in a statement.
“He was enthusiastic about the political process,” Rabb said.
Then, as Cherry was still speaking with the campaign worker, a man came up behind the 21-year-old and shot him in the head, according to Philadelphia Police.
The shooter “walked up and deliberately shot someone with every intent of killing,” said Police Commissioner Richard Ross, WPVI reported.
After shooting Cherry once, the suspect walked away for a moment and then returned to shoot Cherry twice more, according to police.
Cherry died while holding a piece of campaign literature, Rabb campaign manager Chris Visco told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the shooting. Sunday night, a friend of Alex Cherry was also shot and killed.
Police say another shooting that took place hours later may be connected to Cherry’s killing. Just blocks away, witnesses told police that someone got out of a red SUV and shot into a crowd. One of those shots hit Elijah Frazier, 18, who ran into a Chinese take-out restaurant with a fatal gunshot wound, police said.
Frazier was taken to a local hospital, where he died. A bullet also grazed the head of a 17-year-old, police said.
Both Frazier and Cherry were friends who belonged to a group that had an ongoing dispute with another group, Philadelphia’s Homicide Capt. James Clark told reporters Monday, AP reported.
There was nothing particularly unusual about these shootings–they are as regular as the rain in these neighborhoods of Philadelphia. But this is the first time, I think, someone has been shot and killed while discussing a political campaign with a candidate and a campaign volunteer.
In other news, State Rep. Mark Cohen, who is my Facebook friend but less of an acquaintance than someone whose path crosses mine from time to time, was unexpectedly defeated by a complete upstart- a community organizer named Jared Solomon. I know nothing about Solomon, but Cohen has served in the Pennsylvania House since 1974, making him the longest-serving member in Harrisburg. He’s also the son of legendary Philadelphia city councilmember David Cohen who served in that capacity in the late-1960’s and then uninterrupted from 1980 until his death in 2005. As you can imagine, this election result is pretty big news in the City of Brotherly Love and even statewide.
Another guy I’ve crossed paths with several times over the years is Dwight Evans. State Rep. Evans has been in the state House of Representatives since 1981 serving the 203rd District. He’s attempted to get a more prominent job several times, running for mayor twice, for lieutenant governor once, and also running for governor in 1994. Last night he essentially became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives by defeating Rep. Chaka Fattah in the Democratic primary. This was a blow to Rep. Bob Brady who stuck his neck out for Fattah despite the fact that Fattah is going on trial in mid-May for “racketeering, conspiracy, bribery, money laundering and bank fraud.”
It was a victory for Gov. Tom Wolf and Mayor Jim Kenney, who both endorsed Evans.
To make things a little more interesting, Dwight Evans was not pleased to see Chris Rabb win.
Evans and [former City Councilwoman Marian] Tasco are leaders of the Northwest Coalition, an alliance of African-American politicians. The fact that Evans won the primary election is significant because it solidifies the coalition’s position as one of the most powerful political factions in Philadelphia. The group also counts Councilman Derek Green and Councilwoman Cherelle Parker on its team. Today, the coalition’s official Election Day lunch spot, Relish, drew bigger crowds than Famous 4th Street Deli, the power crowd’s traditional electoral lunch hangout.
The only dark cloud on the day for the Northwest Coalition was Chris Rabb’s defeat of Tonyelle Cook-Artis in the 200th District state House race. “Obviously, I’m disappointed that she did not win,” said Evans of Cook-Artis’ loss.
Presumably, once Evans gets a little accustomed to Capitol Hill, he will worry himself much less about who serves in Harrisburg.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton came close to winning every ward in Philadelphia as part of a strong statewide victory. Clinton also dominated in the suburban ring counties of Philadelphia. In my own swing county (Chester), Clinton got 33,000 votes and Trump got about 35,000. Sighting actual Trump voters at the polls in my traditionally moderate Republican area was certainly disheartening and not a little disturbing.
The last bit of big news out of the Keystone State last night was the relatively easy victory Katie McGinty enjoyed over Joe Sestak and John Fetterman. She should probably be favored to unseat Sen. Pat Toomey, but she’s never run a successful political campaign before, so it remains to be seen how she performs on the campaign trail. If Hillary Clinton is winning Pennsylvania big at the top of the ticket, it’s going to be hard for Toomey to split off enough votes to get reelected, and the Democratic strategists believe that Clinton and McGinty will complement each other and amplify each other’s strengths and demographic appeal to suburban women who have a very low opinion of Donald Trump. McGinty was pushed by Democratic Party bigwigs who have a strained relationship with former congressman Sestak. President Obama even endorsed her, as well as Attorney General candidate Josh Shapiro, who also won.
So, overall, it was a mixed night for the Philly-area Democrats with an interesting set of winners and losers.