Getting On Our Soapbox

Recommendations for the 2016 Primary

Tuesday, April 26th is Election Day in Pennsylvania. This election is exciting because we have a competitive Democratic Primary Election at the top of the ticket between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but we also have several other important contested races up for election too. The polls are open from 7AM to 8PM. If you live in Philadelphia, and you are not sure where to vote, you can find your polling place by clicking here.

As I do each election cycle, I have put down my thoughts on the election below to be used as a guide for any of my friends looking for advice on who to vote for. Feel free to pull this up on your smartphone in the polling booth to guide you in your voting, or ignore it and vote for whoever you want. Just make me a promise that you’ll vote.

This election cycle we choose the Democratic nominees for President, United States Senator, Attorney General, Auditor General, State Treasurer, members of Congress, State Senator in odd numbered districts, and State Representative.


Hillary Clinton (#1) – If you have spent any time on my Facebook feed, I'm pretty sure you know I am a Hillary Clinton supporter. I could probably more accurately be described as a Hillary Clinton Fanboy. I literally love Hillary Clinton, and am so excited about the prospect of her being our President and Commander In Chief. Hillary has a long history as a progressive activist fighting for the kinds of things most liberals like myself care about. Hillary will fight to break down all the barriers that have thwarted broader economic and social justice. She is easily one of the most qualified persons to ever run for President, and on top of that, she would make history by becoming the first woman to hold that office. I don't ask you to vote for her because she is a woman. But I am excited that we can once again make history electing the best person for the office.


Katie McGinty (#7) — A Philadelphia native, Katie McGinty has a long record of working to protect the environment, having served as head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality in the Clinton Administration and as the head of the PA Department of Environmental Protection under Governor Rendell. Katie will work to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, eliminate unfair tax loopholes that allow American jobs to be sent overseas, and help to grow clean energy jobs in the United States. With a vast array of support from President Obama to Governor Wolf to Mayor Kenney, Katie is best positioned to unite the Democratic Party and beat Pat Toomey in the fall. 


Stephen Zappala (#10) — I'm voting for Steve Zappala for Attorney General. Zappala is serving his 5th term as District Attorney of Allegheny County, where he created dedicated prosecution units that targeted crimes such as child and elder abuse, domestic violence, auto theft, and insurance fraud, and helped to create Veterans Court. He helped create a drug court where drug addiction was treated as public health issue rather than a crime. Zappala has a strong record of fighting public corruption, successfully prosecuting a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, two Pennsylvania legislators, an Allegheny County Council member, several police officers, and other local officials. He possesses the prosecutorial experience, management skills, and sound judgment that the Attorney General position requires. His leading competitor, Josh Shapiro, on the other hand, has zero experience as a prosecutor, and is simply running for this office as a launch pad for a future run for governor. More troubling, Josh has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from a PAC that advocates for school vouchers and charter schools at the expense of properly funded public schools. 


District 1: Bob Brady (#13) — If you live east of Broad Street, you are likely in the 1st District.  Bob Brady is the Chairman of the Democratic Party and is running unopposed.  He deserves your vote. 

District 2: No Recommendation — This is a very difficult decision for me, and I am thankful that I do not live in the district and do not need to make it. This district is basically most of Philadelphia west of Broad Street, and the incumbent is Congressman Chaka Fattah. In the past, I have been a very vocal supporter of Congressman Fattah, who has dedicated his life to providing access to quality education to children in Philadelphia, understanding that good education is the best way to pull people out of poverty. I worked for his campaign when he ran for Mayor, because I believed that core philosophy could help reduce poverty across the city. I still believe his message, and am proud of the work he has done. But the congressman has been indicted on corruption charges, and while I strongly believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty, I had hoped that he would save his district from the ugliness that will ensue when his trial begins in just a few days after today's election. And for various reasons, I do not think any of his challengers are worth recommending. The leading challenger, Dwight Evans, is certainly qualified to serve in Congress after spending decades representing parts of Philadelphia in the state legislature. But as a leading proponent of school vouchers and privatization, I cannot bring myself to recommending we replace the "Education Congressman" with the "Voucher Representative." Also running is my friend Dan Muroff, who is a good progressive that would make a good Congressman, if only he were running in a different district. The 2nd Congressional District is the only majority African-American District in the State of Pennsylvania, and if it were to elect a white man in that seat, that means the entire Pennsylvania Delegation would be made up of white men. I value diversity in our government, and I feel very strongly that this district should elect a person of color.


1st District: Larry Farnese (#17) – If you live in South Philly, Center City, Fishtown, or Port Richmond, you live in the First Senatorial District.  Larry first won office 8 years ago when he beat a man I admire very much, someone whose campaign I worked on very hard -- John Dougherty.  But I have gotten to work with Larry since he has been Senator and I have come to respect him as an elected official, and I plan on voting for him tomorrow.

3rd District: Sharif Street (#17) – The Third District is made up of neighborhoods in North Philly and is currently represented by Senator Shirley Kitchen. Senator Kitchen is retiring and has endorsed my friend Sharif Street. Sharif is running unopposed, but I encourage everyone who lives in his district to vote for him. He is smart, energetic, and progressive. I expect great things from him, and am so happy he will be able to continue his lifelong community activism as an elected official.

5th District: Kevin Boyle (#18) – If you live in NE Philly, you probably are aware of the epic State Senate battle between to well known political names in Philly. I am on #TeamBoyle and encourage you to vote for him if you're in his district.


175th District: Mike O’Brien (#20) – Mike is my State Representative. He is a friend and a mentor.  He is one of the great old school liberals in Harrisburg and makes it his mission to stand up to his colleagues on the far right, which are all to prevalent in Harrisburg. He is also one of the main reasons that the John C. Anderson LGBT Apartments is standing today. He helped bring home $6 million in state funds for the construction of the project, and today, there are over 60 grateful LGBT and allied seniors living with dignity in a fabulous new building. He is facing a challenger, so please vote for Mike.

182nd District: Ben Waxman (#20) – Ben is a friend of mine. He is a well respected progressive activist with a real record fighting for women's rights, workers rights, voting rights, and LGBT rights. 

186th District: Jordan Harris (#19) – Jordan is another person I am proud to call a friend. While he is running unopposed, he is an exciting rising star in Democratic politics. If you live in the 186th, Jordan deserves your vote.

191st District: Joanna McClinton (#19) – Joanna McClinton was just elected to the state house last fall in a special election. Another rising star in Philadelphia politics, she is an advocate for reforming the criminal justice system and deserves to be elected to her first full term. 

194th District: Sean Stevens– Sean is running against incumbent Pam Delissio. Pam is heavily criticized by residents of her district for not being involved in the community. She lives full time in Harrisburg, and suffered a bit of a scandal during her last campaign when she was almost knocked off the ballot when it was reported she had her car registered in Harrisburg and listed her Harrisburg home as her primary address to pay less in taxes and insurance premiums. She also scored a measly 33% on Liberty City’s LGBT Issue Scorecard. Sean is well known in his community and would make a great State Representative.

195th District: Donna Bullock (#19) – Like Joanna McClinton, Donna Bullock was elected to the General Assembly in a special election last year. She is running for re-election to her first full term. She is an accomplished progressive activist who is highly respected. She deserves to be re-elected.

202nd District: Mark Cohen (#20) – Mark is the longest serving member of the State House of Representatives, and has a strong record as a leader on liberal causes. He is right on all the issues, and is one of the most thoughtful and hardest working legislator in Harrisburg. He deserves to be re-elected.

Tags: elections, democrats