Bob Brady

1st congressional district has the most dramatic change in racial composition of any of the state's 19 congressional districts

Thanks to Azavea, the web-based software design firm that developed the Redistricting the Nation project, we now have the demographics of the old and new Pennsylvania congressional districts.

The first congressional district, represented by Bob Brady, has the most dramatic change in racial composition of any of the state's 19 congressional districts. Brady's district is currently 31.8% White and 48.0% black. His new district will be 46.9% white and 35.5% black. (The Asian and Latino percentages have changed very little.)

Across the state, most of the changes in racial composition were relatively small—generally no more than a few percentage points. The only other district which had significant change was the 14th congressional district, which contains the entire city of Pittsburgh. In the 14th, the percentage of white voters was 69.4% % in the old district, 77.37% in the new; the percentage of black voters was 24.5% in the old district, 16.53% in the new. The shift in racial composition in the 14th is not as dramatic as in the first congressional district and it does not change the racial dynamics of the race. The 14th district was and remains a district which favors the election of a white candidate. The first district has gone from a district which was very favorable terrain for a black candidate to one in which a black candidate would be significantly less competitive.

News reports suggested that Brady may have had something to do with this. Cris Brennan reported in the Daily News on 8/20/11:

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee in Philadelphia, says that one hot rumor circulating in Harrisburg about his 1st Congressional District is way off the mark.

Will Chaka Fattah Stand Tough? Where is Bob Brady?

By now, everybody has seen that the Obama administration is wilting under pressure, and sending signals that the public option is not essential to health care reform. The whole thing is shameful. People like Sarah Palin say ridiculous things, stir up the crazies, and as a result, we pull back on a once in a generation opportunity to give every single American decent health care? Instead, with a mandate to buy insurance still likely, and with runaway premiums that will keep rising, we will have a Barack Obama mandated transfer of wealth from middle and working class American’s straight to the pockets of insurance companies. Again, shameful. This is not why we elected these people, and if at this unique time in history they cannot stand tough, when will they ever?

Which brings me to the last, best hope for real health care reform this generation: two Philadelphia Congressmen from West Philly, Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady.

Fattah is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and as such, he signed a letter to the President demanding that a public option be included in the healthcare bill. At this point, there are around 60 members of Congress who have demanded the same thing. They have said that if the President is more concerned with being “bipartisan” with a group of people who have zero intention of ever voting for a health care bill, rather than actually making sure we have a good bill, that the CPC will stop this thing dead in its tracks. The CPC is known for perpetually being rolled by Democrats, who demand that they ‘play ball’ as law after law is weakened. Well, now, they have decided to make a stand. And standing with them is our own Congressman Fattah.

If you are a constituent of Rep. Fattah, call him, and tell him that in the next couple of months, his legacy will be made. Will he and the CPC fundamentally change the power structure in our country? Or will they give in?

And then there is Congressman Brady, who has been largely absent from this debate. Is there a single issue that should be more important to Philadelphia than this? Either we get this right, right now, or we lose our chance for 20 or 30 years. Rep. Brady easily has more than 100,000 people in his district right now who are uninsured. It is time that he held the line, too, and told the President that there is no deal with no public option to keep insurance companies honest.

Over the next few months, the legacy of these men stands in the balance.

Campaign Roundup

1) In the race for Controller, Brett Mandel picks up some institutional support:

Upstart candidate Brett Mandel announced yesterday that he has the backing of four local elected officials in his uphill campaign to unseat Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

State Sen. Larry Farnese, State Reps. Tony Payton and Kathy Manderino, and City Councilman Frank DiCicco, Mandel said, are backing him in the May 19 Democratic primary.

The endorsements from the four Democrats are significant in that Mandel's candidacy is tantamount to taking on the political establishment.

Butkovitz, elected controller in 2005, is a ward leader who as an incumbent is virtually guaranteed the backing of the Democratic City Committee.

He's also an ally of Local 98 of the electricians union, which has access to a wealth of political funds and election-day foot soldiers.

2) Seth Williams' appeal will be heard this morning:

Argument scheduled for 4/8/09 @ 11:00a.m. (Panel) in the En Banc Crtrm. No. 1, 9th Fl., Widner Bldg. 1339 Chestnut St., One S. Penn Sq., Phila.

3) Bob Brady is putting some serious discipline on the party's judicial selection process. It has thus far meant that a really good candidate- Leon King- has withdrawn, in hopes of getting a party endorsement in the future.

If Brady wants to enforce discipline, all the power to him. The ridiculous process of 'consultants' like John Sabatina and the late Carol Campbell earning tens of thousands of dollars for judicial elections is ridiculous. It forces more and more money into a system that shouldn't have money in it begin with.

However, if he is serious about this level party discipline, and it will basically mean an automatic win for a judge, he should also be totally open and clear about the process by which people get the endorsement of the party, and it should be a much higher standard than "servicing the party."

Little known fact: a Black Republican is running against Bob Brady in the general election.

http://www.mikemuhammad.com/index.html

I invite you to check out the campaign website however way you want, but I want to make sure you catch:

- the quotes of Jay-Z, Oprah, Chris Matthews, JFK, and more, on the right-hand column of the site (headed by a quote from Mr. Muhammad himself, which seems to be inadvertently self-compromising)
- a huge 50 Cent quote adorning the middle of his "Contact Us" section
- in the "Campaign" section, there's a picture of the Statue of Liberty underneath a title reading "The Best Place in Philadelphia"
- in the "Photos" section, a Myspace-esque self-taken portrait in front of the DA's office

Enjoy!

Demerits to the VA, + kudos to Bob Brady

http://www.philly.com/dailynews/local/20080726_VA_getting_heat_over_poli...

In short, VA policy forbids voter registration drives in VA facilities. US Rep. Bob Brady, among others, objects to this, as it can potentially disenfranchise the very people who have given the most to serve our country. Much praise to Brady for taking a stand here.

-Z

Yo Bob Brady: Help us End the Presidential Contest

As the Democratic contest continues on, the media has finally picked up on a simple fact: that apart from an absolute avalanche of super delegates supporting her (which will not happen), Hillary Clinton cannot win this nomination. So, while she sends around NRA-like mailings against Obama (oh, the irony), we wait for the inevitable to become clear.

One of the remaining undeclared super delegates- Bob Brady- has to my knowledge not officially announced he is voting for Obama. He did announce, however, he would support who the voters of his district supported. That was Obama, by a wide margin.

So, Rep. Brady, get going. You know all about healing political parties, right? It is time to come out for Senator Obama officially, and start that process before it is too late.

Street Money: Obama and Philadelphia

The LA Times has a story about the Obama campaign's refusal to hand out street money to Philadelphia ward leaders to work the upcoming primary:

"We've heard directly from the Obama organizer who organizes our ward, and he told us it's an entirely volunteer organization and that I should not expect to see anything from the Obama campaign other than ads on TV and the support that volunteers are giving us," said Greg Paulmier, a ward leader in the northwest part of the city.

Neither the Clinton nor the Obama campaign would say publicly whether it would comply with Philadelphia's street money customs. But an Obama aide said Thursday that it had never been the campaign's practice to make such payments. Rather, the campaign's focus is to recruit new people drawn to Obama's message, the aide said.

The article also includes quotes from Carol Campbell, Dwight Evans, and ward leaders Peter Wilson and Garry Williams. It also includes this great anecdote about Bob Brady:

Brady was sitting in his campaign office with two of his political lieutenants. He reached into a desk drawer at one point and pulled out a $50 bill -- street money. Brady tore it in two and gave each man a half. Then the men made a bet: Whoever pulled in the most Democratic votes that day from his precincts would get both halves.

Local color aside, this is a hard issue. On the one hand, it's problematic that political loyalties seem to be for sale to whichever campaign can pony up the cash (several people say that if ward leaders don't get money from Obama, they'll take it from Clinton). On the other hand, if Obama's going to cut into Clinton's lead in Pennsylvania, he's going to need a strong showing in Philadelphia. Obama's campaign is rich as Croesus, and coming from Chicago, he knows how this process works.

It's also unclear exactly what Obama gets by standing on principle. Maybe the Clinton campaign could try to play Philadelphia off against the rest of the state if they could claim that Obama had "bought" city support. But in a big campaign like this, obscure issues like street money only have so much traction. Another alternative is that the combination of volunteers, an alternative GOTV operation, and the support of political leaders who have already endorsed Obama will be able to get the deed done.

It's possible that intentionally or not, the Obama campaign is testing a theory: is it possible to win in Philadelphia with a combination of big ad buys and all-volunteer support?

One thing is clear: the fact that the Obama campaign has chosen to forego the traditional methods of getting out the vote in the city creates both a need and an opportunity. The need is for supporters of the Obama campaign to get out and volunteer. The opportunity is for alternative organizations who support Obama, including progressive ones, to show what they can do on the national stage.

Tommy Blackwell Knocked off of the Ballot

Dear Bob Brady and Jannie Blackwell,

Each you have had some experience with petition challenges. And, I would like to talk to you briefly about them for a moment.

Congressman Brady, you should have been knocked off the ballot last year when you made multiple errors in your campaign filings for Mayor, especially given the precedent that was set in previous technical challenges. But, you had great lawyers, and you are a powerful guy, so you stayed on the ballot. However, instead of seeing the hundreds of thousands of bucks in legal fees you racked up, as well as the ridiculous idea that you weren't going to be able to run for Mayor because you screwed up something inconsequential as two ridiculous examples of a system in disarray, you apparently decided to have your lawyers sue the ethics board... Great. Yes we can!

Councilwoman Blackwell, your step-son Tommy was kicked off the ballot today (read about it in the paper tomorrow) for State Rep, because it was found that he only had 184 valid signatures. Vanessa Brown is your new State Representative. All of that work, and without an election, his career has at least been temporarily ended. Doesn't that sort of suck?

Obviously, there is a little bit of difference in going after someone for a pure technical error versus bad signatures. But the bottom line is that it is now clear that even the party's preferred candidates seem to be having some serious problems keeping themselves on the ballot.

So, Councilwoman Blackwell, Congressman Brady, what do you say? Are you ready to figure out some ways to push for sensible changes, so that this type of thing doesn't keep happening?

Nutter answer questions about party reform. Sort of.

Last week, Michael Nutter submitted, and the Inky Ed Board printed, an op-ed defending Congressman Bob Brady as both a Congressman and the leader of the party. The Mayor-elect said that:

Brady and I have had many discussions about the need to change the way we do business in Philadelphia. I believe he supports my agenda for reform in city government and the Democratic Party.

A lot of us wondered what exactly that latter part--about the party--meant. Today's Inky includes a brief attempt by Patrick Kerkstra to get Nutter to clarify on what he meant:

Asked what specific reforms he'd like to see, Nutter said the party ought to have an open process for choosing which candidates to support. He also proposed training for would-be candidates, stepped-up recruiting of candidates and committee members, and a guest speaker program. Asked about the shakedown that judicial candidates are subjected to by some ward leaders, Nutter said he'd prefer that judges not be elected.

"These are the kinds of issues I intend to have discussions with the chairman about," Nutter said.

Compare that to this list of reforms that some of us have been pushing directly with the party chair ourselves:

  1. Will the party change the unfair special election process so that individual voters have some say?
  2. Will every ward leader in the party commit to holding open ward meetings, where anyone can watch and ask questions?

  • Will the party chair convene an annual platform convention so that all members of the party can share their ideas for the policies and laws that party-endorsed candidates will push?

  • Will every committee person in the city commit to canvassing their division every election, making at least three attempts to have face-to-face contact with a voter?

  • Will the party chair lay out appropriate and inappropriate ways for ward leaders to handle "street money" to stop the shaking down of candidates, especially judges, for office?

    Nutter's reply to Kerkstra was given on-the-go at the Pennsylvania Society in New York. Nutter also said:

    Reforming the party is a priority for me, and I don't think people should try to read any tea leaves or read too much into the letter.

    I certainly agree.

    There wasn't much in his letter to read into. I hope when he returns from New York he will clarify once and for all which progressive reforms to the party he supports and which he doesn't. If he has been speaking with Congressman Brady about making these changes, it would be interesting to hear the process and time line for implementation they have come up with.

    If their conversations have been more general, then I wonder when Nutter plans to prioritize having a more detailed one, and if he will seek the input of others--like those of us who have already outlined ideas for party reform.

    Towards an ethical government

    I was, and still am pissed off that in one week, Mike Nutter decided to get rid of Seth Williams and then to write a (factually wrong, oddly written) op-ed that came out swinging for Bob Brady, without actually telling us what these so-called party reforms are.

    That said...

    My disappointment aside, I do think the appointments that Nutter made- of three US Attorneys to work within the City Government, are a good thing and represent that we have started to make some progress as to what we expect as a City. To take three US Attorneys who specifically prosecuted corruption, and to bring them inside City Hall is a big deal. The office, which Seth turned into something real, as well as feared and respected, is going to have even more prominence under Nutter. John Street, in a great move, appointed Seth to that office. It was a contrast to a Mayor, who, while not personally corrupt, did nothing to stop a culture around him that led to indictments and convictions within his administration. I am confident that type of thing wont happen in our new administration.

    It is a good sign that people from the US Attorneys office- corruption prosecution is not an easy gig to get- are willing to dive into City Hall. Additionally, as they continue to work, they will hopefully identify for us just how much corruption actually exists in the City, and give the average citizen the idea that City government is working for all of us.

    Paging Michael Nutter

    Hello Mayor-elect Nutter!

    A number of us have been agitating and organizing--both online and off--to make changes in the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee. Congressman Brady, the party chair, has been responsive to this effort, but actual negotiations are still a far-off dream.

    That's why I was very interested to see your op-ed to the Inky in which you referenced talks you have been having with the Chairman.

    Many of us are really curious to know what your agenda for reforming the party is. Here's ours:

    1. Will the party change the unfair special election process so that individual voters have some say?
    2. Will every ward leader in the party commit to holding open ward meetings, where anyone can watch and ask questions?

  • Will the party chair convene an annual platform convention so that all members of the party can share their ideas for the policies and laws that party-endorsed candidates will push?

  • Will every committee person in the city commit to canvassing their division every election, making at least three attempts to have face-to-face contact with a voter?

  • Will the party chair lay out appropriate and inappropriate ways for ward leaders to handle "street money" to stop the shaking down of candidates, especially judges, for office?

    I am a life-long Democrat, and there is a lot to love about our local party, but there are also some things that need to be changed.

    I hope our agendas for reforming the party overlap.

    Please feel free to send an email in reply to info AT youngphillypolitics.com, or better yet post a blog entry. Unlike Chaka Fattah, Dwight Evans and Bob Brady, you don't have a user account here, but trust me, it's very easy to set up. And if you have any trouble, email and I will be more than willing to help.

    Let's make this simple: what is Michael Nutter's agenda for party reform?

    The endorsement of Brady for Congress in Michael Nutter's Inky op-ed yesterday wasn't strange, but this was:

    I want to outline why I think Brady is an important asset to my new administration. Both as a member of Congress and as head of the city's Democratic Party...Brady and I have had many discussions about the need to change the way we do business in Philadelphia. I believe he supports my agenda for reform in city government and the Democratic Party.

    Practically, I understand why a Democratic Mayor would want to forge a relationship with the Democratic Party chair, but if that is the road Nutter is going down, then he needs to answer the same specific questions that have been asked of Brady about reforming the party.

    Here's my attempt at boiling down some of the concerns into a simple agenda for Philadelphia Democratic Party reform:

    1. Will the party change the unfair special election process so that individual voters have some say?
    2. Will every ward leader in the party commit to holding open ward meetings, where anyone can watch and ask questions?

  • Will the party chair convene an annual platform convention so that all members of the party can share their ideas for the policies and laws that party-endorsed candidates will push?

  • Will every committee person in the city commit to canvassing their division every election, making at least three attempts to have face-to-face contact with a voter?

  • Will the party chair lay out appropriate and inappropriate ways for ward leaders to handle "street money" to stop the shaking down of candidates, especially judges, for office?

    Bob Brady is an interesting guy. I don't know him super well, but I like him.

    Bob Brady has not, however, committed to an agenda for reforming what some of us perceive to be the problems in the Democratic party.

    Brady did meet with some of us "progressives" last year to discuss this. As Clout reported:

    The gripes? Unresponsive committeemen. Corrupt judicial elections. Undemocratic selection to fill City Council vacancies. Weak voter-turnout efforts. Patronage. Nepotism. Politics as usual...

    "Bob went by himself into this group of 20 people, about 10 of whom had real issues with him," said Hannah Miller of Philly for Change. "He sat there and took it. I have nothing but respect for the man. "

    "He was kind of in the hot seat," said Jen Murphy, chairwoman of Philly for Change. "It's the start of a conversation. "

    Ray Murphy of Philadelphians Against Santorum said, "I think Bob Brady is a nice guy. I had a good time, but that doesn't change what a lot of us are doing. "

    Marc Stier of Neighborhood Networks gushed on his blog: "Congressman Brady was charming, articulate, incredibly quick on his feet and well prepared. "

    Our breakfast was fun, but nothing was really resolved. Brady has indicated that he is open to talking again, but for whatever reason, nothing has happened yet.

    That's why it is exciting that Mayor-elect Nutter says that he has been talking to Chairman Brady about reforms in the party. But why the secrecy about it?

    Nutter does not say what reforms he is suggesting they are nor can they be found on his website.

    I hope Mayor-elect Nutter is willing to take on the agenda for party reform above and share with us his plans too. The people listed above by no means lead the city or even the “movement.” However, the concerns we articulated to Brady last year, that I attempt to capture above, are real, and they affect a majority of Philadelphia voters.

    Crickets

    From Michael Nutter's letter to the editor Op-Ed in the Inquirer discussed below:

    The call for new blood in politics is one that I support. As the cartoon indicated, however, the city's other elected officials are also important. I want to outline why I think Brady is an important asset to my new administration. Both as a member of Congress and as head of the city's Democratic Party, he will be an important partner in the "New Day, New Way" agenda I have established for Philadelphia. Let me give you four reasons:

    So, Mike Nutter unequivocally states that Brady has his support, not just in Congress, but in the party. You know, the party that does those 'special elections' and is oh-so-responsive to outsiders. Sort of hints that structurally, not a whole lot will be changing within the party, right? The same guy is in charge. Game. Over.

    He says Brady supports his proposals for reform in the Democratic party... What are they? Seriously? Does anyone know?

    .....

    Here is the thing, I like Bob Brady. As Louie says every time he hears Brady on CSpan (yes we are all dorky, especially Louie), it is like one our cousins is in Congress. He sounds like us, he is likable, and he is the type of guy who would be more comfortable having a beer in Philly than being wined and dined by lobbyists in DC.

    Brady also is a pretty good vote in Congress. However, while ratings are not all that matter, a pretty basic google search shows that Nutter is not even right about Brady's record. Even in the specific areas he mentions, Brady's record is far from perfect. For example, in civil rights, how about the Human Rights Campaign? Doesn't seem to be perfect. Additionally, he leaves out other progressive interests, like the environment. Why?

    In fact, what has become the most generally accepted 'progressive scorecard' in Congress, Progressive Punch, has Brady over the course of his career as the 115th most progressive Democrat. In other words, in a Congress with 233 Democrats, Brady is almost exactly the median member. Not bad, not great. A typical Congressional Democrat.

    Brady does, however, love Philly, and I do think that it is clear that he will have the opportunity to really deliver 'the goods' to the City over the next few years. Keith Leaphart, if he has any chance to beat him in Congress, is going to have to deal with that reality head on.

    But, an outright endorsement of Brady as party chair? Not a peep of protest? Seriously?

    Brady's threat from Dr. Leaphart

    I have known Dr. Keith Leaphart for over two years now, and I am hopeful that his Exploratory Committee becomes a full fledged Congressional campaign. Full disclosure: I have no official role, but I have spoken with Dr. Leaphart about my professional interest in helping him with his Exploratory Committee. But regardless of whether I view him as a client, friend, community activist, doctor, or congressional candidate, my admiration for his leadership and commitment to his community remains the same. Dr. Leaphart is man who has proven his intellect and compassion through his education and career choices, and demonstrated a deep committment to his community through years of organizing and mentoring.

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