Candidate contenders emerging

69

Listen up (or, in this case, read on).

There’s some interesting backstage politics going on in Philly and Montgomery County that might change the political landscape. But first, you need a little history.

Last August, this writer wrote a column predicting that Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz would be a candidate for governor — and, not only would she run, but that, against current Gov. Tom Corbett, she actually had a chance. The political pundits in Philly media and politicians themselves scoffed at the idea and mocked it. But, guess what happened? Schwartz has all but announced her candidacy, and the latest poll has her eight points up over Corbett. Now don’t lose your bloomers over that; it’s early and other Democratic candidates will enter that race, most notably expected state Treasurer Robb McCord. This has created a set-up of another interesting race — the race to fill Schwartz’s vacated Congressional seat.

This gets dicey, since about 55 percent of her 13th District is in Philly, with the remainder in Montgomery County. So, it’s split between two different counties and two different political structures. And the candidates that are being mentioned are an interesting lot and are all progressive on LGBT issues. Here’s the breakdown. And, as this column is titled, mark my words.

There are four major candidates who are rumored or have hinted that they will run for the Democratic nomination for the 13th District. It is almost a certainty that whoever wins the Democratic nomination will win the general election, since Democrats far outnumber Republicans in the district. Of the four, one is from Philadelphia, two are from Montgomery County and the other is serving a district that straddles both counties.

By the numbers alone, 55 percent of the vote from Philadelphia serves the Philly candidate well. And, if that candidate is a known commodity who is well-liked and a proven fundraiser, he becomes the odds-on favorite. That candidate is former Philadelphia City Controller Jonathan Saidel. And at this writing, he is far ahead. He’s already lined up union support and Philly ward leaders and has made the trek to Washington, D.C., for endorsements and funds. He’s also been making the rounds in Montgomery County, where he is well-known and has been a featured speaker at party events for years. Translation: He has lots of friends already in place.

As for the three other names, they are state Rep. Brendan Boyle, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro and state Sen. Daylin Leach. Each is a rising star in political circles, each is a progressive, each has the right credentials and each is in a current position to advance further in leadership — whether in the state House or Senate or, for Shapiro, a statewide run.

As I wrote in the Schwartz piece in August, it’s early and politics can change every day. But, if I were a betting man, I’d say Saidel has an incredible advantage.

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at [email protected].