Race For Votes Flier's Bigoted, Sexist, Welker Camp Argues

Posted: April 27, 1995

If there are any people left in the 5th City Council District who don't know that candidate Julie Welker's husband is white, they're just not paying attention.

A flier handed out in largely African-American neighborhoods calls Welker's husband, Harvey, "a white millionaire." And he's been seen on the campaign trail with her. Welker is African- American.

The flier says, "We are not racist, we have nothing against the fact that Julie Welker's husband is a white millionaire from Fairmount." Later, it says, "We should not let the rich white folks from Fairmount use Julie Welker (a black face) as a stoolie to take what our parents have struggled and died for."

It also links state Sen. Vince Fumo to Harvey Welker, saying "they are both rich, powerful and politically ambitious white men who are behind Julie Welker."

Harvey Welker is white, but he's no millionaire, said Welker campaign spokesman Dale Wilcox. Fumo has said repeatedly he supports Welker's opponent, City Council President John Street.

And Street said he had nothing to do with the flier. Welker's spokesman agreed.

Welker said 15th Ward Committeeman Rubin Glass, a Street supporter, handed her the flier as she was campaigning on Uber Street near Brown on Saturday.

"He walked off with a little smirk on his face," said eyewitness and Welker supporter Fernell Richardson.

Through the week, the flier made its way to other black areas of the district, which runs from Center City through North Philadelphia.

Glass, who has posters for Street in the windows of his home, declined to confirm or deny his involvement with the flier. He did say that it held some ''strong points."

It does. Besides the racist and sexist overtones, it raises a much- discussed issue in this campaign.

As City Council president, Street is the highest-ranking elected African- American leader in the city.

Street raised that issue from Day 1 when he announced his re-election

plans, saying, "If anybody here thinks it's all right to take the black president of City Council and send him into unemployment, that's a person that needs a head transplant."

If Street loses to Welker, there's no guarantee another black Council member will take over as Council president.

Welker said the flier was especially offensive to women because it implies ''women are not capable of conducting their affairs, not capable of being successful . . . there has to be a man involved."

Two Welker supporters who were with her on Saturday complained that politics has to get past race and back to the issues.

"She's doing great, that's why they're bringing out the hate literature," supporter Lee Ruffin said.

Welker said that although a Street supporter handed her the flier, she doubted Street authorized it.

It appears both candidates have an inability to control their overzealous supporters.

Street said he's been victimized by cheap campaign fliers as well, but doesn't link them to the Welker campaign.

"One was in the form of an obituary," he said.

The sheet noted that he died of "a fatal dose of Ed Rendellism (sic), which was aggravated by terminal severe constituent neglect."

On WHAT-AM radio, Omjasisa Kentu, head of the Grass Roots Political Network, said he raised the point Monday that Welker is hiding her husband's race.

The show's host, Mary Mason, said others have tried to raise the issue as well, and she's cut them off.

"Race is not an issue," Mason said.

An official Welker campaign pamphlet shows a picture of Welker, her daughter Kristen, and her late father Alex Z. Talmadge, a popular labor leader - but not her husband.

"No one should judge a candidate by the hue of their mate," Kentu said, ''But it does leave a question of the integrity if the literature is deceitful. The race stuff shouldn't be important to her. Her husband should have been part of the photo if it is to be a family picture."

Welker's campaign manager, Bill Joseph, said the picture was used to link Welker to her father and to show her as a strong pro-labor candidate. He said it was the best picture of Welker and her father they could find and there was no attempt to hide Harvey Welker's race.

Kentu and other Street supporters at first said they believed Welker must have put out the white-husband flier to draw white support to her campaign.

The district has a concentration of white voters in the southern end, where Welker is popular, and black voters in the Northern end where Street is strong.

Race was a subtle issue here when Street and Welker ran against each other in 1991 because of Welker's white support. But this white-husband talk is the most blatant it has gotten.

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