Clout: Five weeks after primary, Ramos-Cruz battle still rages

Marge (left), Renee Tartaglione: Using their offices to unseat Cruz?
Marge (left), Renee Tartaglione: Using their offices to unseat Cruz?
Posted: June 25, 2010

THINGS ARE really getting interesting in the Democratic primary election for the state House's 180th District seat, five weeks after the votes were counted.

The Philadelphia City Commission, which oversees elections, issued subpoenas yesterday for judges of elections in the 7th Democratic Ward. State Rep. Angel Cruz, who defeated Jonathan Ramos by 124 votes in the election, is the ward leader there.

The commissioners plan to hold hearings Tuesday and Wednesday on the election.

Ramos has challenged the election in Common Pleas Court and filed a complaint with the District Attorney's Office that was referred to the state Attorney General's Office, which is now investigating.

Cruz yesterday complained that commission chairwoman Marge Tartaglione and her daughter, deputy commissioner Renee Tartaglione, supported Ramos in the election and are using their public offices in an attempt to unseat Cruz.

"Let them conduct any investigation they want to do," Cruz said. "We didn't do anything illegal. They just can't take a loss."

Ramos accuses Cruz and his brother of trying to intimidate and remove some judges of elections at polling places during the May 18 primary and of taking home election materials that should have been submitted to the commission on Election Night.

An investigation by his campaign found that 72 people registered in other political parties were allowed to vote in the Democratic primary, that nine voters claimed that they were given unwanted assistance when casting ballots and that at least one dead person voted in the election.

Next up for Tony Williams . . .

State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, fresh from his third-place finish last month in the four-man Democratic-primary election for governor, gathered friends and supporters at the National Constitution Center last night to say thank you and to let them know what's coming next.

Short-term: Williams, who made school vouchers a key issue in his campaign, introduced legislation last week to create "opportunity scholarships" for low-income students who live in school districts with chronically failing schools. That would allow for public money to be used to pay for private-school tuition.

Long-term: Williams wants to capitalize on what he learned in this statewide run for governor by running for state auditor general in 2012.

Auditor General Jack Wagner, who finished second in the primary for governor, said that Williams could benefit from being "first out of the box" in the race to replace him in Harrisburg. Term limits prevent Wagner, re-elected to his post in 2008, from running for a third term.

"The one thing I saw in Tony in the campaign for governor was a passion for issues, one of which is improving the education fabric of the state," Wagner said.

Barbour raises cash for Corbett

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour this week took time out from booming oil away from his state's Gulf of Mexico shoreline to help grease the Tom Corbett for Governor campaign.

Barbour was the draw (and probably the drawl) at two fund-raisers Wednesday for this state's Republican attorney general. The first was in the afternoon at a Harrisburg restaurant, Stocks on Second. That was followed by an evening event at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Corbett campaign said that tickets at both events cost $1,000. Corbett, as of the most recent campaign-money filings, has three times the cash of his Democratic opponent, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato.

Barbour was in Washington yesterday raising funds for his own political committee, prompting Politico to wonder if he is setting up a presidential run.

Onorato's camp issued a news release Wednesday calling the Corbett/Barbour connection no surprise, labeling them "political insiders who defend special interests." And, it could have added, they also raise a lot of dough.

Quotable:

"Yeah, it was fun. I always like to inject humor into these situations."

- Gov. Rendell, explaining to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this week why he decapitated a bobblehead doll of a state representative and sent the head to him on the House floor after he refused to support a tax that Rendell wanted on natural-gas extraction.

Staff writer John Baer contributed to this report.

Have tips or suggestions? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or e-mail

brennac@phillynews.com.

Check out the Clout blog at:

www.phillyclout.com.


Have a news tip? Gossip? Suggestion? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or Catherine Lucey at 215-854-4712. Or e-mail phillyclout@phillynews.com.

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