Clout: Denny O'Brien's old district is still in Philly - for now

Posted: January 27, 2012

DO YOU LIVE in Northeast Philadelphia and feel the call to public service? Are you willing to potentially relocate to York County? Then the 169th state House District has an opportunity for you!

New City Councilman Denny O'Brien, who left the 169th District seat this month when he moved to City Hall, was ticked off about what happened with his old district last month.

The Legislative Reapportionment Commission, tasked with redrawing the lines of state House and Senate districts every 10 years, moved the seat from Northeast Philly to York County.

But the state Supreme Court tossed out the redistricting plan on Wednesday (see editorial, Page 19), sending it back to the commission for another try and returning district lines, for now, to their 2001 boundaries.

"It's back!" O'Brien exclaimed yesterday about his old district. "The 169th is going to exist for another two years, and then I dare them to try to take it away."

Here's the rub: Nobody can say for sure if the district is back for two years or two months. The commission is waiting for the Supreme Court to issue an opinion, which will explain the ruling and maybe tell the panel what to do next.

That will come next week.

Two members of the court, Chief Justice Ron Castille and Justice Max Baer, are scheduled to attend a state bar association's meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this weekend along with one of the two judges, Justice J. Michael Eakin, who voted against the ruling.

Wear your sunblock, fellas.

Baer told CapitolWire yesterday that he expects that the 2012 elections will use the 2001 district lines. That would mean the 169th stays here for now.

This promises to be a complicated mess for the Philadelphia City Commission, which already faces potential special elections for two other empty House seats. The 186th District in South Philly is vacant because Kenyatta Johnson won a Council seat. The 197th District in North Philly opened up when Jewell Williams became sheriff.

New Commission Chairwoman Stephanie Singer calls the moving boundaries "unprecedented."

What comes next?

State House Speaker Sam Smith may call special elections for April 24, the same day as the regular primary election. Political parties will nominate candidates for the special election. The winners in each district will finish the year in the state House.

The people on the ballots that day will also be listed on the primary-election ballot. If they win that race, they go on to the November general election for a chance to win a full two-year term starting next January.

Win Marge's office bat!

We here at Clout have always had an appreciation for the city's political relics. We suspect you feel the same way. So we want to help you get your hands on one.

Behold: The official City Hall office baseball bat of former nine-term City Commission Chairwoman Marge Tartaglione.

This very-well-used 34-inch Adirondack, left behind when Tartaglione left office this month, can be yours if you correctly answer three questions about her.

1. In what year was Tartaglione arrested and accused of illegally moving voting machines?

2. Tartaglione was referred to in the 1980s by some political wags as one of the city's three "Boom-Boom Sisters." Who were the two others?

3. To whom did Tartaglione pose this question during a City Commission meeting: "Are you finished? Then wipe yourself."?

Email your answers, with "Bat Quiz" in the subject line, to or mail them to us, care of "Bat Quiz," Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Phila., PA 19130. Entry deadline is next Thursday. Entries with three correct answers will be entered into a raffle to win the bat.

Political suicide missions

Every two years, the Republican City Committee goes searching for two heroes willing to take on U.S. Reps. Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah, two longtime pols in comfortable Democratic seats. The odds are overwhelmingly against these GOP candidates. But still they try.

In the 1st Congressional District, which stretches down the center of Philadelphia into Delaware County, Brady will face real-estate agent John Featherman, a perennial candidate who revels in the attention from campaigns but could not defeat a Democratic committeewoman last year for the GOP mayoral nomination.

It's a rematch. Featherman, running as a Libertarian, took 1 percent of the vote in 1998 while Brady took 81 percent.

In the 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses most of West and Northwest Philadelphia, Robert Allen Mansfield is challenging Fattah. Mansfield has announced four campaigns in the past two years - as a Republican for governor, and then lieutenant governor, and then independent for governor, and then back as a Republican for the U.S. Senate - but did not get his name on the ballot for any of those races.

Quotable vs. Quotable

"State GOP Chairman Rob Gleason wants to suppress the will of Republican voters by endorsing a candidate before the primary."

- Former state Rep. Sam Rohrer, who wants Republican leaders who gather in Hershey tomorrow to stay neutral in the primary election for the U.S. Senate.

"I think Sam would probably accept the endorsement if he thought he was going to get it."

- State Republican Chairman Rob Gleason, after Rohrer used the statement above to launch an online petition drive this week.

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

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