Protesters warn Meehan about his stance on shutdown

Springfield Police Chief Joseph Daly talks to protesters at Rep. Patrick Meehan's office.
Springfield Police Chief Joseph Daly talks to protesters at Rep. Patrick Meehan's office. (AKIRA SUWA / Staff)
Posted: October 13, 2013

A small group of protesters huddled in the pouring rain outside U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan's office in Springfield, Delaware County, office Friday and urged him to help end the government shutdown.

Their message to the Delaware County Republican: You're vulnerable, and don't forget it.

"If Rep. Meehan decides to follow party ideology instead of standing with his constituents on this critical issue, Rep. Meehan can be sure constituents like me will not forget this moment once Election Day rolls around in 2014," Innes Forbes, 62, of Ridley Park, said to the group of about 20 people.

Meehan is one of five Philadelphia-area Republican representatives who have voiced support for a "clean" spending bill that would fund the government without changing President Obama's health law. The others are Charlie Dent, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jon Runyan, and Jim Gerlach. All are from moderate districts and are more susceptible to political challenges than many of their counterparts.

Public pushback - both big and small - has been building around Philadelphia as the shutdown nears the end of its second week.

About 50 furloughed federal workers chanted and held signs Wednesday outside the Wanamaker Building, which houses several government offices. And a Chadds Ford man has said he plans to stage his own protest by fighting a $100 ticket he was handed over the weekend while running at the closed Valley Forge National Historical Park.

The group that gathered in Springfield, organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, stood along Sproul Road for about 15 minutes as its signs - printed on computer paper and relaying messages such as "Bring Back Government" and "Stop Hurting our Families" - grew soggy in the rain.

According to its Web site, the committee was founded in 2009 by former MoveOn organiers Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor. It claims more than 950,000 members nationwide.

A few passing cars honked to show support as several speakers made brief remarks on Friday.

"The people of Delaware County cannot afford to keep investing in this inconsistent leadership," Bill Clinton, a candidate for Delaware County Council, said, addressing Meehan. "Please have the courage to take the vote that will reopen the federal government and keep the residents of Delaware County safe."

A recent poll from Public Policy Polling found that only 28 percent of voters in Meehan's moderate district think he is doing a good job. And just 31 percent support the shutdown.

Meehan's office responded by encouraging constituents to take the recent Public Policy Polling results with a grain of salt, citing a nonpartisan analyst who wrote this week that the firm's surveys are often "intended to boost Democratic recruiting, fund-raising, or prospects."

In an e-mail, Meehan spokesman John Elizandro said Meehan was "leading the effort with Democrats and Republicans to reopen the government and address our out-of-control spending."

John Tierney, a Democrat from Ridley Park, said at Friday's protest that he had not seen Meehan compromise yet. Instead, he said, Meehan had sided with "radical right-wingers" and forgotten who elected him.

"This isn't radical. I've lived in Delaware County almost all of my life. We're moderate," he said. "Democrat and Republican."


tnadolny@phillynews.com

610-313-8205

@TriciaNadolny

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