Gov. Corbett runs into a rowdy throng of protesters in Northeast Philly

Posted: November 08, 2013

A CONGA LINE clearly would have been a better exit strategy.

Gov. Corbett's "Promises Kept Re-Election Tour" came to Northeast Philly on Thursday, where about 200 supporters packed into an American Legion Post in Fox Chase could easily hear about 100 protesters rhythmically chanting outside.

The governor's wife, Susan Corbett, made the best of it while introducing him to the crowd.

"There's a party going on outside and they've worked up a really nice beat to what they're saying so I vote for you all to join me in a conga line when we leave," she told the laughing crowd.

Instead, Corbett and his wife scrambled through the jeering throng of protesters, rushing to the refuge of their SUV, protected by state troopers and Philadelphia police officers.

Corbett, suffering through a prolonged thrashing in public-opinion polls, is nationally recognized as one of the most vulnerable politicians in 2014. He must at times long nostalgically for the relative anonymity of his first run for governor in 2010.

Corbett beat his Democratic opponent, former Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, by 9 percentage points that year.

A Daily News/Franklin & Marshall College Poll released a week before that election showed that about one in three registered voters didn't know enough about Corbett or Onorato to offer an opinion about the candidates.

Corbett won just 17 percent of the vote in Philadelphia. He won the vote in Chester and Bucks counties but lost in Montgomery and Delaware counties.

About 40 percent of the state's registered voters live in those five southeastern counties.

And Corbett's general-election foe next year could hail from southeastern Pennsylvania.

So what is Corbett's plan to win over voters in this region?

"We're not going to go into those kinds of details right now," Corbett said after his speech. "We're not going to put our game plan out there for everybody to look at and to respond to."

Instead, Corbett presents himself as the guy who closed a $4.2 billion state budget deficit, kept taxes from increasing and managed the expiration of federal stimulus dollars used to prop up public-education funding.

That last issue drew most of the protesters yesterday, angry about the state's role in the Philadelphia School District's continuing budget struggles.

Corbett said public-education funding is 40 percent of the state budget and is now financed at the highest level ever in the state.

Outside, the protesters waved signs printed on moving boxes while a U-Haul truck circled the block with a banner that said "Send Corbett packing."

Knox to make it official

Tom Knox, a wealthy businessman who spent more than $10 million of his own cash on a 2007 campaign for mayor that ended in a second-place finish in the Democratic primary, plans to formally enter the 2015 race for mayor on Nov. 20.

Knox, who filed paperwork in April to start a political-action committee for the race, will hold an afternoon event in City Hall's Conversation Hall followed by a fundraiser that evening in his home on the 46th floor of Two Liberty Place in Center City.

In an email to supporters on Election Day this week, Knox said "milestone moments are best when shared by friends."

The fundraiser, dubbed "Cocktails and Conversation," costs $1,000 per person. It's $2,900 - the annual maximum allowed under city campaign-finance law - if you stick around for dinner.

"We wanted to raise not less than $100,000," said George Bochetto, Knox's lawyer and the fundraiser host. "It's already looking like we're going to well exceed that. The feedback we've been getting has been terrific."

About that sabotage

Clout tries to avoid telling politicians "We told you so."

But our conversation last week with Danny Alvarez, the Republican challenging District Attorney Seth Williams' bid for a second term, really stuck with us.

Before Tuesday's general election, Republicans were already talking about Alvarez potentially being a candidate next year for the state House seat in Northeast Philly's 170th District. Alvarez lives there and did a lot of campaign legwork in the district.

Alvarez, who lost by a 4-to-1 margin Tuesday, saw the 2014 talk as political "sabotage."

The 170th District is made up from the 58th and 66th wards.

Despite being trounced by Williams citywide, Alvarez won the 58th Ward by 4.36 percent and the 66th Ward by 13.28 percent.

With saboteurs like that, who needs friends?


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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