Boyle's congressional ground game bests Margolies' air war

CHARLES FOX / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Marjorie Margolies hugs a supporter after conceding the election for the 13th Congressional District Democratic nomination last night.
CHARLES FOX / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Marjorie Margolies hugs a supporter after conceding the election for the 13th Congressional District Democratic nomination last night.
Posted: May 22, 2014

THINK OF the 13th Congressional District like a football field to understand how state Rep. Brendan Boyle used his ground game yesterday to defeat former U.S. Rep. Marjorie Margolies' air war.

Boyle won the Democratic primary election by exploiting the field operation he built with his brother, state Rep. Kevin Boyle, in the 172nd District next door.

Several competitive races in Northeast Philly, boosting voter turnout there, helped as well.

Boyle was leading Margolies by a margin of 4-to-1 in Philadelphia last night, while she led him by 2- to-1 in Montgomery County.

Margolies ran a campaign heavy with payroll for political consultants and did not air enough TV commercials to capitalize on the name recognition left over from her one term in the 13th District in the 1990s.

Margolies hails from Montgomery County, as do the two other Democrats in the race, state Sen. Daylin Leach and Dr. Valerie Arkoosh. That likely split the vote there, benefiting Boyle.

Pollster G. Terry Madonna, of Franklin & Marshall College, said Margolies coasted in the race, perhaps counting on the well-known swing vote she cast in 1993 to approve a budget for then-President Bill Clinton. That vote cost her the 13th District seat.

"I think she took it for granted," he said. "I think she assumed there was a preconception that the seat was hers, that they owed it to her because of the vote."

Margolies had support from Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Each held a fundraiser for Margolies. Her son, Marc Mezvinsky, is married to Chelsea Clinton.

Boyle also ran unopposed yesterday in the primary for his 170th District state House seat in Northeast Philly.

Republican Carson Dee Adcock, a plumbing-supply-company owner from Abington who lost a bid for the seat in 2010, defeated retired U.S. Air Force Col. Beverly Plosa-Bowser in their primary.

Adcock will face an uphill battle in the 13th District.

Democrats make up 60 percent of the district's registered voters, while Republicans have 28 percent and independent or third-party voters are 12 percent.

The Democratic battle for the 13th District seat frayed into an intraparty financial fracas late in the primary season.

Federal "independent-expenditure" groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign commercials, with building-trade unions supporting Boyle while abortion-rights groups opposed him.

Leach filed two Federal Election Commission complaints against Margolies, accusing her of violating regulations on how campaign cash is spent.


On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

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