No plates thrown: Wolf and also-rans have unity breakfast

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz , who finished a distant second in the Democratic primary race, has a warm exchange with Tom Wolf at the Oregon Diner in South Philadelphia. VIVIANA PERNOT/ Staff Photographer
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz , who finished a distant second in the Democratic primary race, has a warm exchange with Tom Wolf at the Oregon Diner in South Philadelphia. VIVIANA PERNOT/ Staff Photographer
Posted: May 25, 2014

The breakfast menu at the Oregon Diner on Friday was hard feelings, over easy as the vanquished Democratic candidates for governor met with winner Tom Wolf and party leaders in a unity ritual.

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, state Treasurer Rob McCord, and Katie McGinty, the former state environmental secretary, and Wolf talked and noshed along with former Gov. Ed Rendell, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the city party.

No grand communiques emerged, just a reaffirmation that everybody wants to beat Republican Gov. Corbett this fall.

"We're not looking in the rearview mirror," Brady, the organizer of the event, said afterward as the participants assembled before the media.

That means, he said, that there was no discussion of the hard-hitting attacks on Wolf, including McCord ads that accused him of being soft on racism for having chaired the 2001 reelection campaign of a York mayor charged with murder in the death of a black woman during the city's 1969 race riots. (The mayor, Charlie Robertson, later was acquitted.)

Some of the pols reminisced about the pain of losing primaries past.

Rendell recalled how difficult it was for him to get over losing his first gubernatorial bid to Casey's father back in 1986, and the process of healing that took place after he beat the younger Casey in 2002.

"Campaigns are tough, rough businesses," Rendell said. "This is a first step, and it's a process that is going to take some time. But everybody here was uniform on one thing - that we owe it to Pennsylvania to make a change in the governorship."

Said Casey: "I became an expert at bringing people together and party unity when I lost to Ed. ... We're all sharing our experiences in doing that after a tough primary."

According to Brady, Schwartz - who finished a distant second to Wolf in Tuesday's Democratic primary - talked at breakfast about her experience after an earlier second-place finish, in the 2000 primary for U.S. Senate. (U.S. Rep. Ron Klink won that primary, only to lose that fall another Western Pennsylvanian, Republican Rick Santorum.)

The breakfast attendees were militant about message discipline. "No questions, no questions, no questions," Rendell repeated like a mantra as the group walked to a stand of microphones outside the diner.

Journalists were allowed to photograph and observe the gang gathering at the South Philadelphia diner, then were ushered away to allow a private conversation.

McCord arrived 15 minutes late to the 9 a.m. breakfast. He and Wolf did not shake hands - at least, not in front of the media.

Afterward, Wolf borrowed a line from John F. Kennedy in praising his erstwhile rivals. "I don't think there's been such an assembly of talent in one place since Thomas Jefferson dined here alone," the nominee quipped.

"The three people who ran against me in this primary are among the most talented people I've ever had the privilege of working with," Wolf said.

Those three did not speak. As the briefing was winding down, Schwartz slipped away and got in her car to leave.

Later, Brady said a lot of the conversation over breakfast was about funny campaign moments. One topic: the challenge every candidate faces when confronted with food on the trail - what to eat, and how to eat it in public.

"I talked about Ed Rendell, how he lined his [suit] pockets with cellophane so he could put an end cut of roast beef in his pocket before he left the Prime Rib," Brady said, referring to one of the most famous tales in Philadelphia politics.

It was just a typical breakfast meeting, Brady ventured - "no animosities, no 'I'm sorry, I love you.' "

The party chairman did his part to end the meal on a friendly note: a $100 tip on a $150 check.


tfitzgerald@phillynews.com

215-854-2718

@tomfitzgerald

www.inquirer.com/bigtent

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