Sworn in at City Council and looking to the future ... of another elected office?

CHRIS BRENNAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Amy Dacey , Democratic National Committee CEO, is greeted yesterday morning by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts (center) and others.
CHRIS BRENNAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Amy Dacey , Democratic National Committee CEO, is greeted yesterday morning by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts (center) and others.
Posted: August 15, 2014

 ED NEILSON   was quietly sworn in as City Council's newest member yesterday, nearly three months after he won a special election for the at-large seat.

But will he finish the 17 months left in the term of former Councilman Bill Green, who resigned in February to be chairman of the School Reform Commission?

To hear the former state representative tell it, only time will tell.

There is growing interest in Northeast Philly politics about state Sen. Mike Stack III's 5th Senatorial District. Stack is running for lieutenant governor and his ticket-mate, former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, is leading Gov. Corbett in the polls.

A Stack win in November opens up his seat for a special election after he is sworn into a new office in January. Stack's fourth four-year term in the Senate expires in January 2017.

Neilson made clear yesterday that he has some interest in that.

State Rep. John Sabatina Jr. is also interested, as is John McNesby, president of Lodge No. 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Asked before yesterday's swearing-in if he was committed to completing his term on Council, Neilson paused for six long seconds and then said: "Hmm. Give me a second on that one. Let me think about that."

Neilson then said his "goal" is to complete the term and he has no immediate Senate plans.

"You never know what the future holds," Neilson added. "Politics is one day at a time when you're an elected official."

The city's Democratic ward leaders selected Neilson for the Council special election in May.

Redistricting moved Neilson's state House district to York County, leaving him in Sabatina's district, setting up what could have been an ugly primary fight.

Neilson is a former political director for Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Sabatina's father, John Sabatina Sr., is the longtime leader of Northeast Philly's 56th Ward.

The younger Sabatina confirmed his interest in the Senate seat yesterday, pointing out that "a lot has to happen" to make all this come to pass.

His father noted that the 56th Ward would play a major role in selecting a special election candidate if the need arises.

"Whatever it is, it is," he said.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 leader John Dougherty said this of Neilson yesterday: "Wherever his bright future takes him, the people of Philly will be better for it."

A super PAC win

A federal judge this week struck a blow for super PACs, issuing a permanent injunction to keep the state from enforcing a law prohibiting political-action committees from accepting contributions directly from corporations and labor unions.

It wasn't much of a surprise.

The state put up almost no legal fight since the case was filed in February by General Majority PAC, based in Washington, D.C.

Judge William Caldwell shot down the state's request for the court to rewrite the state's Election Code, saying that was a job for the state Legislature.

The ruling clears the way for groups unconnected to 2015 candidates for mayor in Philadelphia to raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash to influence that race. That's legal as long as there is no coordination between a candidate and Super PAC.

RNC's debate team

Rob Gleason, the three-term chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, was selected Saturday to serve on the Republican National Committee's Standing Committee on Presidential Primary Debates. And, after the mess that was 2012, Gleason sees plenty to fix before 2016.

"It became, I think, out of control with 20, 22 debates with fringe candidates who didn't really have a chance," Gleason said. "As we reviewed everything that happened in 2012, this was a glaring problem of mistakes."

The RNC in May adopted a new rule that it will sanction primary debates and any candidate who participates in a nonsanctioned debate will be locked out of future sanctioned debates.

"That's going to have a lot of teeth in it," Gleason said.

Quotable:

" What I'm hearing is: Do we have the capacity? And the response has been an overwhelming yes we have the capacity, yes the city of Philadelphia wants it, yes the business community wants it and yes we can do both."

- Dan Hilferty, CEO of Independence Blue Cross and the new chairman of the host committee hoping to lure the 2016 Democratic National Convention to Philadelphia, responding to business community concerns about the city staging the event after the 2015 World Meeting of Families, which may draw more than 1 million visitors and Pope Francis.


Email: brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout.com

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