There were on and off rain showers followed by sunny moments. All of this would conclude with a double rainbow that many Philadelphians noticed before sundown.
Who would have thought that the pot of gold at the end of those rainbows would signify the beginning of new political possibilities? A rainbow is often referred to as a symbol of hope. Well, after Tuesday’s primary elections, I’m definitely a lot more optimistic about the future of local politics in the city.
“Philly politics as usual” – the phrase many reference as the explanation for the countless inside dealings that happen within City Hall and Harrisburg - took a well-deserved hit this week as many establishment favorites lost to community challengers.
Although indicted for charges of bank fraud and racketeering, Congressman Chaka Fattah had the support of our city’s Democratic Party leader Bob Brady. But that wouldn’t stop voters from choosing to end Fattah’s years in the House at 22 as they elected State Rep. Dwight Evans to replace him.
Evans once ran for governor and city mayor twice and yet never had the opportunity to secure an election victory outside of the Northwest. I guess you could consider this his Leonardo DiCaprio Oscar win in terms of Philadelphia politics. His win on Tuesday serves as an epic example of one man’s shortcoming being another man’s opportunity. Hopefully Fattah can now devote his focus, energy and finances on his upcoming trial set to begin next month.
The Democratic Party machine would see more shortcomings as two of their special election backed candidates - Tonyelle Cook-Artis and Lynwood Savage - would lose their state House seats to newcomers Chris Rabb and Morgan Ceaphas, respectively. And with new challenger Jared Solomon ousting Mark Cohen, a 42-year House veteran and Pennsylvania's longest serving state representative, it’s safe to say that Mr. Brady’s mighty hand didn’t produce gold on Tuesday.
But Brady wasn’t alone on the losing team. Labor boss and political influencer John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty didn’t have much success either as voters supported President Barack Obama-endorsed Josh Shapiro over his pick of Stephen Zappala for attorney general. The 10 point blowout didn’t help make matters better for Brady and Mayor Jim Kenney, who also supported Zappala as well.
Overall, these major upsets tell us one thing: Philadelphians are getting fed up with the status quo of local politics. In the past, I have lamented about the nature of special elections and their arguably unfair interjection of party favorites in local races. When two of those said candidates lose to fairly new political faces, it’s time for the city’s Democratic Party to start revamping the system.
I have never been more excited to see what possibilities lie ahead for the new faces in Harrisburg and Congress taking on serious issues impacting the city. Philly politics may still be usual in some cases, but Tuesday’s surprise upsets may help put a shadow over it for now.