Heading into a re-election campaign for her third term representing the 7th District in Philadelphia City Council, Democrat Maria Quinones-Sanchez will again face a party-sponsored opponent, despite wide support in her community.
“We have some political in-fighting,” acknowledged Quinones-Sanchez, after 11 of 12 ward leaders in the 7th District voted Monday to endorse Manny Morales to run against Quinones-Sanchez for the Democratic nomination in the May primary.
“Historically there has been a tension between ward leaders and elected officials in a community that is still learning to exercise its political clout.”
“The party in this case went to the bottom of the barrel,” Quinones-Sanchez said of her opponent, saying he was not well-known in the community. “There’s a difference between a candidate that has been active and out there and someone who is filling a slot for a struggle that is going on.”
The city’s 7th councilmanic district includes much of Kensington up to Northeast Philadelphia, an impoverished area that has a large Latino population.
Morales, who moved to the US from Puerto Rico in 2006, resigned from his position as state Department of Labor investigator just weeks ago to run for Council. He is married with five kids.
“As an elected official, I’m a public servant. I’m going to make a point of serving the public and not serving myself,” Morales said of his campaign, via a spokesman. “I want to restore loyalty and unity to our district.”
Quinones-Sanchez was previously not endorsed by the Philadelphia Democratic City Political Committee, which is chaired by Congressman Bob Brady, in her first campaign in 2007. She was again not endorsed by the party in 2011 -- making her the only incumbent Democrat not endorsed by the party, she said.
“It’s a combination of never being part of the team and a little payback,” said longtime political observer Larry Ceisler of the party’s snub of Quinones-Sanchez -- citing her support for a slate of four candidates for local and state offices in 2014, some of whom ran against Democrat-endorsed politicians.
“She's always been on the other side of the party. Some people just end up there,” he said.
Quinones-Sanchez’ tenure in City Council has been noted for her work towards creating the Land Bank, as well as her dedication to community activities on behalf of women and the impoverished. But Ceisler pointed out that she’s also comfortable with the business world.
A dispute over the 7th District’s councilmanic seat is nothing new, Ceisler said.
“Since 1987, every four years there’s been a primary fight in that district,” he said.Quinones-Sanchez will officially launch her campaign at an event on Tuesday evening.