Legislative races getting heated as election nears

The campaigns in the 170th and 177th legislative districts are getting heated.

State Rep. Martina White (R-170th dist.) and Democratic challenger Matt Darragh are bashing each other in newspaper advertisements, cable television commercials and mailings.

State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) and Democratic opponent Joe Hohenstein are in a war of words that could escalate leading up to the Nov. 8 election.


White’s ads deride Darragh, who works for the auditor general’s office, as an insider who echoes his political bosses’ support of sanctuary cities and higher taxes.

Darragh’s ads link White to Donald Trump, note that she is a “renter” who has never paid property taxes and claim she attended “elite private schools.”

Both candidates insist the other has an extreme view on abortion. White is pro-life. Darragh is pro-choice.

About $1 million is expected to be spent on the race, and both candidates held fundraisers last week.

Darragh joined supporters at Knock, a bar in Center City. He is counting on voters to support Hillary Clinton for president and other Democrats.

“I hope it has an effect down ballot,” he said.

Darragh and union supporters are going door-to-door to meet voters.

“Our message we’re putting out is resonating with voters,” he said. “Most of the governing that affects their lives happens at the local level.”

Darragh will join U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty and other local elected Democrats for a rally on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Plumbers Local 690 union hall, 2791 Southampton Road.

Meanwhile, ward leaders Dan Tinney and Joe Giedemann hosted a fundraiser for White at Union Tap on Comly Road. She dismissed Darragh’s use of Trump as a campaign tactic.

“I never endorsed any presidential candidate,” she said.

White said Darragh was off base in noting that she attended Nazareth Academy Grade School and Villa Joseph Marie High School.

“My parents work really hard to earn a living,” she said.

White and Darragh will square off in debate on Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. at Somerton Youth Organization, with Times staffers serving as moderator and timekeeper.


The House on Monday passed a bill sponsored by White to hold cities and municipalities liable for damages caused by illegal immigrants living in so-called “sanctuary cities” in the state.

White introduced House Bill 1885 after Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney declared Philadelphia a sanctuary city — meaning that the city will not turn over illegal aliens to federal officials.

“Local officials cannot create their own immigration law,” White said. “When you disagree with federal law, you advocate for change. Choosing not to uphold our laws sets a dangerous precedent.”

The bill passed, 136–55. White and Reps. Tom Murt, Mike Driscoll, Ed Neilson and John Taylor voted for it. Rep. Jason Dawkins voted against it. Reps. Kevin Boyle, Mark Cohen and Dwight Evans did not vote.

“This is an issue that has bipartisan support,” White said. “The Obama administration is opposed to sanctuary cities. As are other prominent Pennsylvania Democrats, including Mayor Nutter and Gov. Ed Rendell, who, as you know, are both former mayors of Philadelphia. When leaders from both parties stand up and say sanctuary municipalities are wrong, we must do so as well.”

House Bill 1885 now moves to the Senate.

White is also hoping for Senate approval of House Bill 1538, which would prohibit municipalities from releasing the names of cops involved in shootings until an investigation is completed.


Hohenstein attended a rally on Saturday morning outside his Frankford office with about 500 people, most of them members of the 32BJ SEIU union.

The candidate said he is looking forward to Hillary Clinton being the first woman president and Katie McGinty being Pennsylvania’s first woman senator. He also criticized the Tea Party for opposing most government action.

If elected, Hohenstein will vote for pay equality and a $15 an hour minimum wage.

“Not a penny less,” he said.

Hohenstein reminded the crowd that Taylor plans to vote for Trump, and that he was elected in 1984.

“John was in office when I was in high school,” he said.

Hohenstein is also criticizing Taylor after a report that his law firm, Archer & Greiner, received $385,468 in contracts from the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

Vince Fenerty, a longtime Taylor friend, resigned as executive director of PPA amid allegations of sexual harassment.

“Voters need to know if money influenced his decision to take no significant action against Fenerty after he was aware of this disturbing situation. Taylor’s claimed regret that he did not discuss the matter with the PPA board chair is not grounds for a free pass, especially now that it is apparent that the PPA under Fenerty’s direction was giving his law firm lucrative contracts,” Hohenstein said.


Taylor issued a statement on Tuesday about the passing of White’s bill on sanctuary cities.

“While many people would like to complicate the anti-sanctuary cities legislation that we passed by an overwhelming margin in the House yesterday, the bill is really simple. The aim of the legislation is to force cities to comply with federal regulations and guidelines when it comes to illegal aliens who are arrested. Municipalities must contact the federal authorities when they have an illegal immigrant in custody. This is common-sense legislation. The goal is to protect the public at large,” he said.

Taylor was recently endorsed by FOP Lodge 5 and the city and state firefighters union.


Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright campaigned for Hillary Clinton on Saturday morning at Clinton’s campaign office at 8568 Bustleton Ave.

Albright, who worked in Bill Clinton’s administration, gave up teaching this fall to campaign for the former first lady, whom she called the most prepared person to ever run for president. The two met while working for the Children’s Defense Fund.

Albright credited Clinton for working with South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to provide health benefits to National Guard members.

“She knows how to reach across the aisle,” she said.

Albright said Clinton restored America’s reputation around the world when she served as secretary of state.

“She was a remarkable secretary of state,” she said.

Albright urged supporters, including state Rep. Mark Cohen, to not be overconfident of a Clinton victory. She posed for pictures and signed autographs as a protester outside held a sign that read, “Hillary 4 Prison.”

Albright wore a Clinton campaign pin that featured the breaking of a glass ceiling. She said that, in addition to Clinton’s experience, it was a bonus that she is a woman.

Earlier this year, Albright apologized after saying on the campaign trail that, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”


The public is invited to two upcoming political forums.

The Bakers Bay Civic Association will welcome candidates on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Bakers Bay is at 5100 Convent Lane (at State Road), south of Fitler Street. The event is in the clubhouse.

Candidates for president, U.S. Senate and House, attorney general, auditor general, treasurer and state Senate and House have been invited. Also, Congregations of Shaare Shamayim will host a free brunch on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 10 a.m. The synagogue is at 9768 Verree Road. Candidates wanting to attend either event can call Ruth Horwitz at 215–913–1991. ••