Kilkenny building war chest in 177th race

Sean Kilkenny, a Democratic candidate in the 177th Legislative District, welcomed more than 200 supporters to a fundraiser Saturday.

On the campaign trail: Sean Kilkenny, a Democratic candidate in the 177th Legislative District, said it was “truly overwhelming” to see so many supporters at his fundraiser on Saturday.

Sean Kilkenny, a Democratic candidate in the 177th Legislative District, welcomed more than 200 supporters to a fundraiser Saturday night at the Sprinkler Fitters Local 692 hall.

Kilkenny said it was “truly overwhelming” to see so many family members, friends, neighbors and fellow union members.

A member of the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ Local 592, he has been endorsed by the Philadelphia Building Trades Council and is expected to soon earn the backing of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.

The Kilkenny campaign hopes to raise $300,000, enough to open a campaign office and to get the candidate’s message on television and via multiple mailings. He’s already been meeting voters at their doors.

“We’re concentrating on knocking on doors and getting endorsements,” he said.

Kilkenny is a 2000 Father Judge High School graduate who lives in the same Chippendale Street home in which he grew up. He’s a 64th Ward committeeman and St. Matthew CYO coach and is active with Ancient Order of Hibernians Local 39 and the Mayfair Civic Association.

Kilkenny describes himself as a “working-class guy” whose first job was as a busboy at Tony’s Place when he was in eighth grade.

“I haven’t stopped working since,” he said.

Kilkenny’s platform includes opposition to right-to-work and paycheck protection bills, which are despised by unions. He wants to help young people who have student loan debt and favors a higher minimum wage and additional funding to hire police officers, fight the opioid epidemic and care for Alzheimer’s disease sufferers.

Republican Rep. John Taylor is not seeking another term, leading to a crowded Democratic primary. Gary Masino Jr., Kilkenny’s campaign manager, expects about 4,500 people to vote in the Democratic primary, meaning someone could win the primary with fewer than 1,000 votes.

Other Democrats running are Maggie Borski, a law student and daughter of former congressman Bob Borski; immigration lawyer Joe Hohenstein, who took about 45 percent of the vote last year against Taylor; and Sean Patrick Wayland, who served eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and spent time in Iraq in 2008.

Community activist Dan Martino will enter the race on Wednesday.

Possible candidates are Tom Forkin, an aide to state Rep. Mike Driscoll and chairman of the 55th Ward Democratic Committee; and Harry Enggasser, a ward leader, aide to U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, two-time challenger to Taylor and president of the Bridesburg Civic Association.

Sean K. McMonagle, an aide to Councilman Mark Squilla, has been mentioned as a possible candidate. Former Councilman Dan Savage has also been mentioned, but is said to be sitting out the race.

Justin Salmasi had been raising money on CrowdPac, but is no longer running.

Patty-Pat Kozlowski, a community activist and director of park stewardship at the city Department of Parks and Recreation, has been weighing her options as a possible Democratic or Republican candidate, but she is expected to stay put in her job.

Possible Republican candidates include Chris Vogler, Republican leader of the 55th Ward; Pete Smith, a community activist from Tacony and Wharton School graduate; and Brian Caputo, a former aide to Councilman Brian O’Neill.

Some Republicans would like to see Forkin seek the GOP nod.

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State Rep. Brian Sims has endorsed Maggie Borski for the Democratic nomination in the 177th district.

In a Facebook post, he called on 2018 to be the “Year of the Woman.”

Borski said she looks forward to working with Sims — a fellow graduate of Bloomsburg University — throughout the campaign and on important issues facing Philadelphia.

“I am honored to have Rep. Sims’ endorsement,” she said. “He is absolutely right that women are underrepresented in the General Assembly, and we need representatives who will put their time and energy into fighting for working families and the issues that are important to them.”

Borski’s next campaign fundraiser will be on Wednesday night, Jan. 10, at Gallo’s Seafood.

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Jeff Bartos appears to be emerging as the favorite in the race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, reporting more than $849,000 cash on hand and securing the support of the Republican State Committee’s Central, Northeast and Northeast Central caucuses.

Bartos is running to make home ownership, healthcare and education more affordable. He began the campaign season running for the U.S. Senate, but dropped out of that contest when he was endorsed for LG by state Sen. Scott Wagner, who is running for governor.

Other Republican candidates for lieutenant governor are former state Rep. Gordon Denlinger and Otto Voit, the GOP’s 2016 candidate for state treasurer.

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Laura Ellsworth, an Allegheny County lawyer and Republican candidate for governor, will not be participating in the GOP endorsement process.

“I believe each GOP candidate for governor should make his or her case to all Republican voters in the May primary,” she said. “Pennsylvanians are tired of politics as usual and insider deals. I want to avoid the same results as we suffered in last November’s local elections. An endorsement process controlled by insiders and career politicians is simply not the best course for our party. The best course for all Republicans is to let the four candidates take their cases directly to the people and to let our individual Republican voters determine who their candidate for governor should be.”

The other Republican candidates for governor are state Sen. Scott Wagner, House Speaker Mike Turzai and Allegheny County businessman Paul Mango.

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee contends that U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr.’s opposition to the tax reform bill is becoming more indefensible, as more businesses react positively.

Lackawanna County-based Fidelity Bank recently paid $1,000 bonuses to all full-time employees earning less than $100,000, and $500 bonuses to its part-time employees.

Comcast, PNC and AccuWeather have announced similar bonuses as well as pay raises, infrastructure investment and charitable giving after passage of the tax cut.

“Bob Casey tried his hardest to derail the Republican tax cut, even though it was clear the plan would put more money in Pennsylvanians’ pockets,” said NRSC spokesman Bob Salera. “Pennsylvania voters won’t forget that, when Casey had the chance to fight for them, he turned his back and voted with his liberal party bosses.”

Republican candidates for Senate are U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, state Rep. Jim Christiana, retired energy company executive Paul Addis and businessman Bobby Lawrence. ••