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Dillon out of Senate race, replaced by brother

Jim Dillon

Shawn Dillon on Sunday afternoon dropped out of the May 17 special election in the 5th Senatorial District and was replaced on the ballot by his younger brother, Jim.

Republicans had filed a challenge to Shawn Dillon’s candidacy, saying his campaign failed to file a statement of financial interest with the state ethics commission by the March 28 deadline.

Four people, led by longtime 45th Ward Republican leader Kevin Pasquay, filed the challenge in Commonwealth Court.

Not filing the form, Pasquay and the others said, was a fatal defect that should disqualify Dillon from the ballot.

The case never made it to court.

Ward leaders, most of them on Zoom, joined party boss Bob Brady and state Sen. Sharif Street in a caucus to pick a new candidate, Jim Dillon.

Shawn Dillon issued this statement: “Due to a paperwork error that was just discovered this weekend, I will be withdrawing from the 2022 special election for Senate District 5. This is a very frustrating turn of events, and I am disappointed to leave the campaign trail. I believe in my heart that this was our election to win, but I also know that this election is bigger than just one person. I’m stepping aside so that Democrats can have the best possible opportunity to keep this seat. That’s the best way to make sure that we do everything we can to improve public safety, make sure our schools are fairly funded, and create more jobs and more opportunities in our community. This is not the way I planned it, but this is not the end for me. I will continue to fight for Northeast Philadelphia families.”

The younger Dillon, 43, was a star basketball player at Holy Ghost Prep [class of 1996] who went on to play at Notre Dame under coaches John MacLeod and Matt Doherty. A point guard, he helped lead the Fighting Irish to the NIT final as a senior. Dillon is a former coach at Nazareth Academy.

The Republican candidate in the Senate race is Sam Oropeza, a real estate agent who runs a nonprofit called Rescuing Streets through Clean-Ups [RSCU].

The seat has been vacant since the beginning of the year, when John Sabatina Jr. became a Common Pleas Court judge.

Since there was no timeline as to when Commonwealth Court would rule on the challenge to Shawn Dillon’s candidacy, Democrats could have been left without a candidate on the ballot. Shawn Dillon or some other Democrat could have run as a write-in, but the new voting machines do not make it easy to conduct a successful write-in campaign.

When Shawn Dillon originally won the endorsement, other contenders were state Rep. Ed Neilson, former Lt. Gov. Mike Stack and a couple of ward leaders.

When it became clear a change was needed, there was some talk of nominating a candidate who would serve only the remainder of Sabatina’s term and not run for re-election in 2024. A couple of ward leaders and Shawn Dillon’s wife and brother were considered, according to several Democrats, before Jim Dillon got the nod. ••

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