So let's talk about the PA5 Democratic congressional primary race. The Supreme Court has said that our former district, PA7, was gerrymandered as helllll, and redrew us some new districts that don't look like Disney characters kicking each other in the bum. Brandywine Roller District is no more!
I'm now a part of the gloriously compact District 5, which includes much of Delaware County and some of South Philly. I'll take it.
ALSO, our current PA7 rep, Patrick Meehan, has finally stepped down! Because he is an old white dude who feels entitled to women and finally, finally, people are beginning to see that that is gross. Also he used public money to pay for the fact that he's gross. ANYWAY, fuck off, Meehan, at least this explains why you've done NO WORK all year, GTFO.
With this sucking void in the political landscape, no less than TEN democratic candidates have stepped up to run for the new PA5. This is: great, overwhelming, annoying, and an excellent reason why we should have ranked choice voting. That is A LOT of candidates and there is not A LOT of solid, coherent info out there about all of them.
Onwards! Standard disclaimer: I'm not a journalist, all opinions are my own, if you're not interested in how a progressive Jewish feminist feels about politics, you really don't need to engage with me. I often engage in leaps of logistical shorthand. (But if you've got links to actual interviews or news articles about any of these candidates, let me have 'em.)
Greg Vitali has been my local state rep since forever. Seriously, 25 years. I know him, he's great. He's really astounding at being secretly progressive - like, MY DAD votes for this guy every year. MY DAD. Greg has always done a lot with peanuts, and he's one of the few people running who I trust to actually know how to do the actual job of being a congressional rep. Greg also once said BOTH the words "Israel" AND "Palestine" when answering a question about the Middle East, which puts him light years ahead of everyone who just tries to dodge that question.
Mary Gay Scanlon is the Radnor Democrat endorsed candidate. She seems fine, but she's also totally comfortable calling the area up on North Third Street (where all the startups are) "N3RD St" so take that white feminism with a grain of weird gentrifying salt. If she wins, I'm totally comfortable voting for her in the general, she's just not my horse in this particular race. She's coming in to this as a pro-bono lawyer in a large firm, with a very good grasp on the criminal justice reforms that the system needs. She's personal friends with some Comcast bigwigs and has a lot of lawyer-friends contributing to her campaign, but none of it strikes me as a politick-ing sort of way. This is simply her life, and these are her people, and at the end of things, the conspiracy-theorying cries of corruption seem like just that. But if coming from money bothers you on principal, she might not be for you.
Rich Lazer is a South Philly pro-union guy with a big Super PAC from the union guys and the endorsment of Jim Kenney (and, as of this afternoon on May 11, Bernie Sanders). You know if you're in to that.
Larry Arata has a bad website. Sorry, Larry. In a field 10 candidates deep, you can't leave the permalink for your Issues page as "/angenda"
Lindy Li doesn't have a website, only a Facebook page, which in 2018 is either brilliant or completely weird. She seems to have a bunch of campaign $$ (based on the number of signs I've seen around town, the mailings, and the offer of $125 per person stationed outside of polling places on election day - if you need $125 this Tuesday, maybe hop on that?), took a picture with Meek Mill and... that's all I can really find about her? I *want* to like her, but other than a generic progressive platform I just don't know anything about what she's about. She's very active on social media and seems like a genuinely nice, passionate person, but like Scanlon, she's just not the one for me in this particular election. *ETA* She's all in on AIPAC, and if you're in to that, rad, but as a Jew who isn't entirely comfortable with the decisions Israel is making these days, I'm gonna nope right out of this one.
Margo Davidson has been serving as the rep for the 164th since 2011. She was invovled in two hit and runs this past winter (perpetrator) which is... odd, at the very least? Her website doesn't provide platforms (it's not a campaign website, it's her PA Rep website), so I'm unclear where her priorities are besides gun violence and that's basically it. The few of her current constituents that I've spoken to aren't huge fans - some are actively disenclined, most just like lots of people in this better than her.
Molly Sheehan was originally set to run against Pat Meehan, and that hasn't changed. I like Molly a lot. She's progressive AF and a scientist. She quotes Isaac Asimov on her website, which is both great (I love Asimov) if not problematic (Asimov wasn't without his misogynistic gasbag qualities.)
Shelly Chauncey is fresh off her '17 JD. She seems to tick all the boxes, but after My Life in Student Government I just can't bring myself to vote for the mystery box.
Thaddeus Kirkland doesn't mention Women's Healthcare at all as a prominent platform issue so, y'know, thanks but no thanks.
Ashley Lunkenheimer: it is really weird to have your parents pay for your Super PAC. Even on the Main Line.
At the end of the 400 people running for PA5, I'm between Vitali and Sheehan. And I'm aware that if I didn't have a personal connection to Greg, I would be firmly in Sheehan's camp. Both are firmly progressive on the environment and women's health. They both support scaling back from the military-industrial complex, but Vitali seems to be more concrete in how he would like to see that done. Sheehan has a better grasp of the intersectionality of civil issues, include justice reform, though I think Vitali could get there.
This has been a hard decision for me, because my gut wants to get all the white men out of everything (and Vitali isn't perfect) but at the end of the day, I trust Vitali to do the things I want him to do and to actually be able to operate within the system that we have. His stealth ability to get people like my dad to vote for him in spite of all their political differences really can't be overstated. (Or even logically explained, but I'll take it.) I like Sheehan A LOT, but this is PA and I can only vote for one of them, so while I'll probably waffle up til primary day, right now I'm leaning Vitali.