October 29, 2015
Twelve Philadelphia City Council members gathered in a City Hall reception room on Thursday afternoon to endorse Kevin Dougherty’s campaign for one of three vacant seats on the state Supreme Court.
Speaking first on behalf of Dougherty – who has served as a judge on the Court of Common Pleas since 2001, most notably as administrative judge of Philadelphia Family Court – was Council President Darrell Clarke.
He noted concerns about low turnout at a time when the court will handle issues and cases that could have an impact across the commonwealth for decades to come.
“It is probably more significant than the mayor and Council races in some respects,” said Clarke, rattling off a list of cases that the court could hear, including school funding, voter ID, capital punishment, gun control, redistricting and, among others, the Marcellus Shale. “That’s how important this election is. … We have what we believe is the best candidate for the job.”
“They didn’t endorse Kevin because his brother is a union member you may or may not agree with. [Kevin] is his own person. He came here by himself. His mom said, ‘This is Kevin and Kevin is going to make it on his own.’ He’s done that.” – Marian Tasco, Ninth District city councilwoman
Sixth District Councilman Bobby Henon said the Nov. 3 election marks the “first time in more than 300 years” that all three 10-year Supreme Court terms are up for grabs simultaneously. He, too, worried about the possible impact of low voter turnout in the city.
“In the Urban Dictionary, they call it 'Electile Dysfunction,’” he said (in a somewhat accurate sense), noting that the Democratic council members behind the podium with him would help with get-out-the-vote efforts.
For her part, Ninth District Councilwoman Marian Tasco railed against The Philadelphia Inquirer – without saying the paper’s name – because of its recent endorsement column that left the candidate off its list because he’s the brother of labor leader John Dougherty.
That non-endorsement raised Dougherty's "financial and familial ties" as its reasons for pause.
“I got angry because, you know, back in the day, when I ran for office, they didn’t endorse me. I worked for Congressman Bill Gray, and they didn’t endorse me because I was ‘his girl,’” she said. “They didn’t endorse Kevin because his brother is a union member you may or may not agree with.
“[Kevin] is his own person. He came here by himself. His mom said, ‘This is Kevin and Kevin is going to make it on his own.’ He’s done that.”
For his part, Dougherty said the endorsement of the Democrats on City Council was “incredibly touching to me personally” and paraphrased Maya Angelou’s “sustained by the love of family” line.
Asked afterward whether the Inquirer non-endorsement bothered him, he brushed it off and said his campaign was more focused on connecting with the voters and residents of the commonwealth.
While mayoral candidate Jim Kenney was listed on the press advisory, he didn’t attend. Campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said Kenney supports Dougherty, but the event wasn’t on his schedule.
In addition to Clarke, Henon and Tasco, council members who endorsed Dougherty were Mark Squilla, Kenyatta Johnson, Jannie Blackwell, Curtis Jones, Maria Quinones-Sanchez, Cindy Bass, W. Wilson Goode Jr., Bill Greenlee and Blondell Reynolds Brown.