HD-170: Boyle-Stack Power Struggle Threatens Party

Boyle-StackThe elevation of Brendan Boyle from the PA State House to the United States Congress should be a celebratory moment for the Philly Democratic Party.

Instead, under the surface, a power struggle quietly brews over who his replacement in Northeast Philadelphia’s 170th district should be. This struggle threatens to tear the local party apart and perhaps even cost Democrats the race.

On one side are the Boyle brothers. Sons of a father who moved to America and worked as a janitor, the two have accomplished quite a lot. Older brother Brendan is now a U.S. Congressman representing PA’s 13th District, while younger brother Kevin is a State Representative from the 172nd District.

They have been strongly pushing the candidacy of Seth Kaplan, who has worked for both brothers. Kaplan was named one of PoliticsPA’s top operatives of 2014 for his work in Brendan’s victory in the four-way PA-13 Democratic primary.

The Boyle group contends that they have the support of the party leadership in Harrisburg and several local unions.

On the other side is Mike Stack. The State Senator is just days away from becoming the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, the proverbial heartbeat away from the top office in the commonwealth. The future Lt. Gov has his own ideas about who should get this seat.

Several sources indicated that Stack is leaning towards John Del Ricci, the Community Liaison for Councilman James F. Kenney and works for the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

While careful to note that Del Ricci hasn’t officially declared himself a candidate, one source in the Lt. Governor’s orbit spoke of how highly Stack thinks of him. Del Ricci was described as Stack’s “longest friend politically or otherwise.”

The 170th is entirely within the county of Philadelphia, so each county committee member who lives in the district votes on the nomination.

The Lt. Gov-Elect is the leader in Philly’s 58th ward and holds a majority of the votes. Even someone close to Kaplan described the choice as ultimately Mike Stack’s decision.

Both sides downplay any competition but both are clearly working to line up their supporters ahead of the committee vote.

Nor is it just a friendly competition. Both sides are working their opposition research operations. Asked about some charges from the Boyle camp, a Stack supporter dismissed it out of hand. “Someone is obviously afraid and perceives [Del Ricci] as a threat,” he said.

The committee vote, however, may not be the final factor. A source close to Kaplan said he is open to running as an independent.

“Seth is very actively considering a run as an independent Democrat in the race. He would definitely be supported in an independent run by several unions in the Philadelphia Building Trades and also likely the public sector. He will make a formal decision in a week’s time.”

Any independent or third-party candidate would have to acquire 300 signatures to be placed on the ballot.

All the while, the GOP is hoping to use the infighting to their advantage. They’ve already named their nominee, Martina White. Of course, a split in the Democratic Party would leave White in a favorable position.

Speaker Mike Turzai scheduled the special election for March 24th. The filing deadline for all candidates is February 2nd.

January 14th, 2015 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 12 Comments

12 thoughts on “HD-170: Boyle-Stack Power Struggle Threatens Party”

  1. Florance says:

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  2. Steve Somerton says:

    I’m hearing Seth has a horrible track record. Drugs, abusive husband with a restraining order. I heard there are pay outs to college students that worked for the Boyles for sexual harassment . I also heard he stole money from the Somerton Civic.

  3. Lynda c. says:

    Just listened to both messages from these two ladies. I must say Sarah DelRicci sounded sincere, direct and experienced in getting what she needs to help other people! Martina White was prompted by questions, which is ok, but will she need prompting getting things done?

  4. ABCDEF says:

    Does anybody know what the timeline is for this decision within the Philly party?

  5. Lois Herr says:

    Let’s find a good woman to run.

  6. tommyd says:

    As an outsider, I would recommend the Democrats stay far away from anyone connected to the Turnpike Commission.

  7. DELCO Observer says:

    Shannon is misreading the Philadelphia Dem Rules – Those only apply to offices for which the County Committee can nominate – City Council, Mayor, Sheriff, etc. not the state offices. Thank you Chuck Bronson for your illumination.

  8. David Diano says:

    I don’t think the voters give a rat’s ass who Brady picks. If the local district committee is overruled by the county committee, they will likely rebel and hand out whatever sample ballots they want.

    This is going to come down to which candidate has better ground game and fundraising in a very low turnout election, as most voters don’t even know who their state rep is or what leg district they are in. So, when the ads come on TV/radio, they will not even know they can vote, unless they get a direct mail piece or a knock on the door telling them about the special election.

  9. brian says:

    Seth is weak and your last name isn’t Boyle. Hes a puppet

  10. Shannon says:

    This is from the latest changes in the Philadelphia Democratic Party rules:
    Rule X, Article 4, Section C was amended to add a provision allowing the County Committee to reject the recommendation of a district caucus for the purpose of nominating a candidate for a Special Election. The following working was added:
    “Provided, however, that should the County Committee reject the district caucus nomination, the matter in issue shall be referred to the district caucus for a further consideration and recommendation, and should the County Committee again reject the recommendation of the district caucus, the County Committee shall then make the required nomination; and the aforesaid certificate shall so state.”

  11. ChuckBronson says:

    Actually it will be the Executive Committee of State Democratic Party based on the recommendation of those county committee members residing within the district who will make the final decision. Stop the drama folks, it is not necessary!

  12. Jessica says:

    This story fails to mention that the Philadelphia Democratic Party Rules that were changed this year allow for Congressman Brady to reject the committee people’s vote regardless of who wins. So really Brady will get to decide ultimately who gets this seat and no one else.

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