HD-182: Babette Josephs to Primary Brian Sims


In April 2012, Brian Sims defeated long-time Representative Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) in the Democratic primary.

He won by just 235 votes, and with no general election opponent became the first openly gay representative elected in the state of Pennsylvania.

It was a bitter affair. Sims formerly worked on her campaigns. LGBT groups supported Sims despite the fact that Josephs was the most outspoken ally of the gay community in the House (the district includes Philly’s Gayborhood).

According to several sources close to the House Democrats, Josephs is preparing for a rematch.

UPDATE: Babette confirmed to Philly Daily News’ Chris Brennan that she is running.

Several Democratic sources said Josephs is receiving encouragement from some of her former colleagues.

In his ongoing efforts to build a statewide coalition in the House, Sims has been direct in his support for primary opponents to some of his colleagues. He endorsed Jared Solomon, who is running against Rep. Mark Cohen (D-Phila) and Billy Smith over Rep. Margo Davidson (D-Delaware).

In the 13th congressional district primary, Sims backed state Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) over his colleague, state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Phila).

Two Democrats close to the Philadelphia delegation said Josephs is being encouraged to run by Cohen, Davidson and Boyle. Boyle and Davidson dismissed the suggestion.

Boyle’s campaign denies that there has been any recruiting or involvement in the race.

“Margo is focused on her district and her voters,” Davidson’s campaign manager Shannon Marietta told PoliticsPA. “Instead of focusing on insider gossip, we are focused on the issues of her district – like raising the minimum wage, new job growth and fighting for the underprivileged.”

Cohen declined to comment.

One Philadelphia Democratic operative said Sims’ political maneuvers had opened the door for a challenge.

“It’s very unusual for one incumbent to pick fights with so many of their colleagues,” he said. “I don’t know if [Boyle, Cohen and Davidson] are involved with Babette’s decision, but I can’t say I’d blame them if they were.”

34 Responses

  1. I have a lot of respect for the work Babette did for so many years. One of the reasons I supported Brian before and support him now is the fact that no elected official should spend 30 years in the same position.

    Another factor was Ms. Joseph’s lack of support when I ran for the state house in 2008 in neighboring Delaware County. As one of the first Out candidates to run for the PA legislature, Babette was suggested as a resource who would clearly offer wisdom and support. I made numerous attempts to contact her and never heard back. She did attend a large, high profile fundraising event in the Gayborhood (her district) where she spent more time talking about herself. She donated $50 for the campaign. The only thing I remember hearing her say was that she was glad I wasn’t living and running in her district.

    Brian, on the other had, reached out to me by phone and in person. He donated and encouraged others to the same, offered to go door to door etc. This was years before he ran himself. He even spoke at my school teacher sister’s school to a group of LGBT students and supporters in another state gratis. He really went out of his way and impacted a lot of people without any financial or poliical gain.

    Focusing on his looks seems odd to me. It is like saying a woman candidate will appeal to more straight single men (or lesbians?) if she has large breasts or attractive features. It is so dismissive. Frankly, Brian is kind of short and funny looking to me (not my type) but I think he is an amazing person where it counts: on the inside.

  2. I don’t think Congresspeople should be ward leaders (Brady) or state reps should be committee people.(Sims). It’s not fair to the city or precinct. Did Sims become committeeperson only to have a better chance at getting endorsed by the ward? Since this happened there was no one at our polling place representing the party. Everyone kept asking where is the Democratic committee person who is usually there all day? Where is the committeeperson who registers voters and represents the precinct? I’m excited to hear Babette is back in the race. She represented us well in Hbg.

  3. And so today I receive a fundraising e-mail from Brian Sims who is apparently upset that his opponents have “chosen to marginalize him based on his sexual identity.”

    Seriously?? How do you make that a focal point of your career, use it for votes and fundraising purposes, and then get upset when people point it out?

    The logic here escapes me.

  4. I supported Brian when he ran two years ago thinking he’d work hard for issues important to his district.

    Instead, I feel like we got a celebrity politician who was more interested in going to parties with DC politicians than to just stay home and work for his constituents. As if he’s more interested in what’s next rather than what we elected him to do here in Pennsylvania.

    His office is staffed with prima donnas who couldn’t give a rat’s behind about actually doing any work. His ego has become intolerable. And I still can’t figure out what he’s actually accomplished in the last two years.

    Babette might be older and not as pretty to look at, but at least things got done, she had the relationships to make things happen. Having Brian is like sitting in neutral. Total waste of time.

  5. Also, his office staff leaves much to be desired. They seem to all be young, vacuous, and self-absorbed. His chief of staff was practically hired just out of law school and probably only got the job because of his good looks. Also, that Barbie Doll he hired spends her time picking her nose and chatting with people rather than doing her job.

  6. I was a supporter and voter of Brian’s when he ran back in 2012. I believed in change and reform, plus, Babette was that old grey mare that ain’t what she used to be. Now, I believe that he is nothing more than trying to replace “Big Boss Brady” with “Big Boss Brian” on all levels, from elected office to even PAC boards.

    In 2013, after he took office, a lot of Sims’ personal confidants joined the board of the Liberty City Democrats. Also, at the time, Sims was gearing up to try to get his guy Brett Mandel elected controller. Funny thing is, Brett and his campaign surrogates attacked the LGBT candidate in the race, Michael P. Williams (a well respected individual that has mentored hundreds of people and has been suffering from health problems), with innuendo that his lawfirm and even his sexuality was fake. Furthermore, at the same time, Josh Kruger, a known Sims ally, started weaving dizzying conspiracy theories about the Liberty City Democrats, the PGN, the Sheriff’s Office, Alan Butkovitz, Mark Segal, and Micah Mahjoubian, which may have been a ploy to guilt Liberty City into supporting Mandel, lest they look like some sinister organization that operates in shade.

    Well, Mandel got the endorsement. I did not like Big Boss Brady’s candidate (Butkovitz) nor Big Boss Brian’s candidate (Mandel). However, as Mandel lost, Sims has decided to get revenge on Butkovitz’s supporters, including supporting Jared Solomon over Mark Cohen (a vocal Butkovitz supporter). Furthermore, a well-respected activist was actually denied a position on LC’s board due to their support of Butkovitz.

    Now, I see Cameron Kline, a known Sims ally, is working as McCord’s press secretary. I wonder what political consequences will come to him for betraying Brian (an Allyson Schwartz supporter).

  7. Spare us with the “he’s not a good legislator because he is taking sides in the primary” routine. All of the Reps and Senators, at one point, support one colleague over another. This shouldn’t be a surprise-What got Sims in trouble is that he did it a bit more publicly than most (which, in my book, is more admirable than doing it behind people’s back and lying about it-Yes, I am talking to you Rep Mike Vereb). To those who are picking up for the Reps being “targeted” by Sims: Davidson is a hack and she’s one of the most hated at the Capitol (just ask the LA’s in Irvis and her former Chief of Staff) and Cohen- Well, if you want to see your tax dollars at work, look no further than Cohen’s book collection at his office- that’s how he spends YOUR money through the per diem process. It doesn’t matter anyway- this seat doesn’t matter in the grand scheme as it will always be liberal. Next.

  8. I never thought there could be a more arrogant and rude representative than Babette Josephs. Brian Sims proved me wrong.

    This guy has spent more time alienating than working with his colleagues or upholding his sworn oath to work on behalf of his constituents.

    Surely this district must have a candidate more worthy of the office than Josephs or Sims.

  9. Margo Davidson is barely a democrat, and Cohen had a great career but is way past due for retirement. If you think that this is the first time a dem backed a challenger to a colleague, you really need to think again.

    Theres absolutely no reason not to support a decent challenger. We should focus on quality of of the people we elect. Dont let politics trump good policy

  10. I have no problem with Sims supporting challengers to Davidson and Cohen. Both are poor elected officials in my book, mostly in it for themselves. Especially Cohen, he just wants the per diem gravy train to keep on filling his pockets. If any incumbent democrat needs to be taken out its him.

  11. Brian Sims and all other incumbents should stay the hell out of other districts’ primaries.

    Look what happened when Mon Valley boy Marc Gergely inserted himself into the 2012 primary in another county, trying to get another Mon Valley boy elected over the endorsed Democrat? The Dem committee people were insulted and angry, voters in the general were just not interested in having Gergely’s Mon Valley lackey as their state rep, and the GOP incumbent will probably keep that seat for years. Thanks Marc.

    Brian Sims, please learn a lesson from this. As Connie said, you are never going to get marriage equality or anything else passed with the Democratic party split, wasting resources and good will fighting each other, and Republicans keeping control of everything.

  12. All you need to know about Babette is that she snuck into the Capitol building while you were sleeping, broke the state Constitution and voted herself an illegal pay raise and pension hike. If you want that kind of trash back in the cesspool PA assembly, have at it Phillthy. Decades of gullible voting for one-party rule means you’re headed for a Detroit-like bankruptcy regardless.

  13. 14 terms in office is way too long for one individual. The world is changing and with that comes the need for fresh ideas from different perspectives. We all need to move past the days of career politicians.

  14. The real sad part about this is Brian’s decision to go after Democrats in primaries as opposed to using his popularity and charisma to help elect Democrats against Republicans. I just don’t get it. He should help grow Democratic resources to build a majority, not waste them in primaries. Does Brian think that he can pass marriage equality with a Republican majority? As a supporter of his, I wish he would focus on helping his team win and fight Republicans.

  15. This is great news. Sims has been taking focus away from progressive values by inserting himself into primary endorsements that, at least in the State House, have created acrimony in the Philadelphia caucus. We need unity, not infighting, to ensure that Philadelphia isn’t continually shaken down for taxes to pay for the rest of the state, then get nothing in return. Babette has been an excellent champion for Philadelphians, and I applaud her jumping back into the campaign trail.

  16. Sure, but you have to understand that I’m not an opponent of Mr. Sims.

    I would vote for him in this race if I lived in this district.

    My comment isn’t against him. It is against your comment. It is not political retribution– it is the reality of politics. Mr. Sims has jumped into primaries, and when you do that, you create enemies. So yes, he is going to get a primary challenge and yes, those that he has angered by interfering in their primaries will surely jump into this one. Makes sense.

  17. To James Duggan: political retribution at its worst?! Mr. Sims has been waging war with moderate-conservative Democrats for a year and a half. He has jumped into multiple primaries, which is unprecedented for a first term member.

    The support for Babette, if there really is any, is all a creation of Mr. Sims himself. He only has himself to blame. And this is coming from a fan of Brian.

  18. I heard about this last week and asked Mark Cohen what his involvement in this was and he inferred in a series of emails that he was unhappy with Sims supporting Jared Solomon’s run against him. Could this be political retribution at its worst?

  19. Rudy – way way way over the top. Sims is an international star? Hahahahahaha
    Did Brian write that comment for you??

  20. Rep. Sims has had an incredibly productive 1st term in office. His constituent services, including Welcome Wednesdays, lunch and learns, town halls, wellness fair, and job fairs have gone above and beyond the call of duty, providing the residents of the 182nd district a high level of access to state government, as well as free education on issues ranging from navigating the ACA, resources to reduce home one’s energy bills, free messaging training for nonprofits and social enterprises, and more.

    His representation of the 182nd in Harrisburg has also been exemplary. He stood up against ridiculous anti-woman, anti-abortion legislation that won him national attention, including an award from NARAL. Yet in spite of an unabashedly progressive voting agenda, he is building relationships with some of the most conservative members of the house to work on common-sense, bi-partisan legislation like the merit selection of judges. Further, I don’t know how many (if any) state representatives in the US are tapped to represent America overseas, but Ambassador Caroline Kennedy’s invitation to Rep. Sims to accompany her on an official trip to Japan indicates that his years of work for progressive issues in the state, long preceding his tenure in the House, is the stuff of a citizen servant that warrants international respect.

    I was proud to support Brian Sims in his first election, I am proud to serve as his PAC chair, and if it is even possible, I am even *more* proud now than ever before to support him in seeking a second term.

  21. I think both are great progressives, and I have had good working relationships with both of them. Babette has been keeping herself busy with the Justice For Nizah committee (which is basically trying to get justice for an unsolved murder of a transgender woman in this city). I do not like some of Brian’s picks for office (such as Daylin “defender of rapists” Leach and Jared “CDC” Solomon, ew), but I think his record needs to be most focused on.

    All in all, I don’t really have a horse in this race.

  22. More girl power stuff:

    A man is more likely to run again after losing than a woman. Why is that?

    If Babette does decide to run again, then she must believe she has something positive to offer and the confidence in herself needed to make a difference. She is living up to her reputation as a bold female who never gives up fight!

  23. Babette has a lot to offer this time around. I’ve heard the level of constituent services has gone way down the last two years. People used to get their cases handled right away and now they never hear back.

    If Babette does decide to run – I say GO GIRL!!!!

  24. Sims is a strong leader and voice for his district not just the LGBT community. He is also a strong progressive and should encourage his caucus to do the same. Brian you have the support of many not only in your district but across the nation who believe in your values and your hard work in making Pennsylvania progressive, instead of regressive.

  25. Sims is all about Sims and only Sims. The ego is amazing. Btw, the NARAL award he got a couple weeks ago was a joke. I lost a lot of respect for that group for awarding a self-promoting lightweight like Sims. For what exactly? What really hard stand has he taken or difficult votes has he cast for being pro-choice from the 182nd? It’s like someone ar NARAL was bought and paid for.

  26. Given that most of the substance of this post was denied by 2/3 of the subjects of the innuendo, this post should really be run under a *gossip* heading.
    As for Sims backing more progressive candidates over his “colleagues,” good for him. Having an elected official who actively advocates for more and better Democrats, rather than becoming just another schmoozy, go-along-to-get-along career politician is a feature, not a bug.

  27. Brendan Boyle isn’t Brian Sims’ State Rep – he’s his own Rep!

    “In the 13th congressional district primary, Sims backed state Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) over his state Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Phila).”

  28. Sims has done a real good job. Yeah he may be a raging liberal, but he’s also worked to be bipartisan. I think it’s safe to assume that if this rumor turns out true, it won’t be a close race this time around. Sims by a landslide.

    I accidentally posted on wrong article so forgive the repeat comment

  29. Brian works hard for the constituents inside his district and others of us all across Pennsylvania. I hope the voters of the 182nd district recognize that he does a fine job.

    And Larry… Grow up!

  30. Brian works tirelessly for his constituents. He’s holds town hall meetings and seminars to help people access state government. He has been effective at pushing progressive values in Harrisburg. I hope Babette Josephs does not run again, but instead works to help elect more Democrats to all levels of office throughout the state. Brian Sims is doing an excellent job and we could only be so fortunate to have more people like him in our state government!

  31. Sims is pretty popular and more well known since his original primary against Josephs.

    I doubt the voters of the 182nd will have any interest in the insider-politics of Sims involving himself in other races.

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