Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Report

BY:Rookie Perna| September 26, 2001

Report given to the National Committee

I want to first thank Jarvis for the report to this meeting and I want to
thank the 2000 election committee for its tireless work throughout this
year. I want to especially thank Jarvis for his very important contribution
to our PWW Banquet, attended by
a number of trade unionists who very much needed our Party’s approach to
the elections.

Let me first start with a part of our district where we have little
organization and little or no impact as a Party on the elections. This
is the state of Delaware. Despite that, Delaware gave its three electoral
votes to Gore. Senator Roth, the ultra-right, five-term Republican was
defeated. Also in Delaware, in the Governor’s race, a Democratic woman
was elected, making her the first woman to serve in this position in the

Now to Eastern Pennsylvania. Gore took the state! In Philadelphia, the
vote was unprecedented. Gore’s vote of more than 435,000 to a Bush vote
of just over 98,000 is what helped to win the state of Pennsylvania as
a whole. Philadelphia’s very high voter turn out produced a 95% African
American vote for Gore. While we do not have concrete figures, I suspect
the Latino vote was similar.

What led to this kind of vote? During the campaign, Philadelphia was
faced with the possibility of a strike by the Philadelphia Federation
of Teachers. Two years ago Act 46 was passed by our State Legislature
that was designed to destroy the public school system and the union. While
more than 15,000 teachers voted to strike the day after Labor Day, the
leadership of the union forestalled giving the mandatory 48 hours notice
for a strike until a week and a half before election day this following
the Democratic Mayor Street’s imposition of new work rules the week before.
There was great fear, despite the union’s assurances that they would not
interfere with the election, a strike on election day would prevent people
from going to the polls in Public Schools for not wanting to cross picket
lines. The head of the Democratic Party, Bob Brady sat in on all negotiation
that brought about a sell out, eleventh hour settlement. I personally
feel that this possible strike had an impact on the GOTV activity the
last days before the election and on Election Day itself.

Prior to Election Day the trade union movement was active in this campaign
with a number of unions doing phone banking for many weeks before the
election. The NAACP carried on a very active voter registration drive.
Gore was in the city on many occasions during the campaign. The Democratic
Party said they needed a 350,000 plurality in Philadelphia in order to
win the state. The 435,000 plurality was record breaking for any presidential

Election Day itself was very interesting. When I went to the polls to
vote, there were no poll workers. However, in canvassing all day with
our car PA system, I saw many people walking the streets doing door to
door GOTV. This is unprecedented in Philadelphia or has been for many
years. Jessie Jackson was brought into Philly two hours before the polls
closed to GOTV. The NAACP did Election Day door to door distributions
to get out the vote in many communities.

The three Philadelphia Democratic Congressmen were reelected. The nearby
Montgomery County reelection of Joe Hoeffel was also won by a large vote
despite a majority Republican registration in that county. However, Philadelphia
is up for reapportionment as a result of the census and we will be losing
a Congressperson. It is our feeling in the district that they will go
after Hoeffel’s seat causing a difficult situation in the city.

We also had a steelworker running for Congress in the 15th Congressional
District basically the Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton area. Ed Obrien ran
a very good campaign. Of the more than 203,000 votes cast, Obrien lost
by a less than 10,000-vote margin.

While a lot of work was done in the whole of the district there were
many problems with the campaign outside of Allentown. Campaign workers
complained that signs were taken down as soon as they were put up in Northampton

In the state Legislature, Frank Salvatore a 16 year Republican reactionary
from Philadelphia was defeated. There is also the contested race to defeat
the Republican speaker of the House, John Perzell, who is holding on to
his seat by 50 votes.

The vote for the U.S. Senate is the real heart breaker. The Democratic
Party gave up on the Klink campaign the day after the primary election.
Torcelli, the Democratic fundraiser said there would be no money for Klink
because the primary was so contentious (6 candidates ran and of course
we did not end up with the best). Here again there was a projection that
Philadelphia had to produce a 350,000-vote plurality in order to win the
Senate seat. Two weeks before the election, Klink’s office was closed
in Philadelphia and not a single ad appeared on TV in the east during
the whole campaign. Despite this lack of recognition even of his name,
Kling took Philly with more than 326,000 votes. He lost the election by
about 2%. With just a little campaigning in the east Klink could have
won in Pennsylvania.

Role of the Party in Eastern PA.

Our comrades worked with their unions in phone banking. We had an ongoing
voter registration drive. I can’t count how many pieces of literature
and campaign material that we handed out. Our campaign got a jump-start
with the first the AFSCME and AFT conventions at which thousands of packets
were distributed with PWWs and
elections materials and the demonstrations that took place at the Republican
Party Convention in Philadelphia were all part of election work in the
District. Our Party was a full coalition partner in both the Unity 2000
coalition as well as the Health Care coalition. We were able to get Jarvis
on the platform and he spoke at the rally a first for a Party spokesperson
at a National demonstration in many a year, if ever since the thirties.

We had several district wide mobilizations where we did tabling and
door to door work in a couple of concentration communities. We sent people
to Allentown twice to work on the Obrien campaign. Tim was in Allentown,
did an article, and the PWW and our participation was very welcome.

On Election Day itself we had numbers of people on the street doing
campaign work and we ended the evening with a dinner at our center to
watch the returns. The Party did start to campaign almost a year ago.
We pushed to get recognition for Klink in the east. We feel that this
long-term campaign gave impetus to others and did have a tremendous effect
on the campaign as a whole.


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