Big Victories for Local Candidates in General Election: Here’s What’s Next

Progressives scored historic victories in the 2019 General Election for local candidates in both Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.  Philly Neighborhood Networks deployed scores of volunteers who canvassed and Got Out the Vote for our endorsed candidates.  Those votes were vital to vaulting Kendra Brooks into a minority seat on City Council- the first time an independent candidate has won that seat in 100 years.  Just as importantly, four nearby counties flipped their county governments from Republican to Democrat.  Philly NN is part of a progressive movement that was largely responsible for these wins, and that is changing the face of politics in the Philadelphia area.

Kendra Brooks Wins Historic Victory in Philly

Philly NN went all out to support our two endorsed candidates for City Council At Large, Kendra Brooks and Nicolas O’Rourke, who ran on the Working Families Party ticket. 130 members of Philly Neighborhood Networks knocked doors, made phone calls, hosted fundraisers, donated money and stood at the polls to greet voters and talk about these two great candidates. Our work was part of a massive, citywide undertaking by a broad coalition of organizations and individuals in the progressive community.

Kendra Brooks garnered 60,256 votes and won one of the minority seats that had always gone to a Republican.  Nicolas O’Rourke fell short with 46,560 votes. Because of the interest in this race and the extensive outreach operation that contacted 300,000 voters, voter turnout was up everywhere in Philly in 2019, as compared to the two prior off year elections of 2017 and 2015.

Kudos to the Philly NN Volunteer Army, 130 strong. We reached out to more than 8,400 voters and had 2,600 conversations. That’s a contact rate of 30% – the highest we’ve seen in the campaign, and it is due to the fact that we canvass our own neighbors. 

On Election Day, we had volunteers at almost every polling location in Mt. Airy & Chestnut Hill, and many other voting places across NW Philly. In many of our covered NW Philly Divisions, our endorsed candidates got 35-49% of the vote. The role of the emerging left in Kendra’s victory was recognized in this Phila Inquirer article, including the part that Philly NN played in NW Philadelphia. 

Kendra Brook’s victory was a victory not just for the candidate herself, but for the massive coalition of groups and individuals that supported Kendra. The campaign was run entirely on the issues that we care about – providing quality public education, affordable housing, criminal justice, and worker’s rights. Voters embraced this bold agenda and together this coalition has the opportunity to reshape the political future in Philadelphia.

Huge Wins in the Suburbs

Philly NN is also part of the effort to Turn Pa Blue – we have a dedicated core of volunteers who went to the suburbs to support local candidates for office.  Four county governments in the nearby counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Lehigh became Democratically- Controlled, one for the first time ever. In addition, Democrats won several local seats for school boards and municipal offices.  This is part of the blue wave that is swelling as we seek to Turn the Pa Legislature Blue in the 2020 election.

What’s Next 

As Kendra Brooks noted in the post-election celebration, getting elected is just the beginning:  

I’m asking you to go home and double down on this fight. Because getting in the door is just the first step. In the poorest big city in the country, where fortune 500 companies and multibillion-dollar health systems, where privatizers and landlords and so-called developers have a stranglehold on our politics, we’re facing an uphill battle. If we want to win, we’ve got to get ready.

We have much to do to make this City a better place in which to live and work.  Philly Neighborhood Networks looks forward to working with our members and volunteers in this continuing struggle.

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Margaret Lenzi

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