Thursday, May 22, 2014

Coping with the post-election blues

I’m usually depressed after an election. The candidates I support often don’t make it. This year my major disappointment was down ballot. I was reconciled to the idea of Tom Wolfe’s winning the gubernatorial race and I expect he will be a strong general election candidate.

However, I saw this election as an opportunity to elect several seriously good candidates to the state legislature and most of them lost. Sure, it was very disappointing but I don’t see this as the worst night for progressives in recent memory.

There is a real case to be made that the glass is half-full. Many good candidates lose their first run for office. The first run raises their profile and gives them an opportunity to hone their skills as campaigners. Young progressives like Brian Gralnick, Emily Rodriguez, Jared Solomon, and Billy Smith will in all probability run for public office again. These candidates are not going away.

As Emily Rodriguez put it in an email to her supporters:
That was the question my neighbors kept asking when I left my house yesterday, the morning after the election: "I voted for you, Miss Emily. Did you win?"

Not at the polls, but everywhere else we went, it's a resounding yes.

We ran a great campaign defined by integrity and respect, and we can all be proud of the seeds of hope that were planted in North Philadelphia.

To every voter, volunteer, donor, and cheerleader, thank you. Thank you, Karen. Thank you for your support, your encouragement, and for being there with me and my team throughout this journey.

Until next time, if you need me I'll be out in the community doing the same work I would have done if elected, equipped with new knowledge and new ideas, thanks to this race. I'd call that a win.
We need to support talented young progressives—even if we expect they won’t win the first time. I knew that Emily Rodriguez and Brian Gralnick (and others) were long shots, but when there are young progressive candidates, with their intellect, knowledge of issues, commitment to public service, I want to support them as an investment in the future. Actually, given that Brian Gralnick had no backing from elected officials (other than 9th ward committeepeople), he did quite well for a newcomer.

The newspaper headlines focus on the negative— “Most newcomers lose to party and union backing” , but the news articles describe the seeds of change. As challenger Tomas Sanchez put it:

"This was never about how other people would interpret what we were doing," he said. "We have a long-term strategy that will become apparent more and more over the years."

…"We showed people that we have courage," S├ínchez said. "I see this growing. ... I'm not happy with the leadership in my community."

Another hopeful sign, in Philly we have a lot more young progressives who ran for committeeperson this time with an eye to building the infrastructure we’ll need to actually elect progressive candidates. Also, there were far more write in-candidates this time. Jon Greeting's interactive map letting people know where there were vacancies was a tremendous resource. There actually was a buzz about running for committee person. Is running for committeeperson becoming a cool thing to do?

Friday, May 16, 2014

It’s not too late to mount a write-in campaign for committeeperson!

It’s not too late to mount a write-in campaign for committeeperson! The Democratic Party infrastructure is in a sorry state with many committeeperson slots going unfilled.

Thanks to Jon Geeting we have an interactive map which shows exactly where the vacancies occur. Great job, Jon! Please see the map
on his blog at Keystone Politics and also posted on the New Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus (PDPC)website.

I have found both in the workshops NOW/CLUW conducted in2013/2014 and in the committeeperson workshops NOW conducted a decade ago, that often people become interested in running for committeeperson, but learn about the process too late and miss the deadline for filing petitions.

However failing to get on the ballot does not necessarily preclude winning a race in these low turn-out elections. It is difficult (although not impossible) to win a write-in campaign against a candidate who is on the ballot. However, it is very easy to win a write-in campaign when there is an open slot for committeeperson.

A write-in campaign is a more viable option than I once realized. (For years, I had been under the impression that 10 signatures were required.) I checked with Commissioner Singer’s office and found to my surprise that assuming a write-in candidate is the only candidate for an open slot, only one signature is necessary to win!

In other words, if Candidate A for committeeperson gets 100 votes and Candidate B for committeeperson gets one write-in vote, then both are elected-- assuming that there is no other write-in candidate with a higher vote total.

Commissioner Singer has also posted detailed instructions for write-in votes here

There are also write in options for Democratic State Committee although there are far fewer possibilities as there only about 50 slots as opposed to about 3400 for Democratic committeeperson (2 slots per division).

State committee slots are allotted by senatorial district. A list of candidates is posted here

Scroll down to page 93 for the list of Philadelphia candidates for Democratic State Committee. They are listed by senatorial district and the number of slots is noted. In the first district it says "Vote for not more than 8." Nine candidates are listed, so this district would not be an easy one for a write in-candidate to win. There are a few senatorial districts with more slots available than there are candidates and thus opportunities for a write-in candidate.

There is more interest in committeeperson elections this year than I can ever remember with excellent coverage by Emily Guendelsberger and Jon Geeting. See

Feibush vs. the machine

30th Ward Reformer Fight: Are New Philadelphians Finally Flexing Their Political Muscle?

I don't think I would vote for some of these newcomers (e.g. Ori Feibush), but in a city in which less than 10% of the voters turned out in the 2013 primary election, this energy and interest in grassroots political involvement is to be applauded.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Akebono, the most beautiful tulip in the world

This was a good year for tulips- - at least it was in my garden. Usually the underground critters eat most of my tulip bulbs, but this year they decided to leave me almost all of my tulips. And Akebono was the star. It begins looking like a regular tulip but as the bulb opens it looks more and more like a peony.

It’s a soft yellow with petals rimmed by a thin line of brilliant red. It also has the virtue of lasting a really long time as a cutflower.

The only downside is that when it’s fading, Akebono turns into the ugliest tulip in the world-–no need to include a photo of that.

I’m now down to a few late tulips including one of my favorite combinations, deep purple (almost black) Queen of the Night, paired with Maureen, an incredibly long lasting cream colored tulip which matures to a bright white.

The tulip season is (sadly) winding down but the tree peonies are beginning!

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Delaware Valley in mid-spring has got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth!

Cornell's Pink Rhododendron

During my working years, I always felt that the glory of mid-spring went by so quickly. There would be a brief glimpse of early flowering shrubs and then they were gone. I thought that when I retired I would be able to take it in much more slowly, but somehow it hasn’t worked out that way.

In preparation for old age gardening, I slowly converted my garden from a perennial garden to a mixture of perennials and easy care flowering shrubs. They are all incredibly beautiful but their flowers last for just a few days--if we have serious storms, they are literally here today, gone tomorrow. The show begins with the delicate flowers of deciduous rhododendron Cornell's Pink.

Then the PJM evergreen rhododendron which has the advantage of foliage which darkens to deep purple as the season progresses.

Cherries have the briefest period of bloom of all--especially true of the purple sandcherry which also has the advantage of reddish purple foliage to break up the midsummer wall of green (The downside of flowering shrubs is that for the most part it is a spring show.)
Purple Sandcherry

The shrubs are all blooming later than usual this year but the succession of bloom never changes, the cherries after the early rhodos, the redbud trees with their gorgeous purplish flowers and graceful shape always bloomimg with the cherries and with the astonishingly fragrant early viburnums, followed by the dogwoods and crabapples. So what if they often bloom for less than a week?

Carlesi Viburnum

Crabapple Indian Summer

The azaleas and lilacs are just beginning to emerge.

Emerging azalea

The first lilac

I can never get enough of that lilac fragrance. The Delaware Valley in mid-spring has got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth.