Friday, July 28, 2017

Why was Bob Brady so concerned about getting Judge Jimmie Moore out of the 2012 congressional race?



Why was Bob Brady so concerned about getting Judge Jimmie Moore out of the 2012 congressional race? Given his campaign war chest and long standing ties with ward leaders and elected officials in the district, Brady should not have been too worried. However, if Moore had stayed in the race and done reasonably well, he would have exposed Brady’s vulnerability as a white congressperson representing a largely African-American district and encouraged future challengers.

It’s likely Brady was as threatened by the issues Moore was raising as by the electoral threat he posed. Moore was the lone voice publicly and repeatedly attacking Brady for his role in the 2012 redistricting battle and wrote an open letter reprimanding Brady for his collusion with Republicans.

Moore’s challenge to Brady received little attention from the local press, but did garner some state and national coverage. PoliticsPA’s Keegan Gibson, reported that in “An Open Letter to Robert Brady, Honorary Chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party,” Moore accused Brady of supporting the Republican Party’s agenda. From Moore’s letter:

Despite the new map’s overwhelming favorability to the GOP, it seemed that Republicans in the General Assembly would not have enough votes to pass the redistricting plan—that was, until you stepped up and started rounding up votes in support of the GOP plan.
It has been widely reported that Republican leaders in the General Assembly turned to you to secure the necessary votes for passage. Some speculate that you agreed to do this in exchange for a favorable re-drawing of your own congressional district. While the Democratic Party as a whole was the big loser in the redistricting process, you were among the biggest winners.

The national blog POLITICO noted that Moore made Brady’s support for the Republican redistricting plan a central theme of his campaign to unseat Brady in the 2012 primary. From POLITICO:
In a letter to Brady posted on Moore’s website, the former judge wrote: “Watching you sell out your party for your own benefit, I felt as I imagine [Philadelphia] Eagles fans would feel if Michael Vick, in his Eagles uniform, was caught in the back of a bar sharing game plans with [New York Giants quarterback] Eli Manning…He’s not just a Democrat. He is the head of the Democratic Party in Philadelphia. When the head of the party teams up with the opposing party, what does that say?” Moore told POLITICO. “I think it’s major.”

Unfortunately, Philadelphia’s political leaders looked the other way. Very few were willing to criticize a powerful and well-funded incumbent congressman.

After Moore dropped out of the race, Brady released a joint statement with Moore in which he pledged “to support Moore in the future,” Despite making this commitment, Brady refused to accept the results of the 2014 ward leader election which Moore narrowly won. In 2015 I interviewed Moore for my book on ward politics, Green Shoots of Democracy in the Philadelphia Democratic Party. According to Moore, immediately after the election Williams conceded, shook his hand and congratulated him in front of the assembled committeepersons. On June 11, 2014, two days after the ward leader election, the Inquirer reported that the only successful challenge against an incumbent ward leader was in North Philadelphia, where retired Municipal Judge Jimmie Moore defeated 32nd Ward leader Gary Williams.

A few days later, Moore received a letter from Party Chair Bob Brady stating that Williams had contested the ward leader election. There was no explanation as to why Williams was challenging the results of an election he had already conceded, arousing suspicion that the impetus for the challenge came from Brady rather than from Williams. Moore responded to the Philadelphia Democratic Party’s decision to declare Gary Williams the winner of the ward leader election by filing suit in United States District Court on June 20, 2014.

Brady certainly derailed Moore’s political hopes to revitalize the 32nd ward, but he did far worse damage to the Democratic Party. As a result of the Republican redistricting plan which Brady supported, we now have a congressional delegation with thirteen Republicans to five Democrats—despite the fact that in the 2010 general election 2,701,820 Pennsylvanians voted for a Democrat for Congress, compared to 2,626,995 who voted for a Republican.

According to 
Azavea, the firm that developed the Redistricting the Nation project, before redistricting Brady’s district was 31.8% White and 48.0% black. His new district will be 46.9% white and 35.5% black. (The Asian and Latino percentages have changed very little).

Brady must have hoped that his role in redistricting would be forgotten and given the response of most Philadelphia elected officials and political reporters, he had every reason to believe that it would. Then Judge Jimmie Moore made Brady’s shameful role in redistricting the center piece of his campaign. No wonder Brady wanted to get him out of the race.

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