Philadelphia 3.0 Highlights Successes in 2019 City Council Primary

Philadelphia 3.0 is thrilled with the success of five out of six endorsed City Council candidates in Philadelphia’s 2019 primaries last Tuesday, including a major upset win by Jamie Gauthier in the 3rd City Council District, where 3.0 focused the vast majority of its resources.

Gauthier, a first-time candidate and the former Executive Director of Fairmount Park Conservancy, bested the 27-year incumbent Council member, Jannie Blackwell, by 12 points, winning six of the district’s eight whole wards in becoming the first challenger to defeat a full-term district incumbent since 1995. Elsewhere, District Council candidates Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (District 7) won her third re-election ballot against a party-backed challenger, and first-time candidate Judy Moore (District 10) won her primary unopposed. In the At-Large race, freshmen incumbents Derek Green and Allan Domb held onto their seats.

Philadelphia 3.0 was formed as a long-term civic project to improve the quality of governance on City Council and support smart and qualified candidates, mostly challengers, out of a belief that competitive elections are essential to political accountability and our civic health.

In March, the organization announced its slate of six endorsed candidates: Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (7th District), Judy Moore (10th District). Eryn Santamoor (At Large), Derek Green (At Large), and Allan Domb (At Large). This ideologically and racially diverse slate of candidates share in common is a belief that we need to make systems-level changes to the way our local government works.

Yesterday, five of those candidates won their races—a major victory for independent-minded and independently-supported candidates for City Council. Moving into November, 3.0 will be focused on its support of Judy Moore, who is running against a ten-term incumbent.

3rd Council District

Jamie Gauthier’s historic 12-point win over a 45-year political dynasty in West Philly is a clear sign that voters are ready for a new direction on City Council. An urban planner, and the former Executive Director of both the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Sustainable Business Network, Gauthier is emblematic of the kind of leadership West Philly will need to manage the incredible growth in the eastern part of the 3rd District in a way that makes all district residents better off. Gauthier won 56% percent of the vote out of about 23,000 votes cast in an upset win over the 27-year incumbent.

The 3.0 independent expenditure in the 3rd District involved robust field, mail and digital programs.

Internal March benchmark polling showed Councilmember Blackwell with 89% name ID in the district, with Gauthier trailing with 29% name recognition. Not surprisingly, Blackwell led Gauthier by a 42 point margin in the March 11th head-to-head poll. Over the course of the next ten weeks, Gauthier erased that gap, and was down by only two points in a May 12th tracking poll. In aggregate, the race moved 54 points in 11 weeks.

A political newcomer, Jamie Gauthier ran an extremely impressive campaign, raising and spending $230,000, a significant sum for a challenger, meeting countless voters one-on-one, and earning the Philadelphia Inquirer’s endorsement. Gauthier’s experience, thoughtfulness, and vision for the district made her the perfect challenger in this race.

7th Council District

Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (7th District) won her reelection bid against State Rep. Angel Cruz, beating back her opponent with 6,070 votes out of 11,655 votes cast, with 97% reporting. Quiñones-Sánchez came into office in 2007 and has faced Party-backed opponents in every election. The only incumbent not endorsed by Democratic City Committee, Quiñones-Sánchez out-raised and out-campaigned her opponent, State Rep. Angel Cruz, and was able to overcome his significant institutional advantage in an extremely low-turnout race. This year’s race was even closer than her highly-competitive 2015 primary, where she defeated Manny Morales by fewer than 900 votes out of 12,246 votes cast. 3.0 also endorsed and supported Quiñones-Sánchez in that election.  

10th District

Judy Moore, a Northeast Philadelphia native and the Executive VP and Chief Strategy Officer of Garces Group, won her uncontested Democratic primary in the 10th District with 7,613 votes. She will now face Republican Councilman Brian O’Neill in the General Election. O’Neill won his primary with only 5,426 votes—over 2,187 fewer than Moore. O’Neill first won the 10th District seat in 1979, the same year in which Moore was born, and hasn’t faced a strong Democratic challenger since 2011. The contest between Moore and O’Neill will be the only competitive district Council race in November, and Philadelphia 3.0 expects to engage in a robust effort to make the case for change to voters

Council At-Large

Councilmember Allan Domb won his re-election bid with 65,636 votes, finishing 2nd among the field of Democratic candidates for At Large. Domb’s focus in office and the campaign trail has been fiscal responsibility, particularly in the arena of property tax assessments, and the collection of delinquent taxes from out-of-town landlords. In 2015, Domb finished in 3rd place, and was also endorsed and supported by 3.0 in that election.

Councilmember Derek Green also won his reelection bid for Council At Large, coming in 4th place with 59,821 votes. Green’s first term was focused on political reforms like public financing of elections and campaign finance reform, and economic initiatives like the Philadelphia Business Lending Network to help small businesses with access to financing.

Eryn Santamoor’s 8th place finish is disappointing, but she ran a very impressive campaign and can be proud of having finished so close to the top of a 40-person field.

The 2019 candidate pool featured many talented candidates who would make great Council members, including the two newest At-Large winners, millennials Isaiah Thomas and Katherine Gilmore Richardson. Philadelphia 3.0 endorsed Thomas for Council in 2015, and we’ve also had many occasions to appreciate Gilmore Richardson’s influence on Blondell Reynolds-Brown’s legislative successes. Both are bright young leaders who represented consensus choices with a broad base of support across many different constituencies.

What’s more, all five incoming Democratic At-Large members have served either zero or one term thus far, so while the At-Large Council result is being portrayed by some as a win for the Democratic Party machine, the results represent a complete turnover from the At-Large delegation that was in place prior to the 2015 legislative session. Changing the direction on Council shouldn’t mean tossing everybody out every time. Voters kept the new members who were elected in 2015, and added two well-qualified millennials for the first time.

Overall, we are very pleased with these results, especially in the 3rd District, as they reveal an electorate open to change and new blood on City Council, and but also open to keeping good change-agents on the job. We applaud Isaiah Thomas and Katherine Gilmore Richardson on their successful campaigns, and look forward to seeing how their perspective will help shape city policy over the next four years.

Next week, our attention turns to the 10th District, and the competitive race between our endorsed candidate Judy Moore and ten-term Republican incumbent Brian O’Neill. 

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  • Owen Sindler
    commented 2019-05-31 13:19:32 -0400
    I would have liked to have seen more discussion about the importance of councilmatic perogaitive…. from the candidates.