Capitolwire: Rendell’s Williams boost “all about Arlen”

Capitolwire’s Pete DeCoursey has followed up on yesterday’s unexpected Rendell/Williams lovefest, and concludes “it’s all about Arlen.”

To recap, Rendell bent over backwards to praise Williams, calling him “visionary” and saying he “has earned the support of people in Philadelphia and throughout the entire southeast – and for that matter, throughout the entire state.” This seemed like unusually high praise from a neutral governor who most political observers say is not so subtly pulling for Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato.

DeCoursey argues Rendell’s Williams support has more to do with driving up African-American voter turnout in the Philadelphia area — a bloc Specter admits is crucial for his reelection chances.

He writes, if Specter is going to win, he needs higher turnout from black voters than the 15 to 17 percent that is projected by many insiders and polls.

So Rendell, Philadelphia City Democratic Committee Chairman Bob Brady and the rest of the state’s Democratic establishment are doing what they can to boost the candidacy of Williams. Because that is the best way, they believe, to hike Philadelphia black turnout well over 20 percent.

Rendell, Brady and the rest of the state’s Democratic establishment believe every black voter who goes to the polls for Williams, will also vote for Specter.

“We are doing everything we can,” said one participant in that effort, who has discussed it with the governor and Brady. “It’s all-out for Arlen. If it helped Arlen, Rendell would say anything, and give up anything but Ginger,” his dog.

Williams spokeswoman Nia Ngina Meeks refutes the argument. “The governor spoke to the quality and qualifications of Senator Williams,” she said. “He did not qualify that. He spoke sincerely about the campaign, and we’re taking the governor’s words at face value.”

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

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