Ryan Briggs Ryan Briggs is a staff writer and connoisseur of City Hall intrigue, business dealings, neighborhood gossip and local lore. Ryan has studied, worked and resided in Philadelphia since 2004, covering politics and development issues for Hidden City, Next City and Metropolis, amongst other fine publications.
If we voted by putting slips of paper in boxes, this election would look like the opposite of this
Even though today's snoozer of an election might end with the retention of one judge ruled that the rape of a prostitute was merely "theft of services" and another that was caught moonlighting as an illegal landlord, political insiders are still predicting a historic low for voter turnout.
Representatives for the City Commissioners, the good-government group the Committee of Seventy, and several candidates all reported low turnout, which had been predicted by most political observers.
South Philly Republican Ward Leader Jim Dintino told the City Paper he thought Philadelphia "would break a record" for the lowest voter turnout in city history. By the afternoon today, several polling places had reported seeing fewer than a dozen voters. Election Day observers reported that party boosters hadn't even bothered posting campaign advertisments near several divisions in North Philadelphia.
Republicans, who have fielded candidates for Controller and District Attorney, are painting the low turnout as advantageous for their party, which is outnumbered in Philadelphia nearly six to one. They have painted their Controller and District Attorney candidates as reformers that will oppose Philadelphia's Democratic political machine.
"If we turn out 50 percent of our members, and Democrats only turn out 5 percent … we might actually be able squeak one out," said Adam Lang, a Republican Ward Leader from North Philadelphia, who has campaigned for Controller candidate Terry Tracy. Lang added that the end to infighting, which had crippled the party in years past, and a boost from Democratic reform voters, could help as well.
Democrats were unmoved by such predictions. Curtis Blessing, campaign manager for incumbent Controller Alan Butkovitz, said he was "very confident" that his candidate would easily pick up a third term.
The 2009 general election, which featured a similar slate of lower-profile municipal positions and judges, attracted a disappointing 10.8 percent of registered voters, and this year's primary attracted the smallest number of voters in decades.
Analysts have suggested that persuading high-profile politicians to smoke just a little bit of crack cocaine might be a good way to drum up more enthusiasm for local politics.
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