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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thanks for the memos

Posted By on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Got a feeling that Infinonymous has got a copy of this as well, and it's been leaked (and reported) elsewhere, but I'll post it now, while I'm waiting for today's Tea Party action to begin: an internal memo from the Dan Onorato campaign laying out their strategy for deciding whether to knock Hoeffel off the ballot. 

You may recall that Onorato's gubernatorial team briefly challenged the election petitions of another Democratic rival, Joe Hoeffel, but quickly dropped the matter. Maybe you thought that Hoeffel's protests changed Onorato's mind or something. But not so.

As the memo shows, the Onorato team felt that a challenge of Hoeffel's signatures had a 40 percent chance of removing Hoeffel from the ballot ... and a 95 percent chance of ousting Anthony Hardy Williams, an upstart candidate who holds a state Senate post out in Philly. (More about Williams tomorrow.) But the team decided to make its challenge contingent on whether Hoeffel and Williams filed challenges of their own.

Both Hoeffel and Williams are from the southeast portion of the state (Hoeffel is a county commissioner in Montgomery County, next door to Philly). The idea, presumably, was that Onorato could ensure that there were going to be either two candidates in the southeast, or none. That way, voters in the Philly area would either split their votes between two choices, or have no local choice at all. 

Originally, the memo suggests, the plan was to stake out the Williams and Hoeffel campaigns, watching to see if they filed challenges, and swinging into action if they did. But the memo proposed a different strategy: File the challenge against Hoeffel without waiting to see what anyone else did. If Hoeffel didn't make a challenge of his own, Onorato's team could just drop its own court action. 

That is essentially how the strategy played out, as explained last month by the Post-Gazette's Jim O'Toole. (And the memo's existence has been leaked to others as well, witness this story in the Philadelphia Daily News.)

So if you were wondering what was up with Onorato's abortive challenge, now you know. It's also worth noting some of the high-octane names in the memo's cc list -- just in case you weren't aware of how closely allied Onorato is to governor Ed Rendell. There's local attorney and Democratic power broker Cliff Levine, of course, and also Pennsylvania "wheeler-dealer" (and Rendell campaign veteran) Dan Fee. But there's also Thorp Reed's David J. Montgomery and former Rendell pollster David Petts, as well as Neil Oxman of the Campaign Group, whose previous clients included Rendell, Supreme Court Justice Max Baer, and Al Gore.

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