There are no national contests. The mayor's race is a foregone conclusion. It's Election Day - but you may not know it.
With only state and municipal contests in play and Democratic nominee Michael Nutter an astronomically heavy favorite to win the city's top post, the efforts of Penn's student political groups - much more low-scale than in presidential or congressional election years - reflect a general sentiment: For students, Election Day 2007 just isn't that big of a deal.
That hasn't stopped groups from mounting some semblance of voter outreach, however.
Penn Democrats spokesman and College sophomore Mukul Sharma said his organization will be going door-to-door in University City today from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. campaigning for their party.
Penn Dems' members will also be working at various polling locations, and while the organization is not planning any large-scale get-out-the-vote effort, Sharma said they hope to increase
turnout through e-mail, using the group's 2,100-member listserv.
The non-partisan student group Penn Leads the Vote, meanwhile, is using today to help out at the polls and practice for next year's presidential election, said members and College juniors A.J. Schiera and Dorna Mohaghegh.
On the Republican side, College sophomore and College Republicans President Zac Byer said that because Nutter is so heavily favored over G.O.P. candidate Al Taubenberger, the group sees the election more as an opportunity to monitor the polling practices of the city.
"The big issue for Republicans is what goes on at the polls," he said, referring to numerous allegations of voter-regulation issues at polling places across the city.
The College Republicans have also focused on Pennsylvania's court elections, in which two state Supreme Court spots and three Superior Court positions are vacant.
The elections for the seven-member Supreme Court have the chance to be among today's most influential races and could leave Philadelphia with only one representative on the court.
While Philadelphia holds a sizeable Democratic advantage, many of the state races could be close, and turnout in the city will be essential for Democrats who hope to override the sizeable Republican advantage in the rest of Pennsylvania.
The lowest turnout for any mayoral election in the last 50 years came in 1995, when Ed Rendell was re-elected to a second term with only 38.6 percent of registered voters coming to the polls. Christopher Sheridan of the Committee of Seventy, a local non-partisan watchdog group, said turnout will likely once again be a problem this year, estimating that only 20 to 25 percent of Philadelphians will vote.
All City Council positions are up for re-election, though the councilwoman that represents Penn's district, Jannie Blackwell, is expected to win easily.
Contested city council races include the re-election of Republican Councilman Brian O'Neill, who represents the 10th district and is being challenged by Democrat Shawn Macalier.
O'Neill's "party is problematic for him," said Zach Stalberg, president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, citing the fact that the district has a Democratic majority.
Election 2007: A look at the races City Council At-Large:
- Blondell Reynolds Brown (D) Incumbent - W. Wilson Goode, Jr. (D) Incumbent - Bill Green (D) Incumbent - Bill Greenlee (D) Incumbent - James F. Kenney (D) Incumbent - Jack Kelly (R) Incumbent - Frank Rizzo (R) Incumbent - Phil Kerwick (R) - Patricia A. Mattern (R) - David Oh (R) - Jacinth Brown Roberts (Green) - Osborne Hart (Soc. Worker)
Note: Due to City Charter, two of the seven seats are reserved for the minority party (the Republican party in this case) City Council 3rd District
- Jannie Blackwell (D) Incumbent - Keith Hairston (R)
Pa. Superior Court
- Christine Donohue (D) - Ron Folino (D) - John Younge (D) - Cheryl Lynn Allen (R) - Bruce Bratton (R)
Pa. Supreme Court
- Debra Todd (D) - Seamus McCaffery (D) - Maureen Lally-Green (R) - Mike Krancer (R)
- Michael Nutter (D) - Al Taubenberger (R) - John Staggs (Socialist Worker)
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