Multiple sources have told City&State PA that the politically powerful electricians union Local 98 is considering backing Jack O’Neill, the youthful-looking latecomer to the race, for Philadelphia district attorney.
O’Neill spokesperson Maurice Floyd said he hadn’t heard the rumors, but added the campaign would welcome the union’s backing.
“We’re looking for support. We’re talking to everybody,” he said. “We’re talking to (City Council President) Darrell Clarke. We’re talking to all the wards. We’re making a real concentrated effort to win support.”
Floyd did affirm that O’Neill had visited Local 98 chief John Dougherty at a local hospital, where the union boss has been occupied with a family medical issue.
“He was just paying his respects,” Floyd said. “We got in late, so we’ve had to run around a lot, which we’re doing right now as we speak.”
Officially, Local 98 said its endorsement was still up in the air.
“Local 98 has not endorsed or decided upon a candidate in the DA's race at this point in time,” said spokesperson Frank Keel.
But sources, including individuals close to Local 98 and the O’Neill campaign, gave credence to the rumors of a possible alliance between the unions and the upstart candidate.
“It’s an Irish thing,” said a source close to the Democratic City Committee.
The union controls a vast political war chest, although some privately questioned how much Dougherty’s associates would actually commit to a race that has little impact on the operations of the city’s building trades. Some speculated that the union’s true interest was in building name recognition for O’Neill to facilitate a future run for city council.
In other campaign news, fellow candidate Rich Negrín missed a progressive criminal justice forum last night due to a bout with pneumonia. His absence comes at a crucial juncture in the campaign: The Northwest Coalition, an influential, informal collection of African American political leaders, will make its endorsement in the race on Friday. Negrín campaign spokesperson Mark Nevins stated in an email that the candidate would be back on the hustings by Friday.
Floyd also echoed increasing speculation about the potential impact of an independent expenditure committee tied to billionaire George Soros that has long been rumored to have its sights set on supporting Larry Krasner’s campaign.
“I would think with the money (Soros) has, he would try to start floating Krasner’s name out there,” Floyd said. “It’s getting late in the race.”