By John Kopp, Delaware County Daily Times
NETHER PROVIDENCE — State Rep. Margo Davidson won the endorsement of the Delaware County Democratic Committee members in 164th Legislative District.
The committee members selected Davidson, of Upper Darby, Thursday at the Delaware County Democratic Committee’s nominating convention. Davidson earned 32 votes, beating challengers Billy Smith (18 votes), of Lansdowne, and Dafan Zhang (one vote), of East Lansdowne.
However, the party nearly voted to withhold an endorsement in the district, which includes Lansdowne and Yeadon for the first time. A motion to do so failed by a vote of 29-24.
Party members also voted to endorse Leanne Krueger-Braneky in the 161st Legislative District, Vince Rongione in the 163rd District, and Jeremy Fearn in the 165th District. Incumbent state Reps. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-159, of Chester, Greg Vitali, D-166, of Haverford, Maria Donatucci, D-185, of Philadelphia, and Ronald Waters, D-191, of Philadelphia, also received endorsements. The party did not endorse any candidates running in the 160th, 162nd or 168th districts.
John Kane, business manager of Plumbers Union Local 609, was endorsed to run against Republican Tom McGarrigle, the chairman of Delaware County Council, in the 26th Senatorial District. Incumbent state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, of Philadelphia, was endorsed in the 8th Senatorial District.
Yet, the most anticipated endorsement was the 164th Legislative District, where Davidson is seeking a third term in Harrisburg.
“I’m just very happy and I really appreciate all of my supporters,” Davidson said. “I love them from the bottom of my heart.”
Davidson has drawn criticism from some Democrats for supporting vouchers and voting in favor of bills requiring abortion clinics to meet the same safety standards as freestanding, ambulatory surgical facilities and preventing health insurance exchanges offered through the Affordable health Care Act from covering most abortions.
Davidson said she seeks to spur job creation, restore public education funding and improve the quality of schools. She said she is most proud of money she helped bring back to the Upper Darby and William Penn school districts.
“Those are the things I care about in my district,” Davidson said. “They are the things I’ve been fighting hard for. That’s what this campaign is really about.”
Smith, a former Lansdowne councilman, said he is looking forward to a spirited campaign that focuses on the issues at hand.
“You have to respect the process,” Smith said. “This is not the actual election. … They don’t speak for their entire communities.”
Zhang, an Ivy League graduate who was once homeless, said he was impressed that there was a sizeable portion of committee members in favor of an open primary.
“I’m surprised that so many supported an open primary,” Zhang said. “It’s nice to see that there’s a lot of people who care about issues instead of just politics.”
David Landau, chairman of the Delaware County Democratic Party, said the challengers are part of the election process.
“We’re a Democratic Party,” Landau said. “We’re not like the Republican Party. I don’t dictate who is going to be a candidate.
“We’re open and people wanted to step up and challenge Margo Davidson. They’re going to in the primary, regardless of the endorsement. We will have a process. She’s the incumbent. She was endorsed pretty comfortably — no surprise.”
Rongione, of Upper Darby, likely will face Republican Jamie Santora, of Upper Darby, to determine the new state representative in the 163rd District. Longtime Republican state Rep. Nicholas Micozzie is retiring at the end of his term.
“I’m thrilled to have the unanimous support of the committees,” Rongione said. “The campaign is building a lot of momentum. The unanimous endorsement shows the community thinks I’m the best person to attract independents, Republicans and Democrats.”
Kane, of Ridley Township, is running for the open state Senate seat held by retiring state Sen. Edwin “Ted” Erickson. Landau said the seat is the Democrats’ to lose.
“We’re going to work hard for this seat,” Kane announced to the committee members. “I’m going to win this seat and I’m going to make you all proud.”
The Democrats did not vote to endorse any of the candidates for governor or lieutenant governor.