By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Looking at Tuesday’s election results, Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers continued with a high batting average, by pouring money and manpower into selected political races.
Local 98 leader John Dougherty, known as Johnny Doc, could not overcome the huge lead that Tom Wolf had on three other Democratic candidates for governor, including union-backed Congresswoman Allison Schwartz.
“She has a 95-percent voting record for the AFL-CIO, and a 98-percent voting record for the building trades, over 20-something years of service.”
The Electricians Union donated to several candidates throughout the campaign and fielded hundreds of workers election day to support successful candidates like Brendan Boyle for Congress, Mike Driscoll for the State House and Ed Neilson for City Council.
“And across the board, I don’t think there is anybody that is more advanced in election technology than local 98.”
Its members voluntarily donate a percentage of their hourly wages – reportedly a nickle an hour from wages – into Local 98’s political fund.
“We have as much money as anybody in the game,” Dougherty said. “If you look at the operation, old school mentality with new school toys.”
Zack Stalberg of the watchdog group, the Committee of 70 calls Local 98 “the most powerful institution in Philadelphia, and possibly the state.”
“Doc gets a great deal of influence and a seat at any table he wants to be at.”
Stalberg says while Dougherty “may have been characterized in the distant past as a labor thug, if that were ever true, it’s not true today.” In Stalberg’s words, “he’s much more sophisticated, polished, smart and focused.”