Philly supporters to Obama: pay up
Democratic candidate Barack Obama, who has built his candidacy on the promise of a “new kind of politics,” has run up against the old kind of politics in Philadelphia.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Obama’s refusal to pay “street money” to volunteers in Pennsylvania’s largest city may cost him support in the state’s April 22 primary.
Local party leaders in Philadelphia expect candidates to deliver cash to help them get out the vote, the Times says. Teens who hand out leaflets typically get a $10 bill, while more experienced volunteers can get up to $100. The total for America’s sixth-largest city could come to $500,000.
“This is a machine city, and ward leaders have to pay their committee people,” ward leader and Obama supporter Carol Ann Campbell told the Times.
Obama often rails against the influence of money in politics, and his campaign has told Philadelphia officials they should expect no street money.
That could cost him support in an area where he will have to run up large margins to counteract rival Hillary Clinton‘s strength elsewhere in the state, the Times said. Local officials expect the Clinton campaign will have no qualms about handing out street money, which is legal and has been a fixture in previous presidential campaigns.
Obama’s stance could also cause resentment among the city’s poor, black voters, who see the black candidate’s well-funded campaign spending lavishly on TV ads but freezing out field workers for whom a $50 bill would be a big payday.
“They view it that the white people are getting all the money for TV,” said state Rep. Dwight Evans, who is neutral in the race.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Frank Polich (Obama campaigns in Gary, Indiana on April 10)