Some Democrats in far northeast Philadelphia were alarmed on Tuesday to see bright red signs around polling places promoting Republican State Rep. Martina White.
Not because of the signs themselves — which simply promote White as “the Republican voice of the PA” as she ran unopposed for re-election in Pa. House’s 170th District — but because of who paid them.
The fine print required by law on campaign literature indicates that the posters were funded by the House Democratic Campaign Committee, a political arm that promotes campaigns for Democrats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Was it a case of fraudulent campaign literature? A printing error? Or had the Democratic group actually paid for advertisements promoting a Republican candidate?
Adam Bonin, a Democratic election lawyer for the HDCC, confirmed that the group did indeed pay for the deceptively simple ads. Bonin explained that the ads were a tactic to remind Democratic voters that White is, in fact, a member of the Republican Party. White’s campaign has attempted to outstrip a potential Democratic challenger with its own written campaign.
One story: Democrats failed to get a single candidate on the ballot in time for the primary election, meaning White, a rising GOP star who now chairs the city’s party, would be all but assured to obtain another mandate in the far north-eastern district.
Running out of options, Democrats mounted a write-in campaign to push Democrat Michelle Griffin Franks as the write-in candidate, hoping to secure the minimum 300 votes needed to be on the November ballot.
But White launched his own written campaign as a counterattack, urging registered Democrats and other non-GOP voters to vote on his behalf, hoping to beat Griffin as the Democratic nominee. White’s PAC campaign has coached Democrats in the district with detailed instructions on how to vote for her, according to letters sent to registered Democrats that were shared with the Inquirer.
His campaign also tweeted the instructions:
While that backstory isn’t clear on Democratic-sponsored posters, which simply promote White as the “Republican voice of the PA,” Bonin said the message emphasizes “Republican.”
“It’s to remind people that she’s a Republican and Democrats shouldn’t put her on their ballots,” Bonin said.
White did not immediately respond to a request for comment.