Some Questions for Chuck Pennacchio and His SupportersAfter not seeing him speak in person (although asking him questions on a blogger conference call), I have now seen Chuck Pennacchio twice in the past week; at the Philly For Change Meetup, and at the Neighborhood Networks organizing conference.
And, of course, I have followed all of the headway that Tim Tagaris has made for the campaign, and for Democrats, with his online outreach (ie, the Social Security Video, amongst other things. And, I respect that Dr. Pennacchio is running, and have joined so many in PA who have called for an open primary.But, when Dr. Pennacchio came to the Meetup, there were some questions that I wanted to ask him that have been nagging at me for quite a while. I didn't ask them at the Meetup, frankly, because I didn't want to seem rude to a guy who deserves to have his message heard by a group of activists. But, anyway, here are my questions, which I hope Tim, Dr. Pennacchio himself, or any of the people he was gained the support of, can answer:
Bluntly, where have you been for the past 15 years? How come I have not heard of you? More importantly, how come my parents have not heard of you? How come no one who I consider a progressive Philly activist has heard of you?
Some background: I consider myself pretty well versed in the world of Philly activism. I grew up in a liberal go-gooder home in Germantown, within this community of activists that have deep roots all around the City. While I suppose I may be out of touch, I know plenty of people who certainly are not. These people have been fighting the good fight in SE PA for years and years, and up until now, they had never heard the name Chuck Pennacchio. Why not?
You said you lived in Germantown in the 80's. Surely, if you had been active then, people in my community would have heard from you, right?
Frankly, I don't get it. And, while I respect the work you have done with Senate campaigns in the 1980's, that was not only out-of-state, but was more than 15 years ago. Where have you been? There have, and continue to be, plenty of fights in Philly that we constantly have needed more voices on. You are a professor in the City. How come we never heard of you?
Chuck seems like a good guy. A very good guy. Someone who has the right ideals and values. And, he hired Tim Tagaris, which was a good move. But, as someone who admired what Paul Wellstone did, and spent four years in Minnesota, I can tell you this: When Wellstone launched his Senate campaign, he immediately had a huge number of DFL activists supporting him, based on all of the years of work he spent organizing, fighting for economic justice, for workers in the iron range, for farmers. It was not just his ideals that made people vote for him; it was his demonstrated actions. That is something which I don't think enough people are willing to acknowledge; ideals alone, are not generally enough to get you support. If Paul Wellstone had simply been a "good guy," with good intentions, he would have had no shot.
I think Chuck Pennacchio's heart is in the right place. I am just not sure that his demonstrated actions within Philly are enough to garner him the support of the Philadelphia activist community as a whole; something that is crucial to anyone trying to make a left-flank insurgent run at Senate.
Can someone convince me otherwise?