Obama Clashes With Philly Pols Over Payouts

Candidate won't pay 'street money,' riling local Democrats
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2008 2:44 PM CDT
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., speaks at a volunteer training event in Philadelphia, Wednesday, April 2, 2008.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama has been expected to do well in Philadelphia in this month's Pennsylvania primary, but a test of wills between his campaign and local party bosses might jeopardize his chances. The Philadelphia political scene has a long tradition of "street money"—payment to Democratic operatives who dispense $10, $20, and $50 bills to those who help get out the vote. But Obama's people won't pay up, writes the Los Angeles Times.

It's legal, and one ward leader estimates that it would take $400,000 to $500,000 to get the job done. The city's field workers, many of whom are black, have expressed anger that Obama is putting his campaign's money into television ads rather than grass-roots operations. "You don't come to someone's house and change the rules of someone's house," said one. "That's just respect." Neither campaign has said officially whether it would pay street money.