Into what alien territory has the Democratic Party landed its spaceship this week?

Democrats may think Philadelphia is reliably blue, but as for those South Philly blocks that jut up right up against the Wells Fargo Center?

“It’s all Trump here,” said Donna DiBruno, 48, a teacher and a member of the great extended cheese family. She’s talking with her neighbors in the shared driveway behind their homes in the 3200 blocks of Broad and Juniper. (Don’t call it an alley. They say that makes the neighborhood look bad.)

A block away, the pro-Sanders protesters are still filing by. The entrance to Wells Fargo is just over the fence. But for these neighbors, minds are made up. DiBruno, her neighbor Ron Tini, the guy walking by “who could get you great ravioli,” — all Trump.

Even the Mummers were putting in their two cents in about the protesters on Twitter: “Shame what’s going on in ‘The Lakes’ FDR Park,” tweeted Finnegan NYB with the hashtag “WereNotWithHer.” These are the same Mummers who mocked Caitlin Jenner at the parade this year, bringing down international wrath on the beloved civic event.

What’s happening at the park, these Trump voters say, helps explain their position.

“Take a walk over there and you’ll see why,” DiBruno says.

“We don’t need more politicians,” says Tini, a cabinet maker.

Voter registration records show 171 Republican voters clustered among just a few blocks of Juniper, Broad and nearby Geary, in the city’s 39th Ward, 14th Division. One neighbor said the GOP pocket dates to when Frank Rizzo changed his party registration. Another said the city’s Democratic leadership had left schools and finances a mess, not to mention the fury over controversial pension payments for public servants (the so-called “DROP” windfall).

“The city is run by Democrats,” Tini said. “This city is one of the most corrupt cities in the country. The city is run by Democrats — all the money is gone. They got the DROP program. They quit, then you get $350,000 and go back the next day as a consultant.”

But mostly, they just like Donald J. Trump. He’s their guy.

“He’s powerful, he’s rich, he wants to better our country,” said DiBruno. “He’s doing it for his children, grandchildren.”

Another neighbor walked by with a stroller. “I definitely am Trump,” she called out. “I’ve always been a Republican. I have a job.”

Trump had her at the wall, DiBruno said.

“He said build a wall, that got my attention,” she said. “It’s not literally a wall. It’s his policy of keeping people out of this country you don’t know who the hell they are. I know people who say, ‘your ancestors came,’ but our ancestors came here and made this country what it is today.”


(c)2016 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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