I met Allentown Mayoral candidate Tony Phillips last night at Yocco's Hot Dog Shop on Airport Road, thinking I could treat him to a "long n hard" hot dog, a Delores special. Unfortunately, he stopped eating beef and pork years ago to keep his weight under control, so I gobbled down the dogs I had ordered for him.
"Can I offer you a tossed salad?" I suggested. After spending a day answering calls and emails concerning a private online chat, he was still able to laugh. What's more, he's still in the race and tells me he intends to win his bid against well-funded incumbent Edwin Pawlowski.
It's been a tough few days. His $700 per week (yes, that's $700) campaign manager suddenly quit. And on Monday night, he had to reassure nervous Allentown Republicans who wondered whether they should withdraw their support. Yesterday, he endured all sorts of public criticism for a conversation he had every right to assume was private.
Tony provided me with a few additional details about "Delores." There were actually two online chats. They occurred on August 28th and 29th. Before he actually chatted with her, she had sent him several suggestive messages.
It's now pretty clear that, all along, Delores' goal has been to undermine Phillips. She admits as much at Craigslist, with a "goal completed" taunt. There is no evidence that anyone from the Pawlowski camp has anything to do with "Delores," and Tony himself acknowledges that.
Will the publication of this private conversation hurt Tony's campaign? It has turned off some, but galvanized others, and may have created some sympathy for him. It might have the added benefit of creating some interest in the real issues facing distressed Allentown. It's broke yet desperately needs more police officers. Businesses are leaving. There is no transparency.