But among the newcomers, it is the progressive movement, with groups like Reclaim, that has made the most inroads and appears best positioned to become a permanent force.
“Ultimately what is happening is that the groups that work hardest and really speak to the needs of constituents — on the Green New Deal, on health care, on jobs, on criminal justice reform — that’s what’s in the hearts and souls of Philadelphians,” said Amanda McIllmuray, Reclaim’s political director, “so I think we’ll continue to see progressives who work hard win.”
Reclaim has focused more than other progressive groups on infiltrating the ward system, the neighborhood-based Election Day muscle behind the party establishment’s longtime dominance. Nikil Saval, a Reclaim co-founder, in 2018 won the race to be leader of South Philadelphia’s 2nd Ward. Next year, he’s challenging State Sen. Larry Farnese in the Democratic primary.