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John Kerry’s stated purpose for being in Philadelphia Thursday was to speak to delegates at the NAACP’s annual convention. But the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also managed to leave town with more than $500,000 in his pocket, largely courtesy of the city’s trial lawyers, large firm lawyers and their clients. One of the event’s chief organizers was Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen chairman Mark Alderman, who, along with Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox partner Joe Manko, has served as Kerry’s primary Pennsylvania fund-raiser for over a year. The other chief sponsors were Anapol, Schwartz, Weiss, Cohan, Feldman & Smalley partner Larry Cohan; Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Schleifer, Weinstein & Winkler partner Ken Rothweiler, Raynes McCarty partner Gerald McHugh and Washington, D.C.-based William Titelman. Though event organizers played down the role of trial lawyers, they did say that more than half of the funds raised for the event — an hour-long meet-and-greet session for contributors held at Philadelphia International Airport Thursday afternoon — came from trial lawyers. Pennsylvania is considered by political pundits to be a battleground state. President Bush lost the state to Al Gore four years ago but has made more than 30 trips there since his election. A Quinnipiac University survey published this week showed a spike for Kerry after he added Sen. John Edwards as his running mate. Kerry garnered 46 percent of potential voters in his camp, compared to Bush with 41 percent and independent candidate Ralph Nader with 5 percent. Three months ago, Bush led 44 percent to 40 percent in the same poll. With Edwards now entrenched on team Kerry, so is his trial lawyer fund-raising apparatus. Alderman said adding the senator from North Carolina to the ticket has made his job a little easier. “I can’t imagine any of the other choices generating as much immediate fund-raising excitement,” Alderman said. “But I don’t think it’s just because he’s a trial lawyer. Edwards has a tremendous populist appeal that really strikes a chord with people, including trial lawyers.” Cohan is one of the few Philadelphia trial lawyers who supported Kerry rather than Edwards during the primary season. He said of the roughly 50 contributors attending the intimate airport gathering, half were trial lawyers, but the rest included a diverse group of corporate lawyers, business leaders and doctors. That’s right, doctors and trial lawyers in the same room. “I think that’s a testament to Sen. Kerry’s broad-based support,” Cohan said. “Mark, Jerry, Ken and I spent a substantial amount of our time over the past two weeks working the phones. And a large portion of that time was working outside the trial lawyer community.” Rothweiler was leading the fund-raising charge for Edwards during primary season and is now in the Kerry camp. He said he believes enthusiasm amongst his trial lawyer brethren has spiked with Edwards’ inclusion on the ticket. “I met with [Kerry campaign manager] Mary Beth Cahill [before Edwards was selected] and I told her that while I thought trial lawyers would remain loyal to the Democratic Party, there would be more excitement with Edwards as part of the team,” Rothweiler said. “And I do believe that’s what has happened. People who have not normally been engaged are now engaged.” Democratic fund-raising veteran Alan Kessler, also a partner at Wolf Block, was co-chairman of the Pennsylvania fund-raising efforts for the Gore-Lieberman campaign four years ago and also played a similar role in 1992 and 1996 for Clinton-Gore. He said the trial lawyer fund-raising presence does not appear to be much different that it was during the Clinton and Gore campaigns. “They have always been there; it’s just a matter of degree,” Kessler said. “But this excitement is not limited to trial lawyers. It reminds me of 1992, when Clinton was running third [in polls behind President George H.W. Bush and Texas billionaire Ross Perot] and then he chose Gore as his running mate, and it really energized the ticket.” Kessler, who joined the Kerry camp officially after Gov. Edward G. Rendell offered his endorsement of the Massachusetts senator, said local lawyers have been busy with fund-raising efforts. In April, Rendell’s endorsement was used to organize a fund-raising tour across the state that Kessler said netted about $1.7 million for Kerry. Another $500,000 was subsequently raised for the Democratic National Committee. Republican lawyers are supporting their team of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney with equal fervor. As he did in 2000, Blank Rome chairman David Girard-diCarlo serves as the Bush-Cheney Pennsylvania fund-raising chairman. Girard-diCarlo said Bush attended a June 23 event at a private home in Villanova, Pa., where roughly $1.3 million was raised. Several local lawyers, including Blank Rome partner Carl Buchholz, Wolf Block special counsel Charlie Kopp, Dilworth Paxson’s Steve Friedman and state Republican Party chairman Alan Paul Novak, served on the fund-raising committee for the event. Additionally, earlier this month, Cheney attended a Pittsburgh event at which $250,000 was raised. Cohen & Grigsby partner Evans Rose was the chief organizer of that event, Girard-diCarlo said. “I’ve spent a lot of time [fund-raising in recent months],” Girard-diCarlo said. “And I’ve encountered a lot of enthusiasm for the president. This is a battleground state, and I think the next few months are going to be very exciting.”

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