Joyce, and particularly her husband, Ivan Itkin, were very active party and club members (see a photo of Joyce chairing a club fundraiser around 1984). Joyce ran for city council in 1991, prior to the clerk of courts contest. Ivan was the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania governor in 1998 and served in the state house from 1973 to 1998. (See his Wikipedia page.)
|Not even a nuclear scientist could beat the party machine. [click on image for larger version]|
Fast forward to 1995. The Associated Press provided some context for the club's disputed clerk of courts endorsement, reporting that 14th Ward chair and club board member Eric Marchbein accused Dennis Coyne, a truck driver with no political experience, of being a "spoiler" in the race--placed on the ballot to create name confusion with the incumbent Coyne.
"Marchbein said he was reconsidering his support for Joyce Lee Itkin, a clerk of courts candidate, because he suspects an Itkin supporter was behind Dennis Coyne's recruitment," according to the AP.
(For further context, William J. "Bill" Coyne was the congressman at the time for the state's 14th Congressional District, which included the 14th Ward. No relation to Carol or Dennis, I'm told.)
|An Allegheny County political power couple.|
Two of Itkin's supporters who were denied the vote subsequently produced canceled checks proving that they had paid their dues within two years. Another Itkin supporter submitted a signed and notarized affidavit saying that she had paid her dues in cash within the two-year period but had not received a receipt.
The club archives contain numerous letters from Itkin supporters, including one from three past club presidents resigning their club memberships, as well as a statement from then-club president John Burke and lengthy post-endorsement board meeting minutes that included plans for revising the by-laws.
Despite protestations from Itkin supporters that the vote was actually tied and that the outcome should be nullified, Burke sent a letter to members affirming that two Itkin supporters were improperly prevented from voting and were permitted to vote, but that their votes did not alter the outcome. While the club's slate card was printed and distributed with Coyne listed as the endorsed candidate, Itkin, who had the party's backing, went on to win the primary. Four years later she lost a re-election bid to George Matta, with Carol Coyne finishing third.
According to the June 11, 1995 board meeting minutes, Kathie Smith, the club's current president, "said she was concerned about the attempt to undermine the voters guide that was done at the expense of the other Club endorsed candidates. Endorsed candidates count on the integrity of the voters guide and its impact and it is inconsistent with Club policy to try to minimize it."