The Stark Choice Between Kenyatta Johnson and Ori Feibush

MO-metro-ori-kenyatta-illo-940x540

There was more energy in the room at the start of Thursday night’s debate between Second Council District contenders Kenyatta Johnson and Ori Feibush than at any mayoral forum so far this election year. Maybe more people too. I’d guess at least 400 turned out.

The standing-room only crowd was a reflection of the intense interest—and intense emotions—this race is generating in a diverse and rapidly changing district that includes key chunks of Center City and South and Southwest Philadelphia. You know the characters by now: Johnson, a freshman councilman and former State Representative, a young scion of the party who enjoys the full-throated backing of a wide array of elected officials; and Feibush, the even younger rebel developer who’s clashed repeatedly with city agencies and officials, but has also redeveloped large chunks of Point Breeze. It’s a classic contest pitting the establishment against a potent (and largely self-funded) upstart, replete with complicated sub-narratives about race, gentrification and the clash between old and new Philadelphia. Read more »

Lynne Abraham Says “I’m Just Going to Charge and Surge”

Lynne Abraham Running For Mayor of Philadelphia

Thursday was a little weird for Lynne Abraham.

On the one hand, she released an internal poll that claims she has a big lead in the mayoral race: 30 points for Abraham, compared to 14 points each for Jim Kenney and Anthony Williams, with the other candidates all in the single digits. True, the poll sampled just 500 registered voters and had a high margin of error, a fact quickly pointed out by Abraham foes. But the poll did underscore a fact that has been overshadowed by the flurry of endorsements and media coverage Williams and Kenney have received recently: Abraham is far and away the best-known candidate in this race. Read more »

Live Coverage: the Kenyatta Johnson / Ori Feibush Debate

Johnson: PA House of Representatives; Feibush: Jeff Fusco

Johnson: PA House of Representatives; Feibush: Jeff Fusco

The 2nd Council District slugfest between incumbent Kenyatta Johnson and insurgent Ori Feibush is perhaps the most captivating election in Philadelphia this year. And tonight, it’s the main event: the candidates meet for a debate, moderated by Citified’s Holly Otterbein.

This is going to be good. Follow below for Live Tweeting of the debate, and check back with Citified tomorrow morning for our breakdown of the event. Read more »

The Mayoral Race’s True Frontrunner: Lynne Abraham. Still.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

[Updated: at 10:05 a.m. with new detail on racial breakdown of respondents.]

Tony Williams has got legions of politicos behind him, much of the party apparatus and absurdly deep-pocketed allies in the ‘burbs poised to invest millions to get him elected. Jim Kenney has momentum, the backing of politically potent unions, and the help of some well-funded Super PACs.

And Lynne Abraham? Well, all Abraham has is a big lead on them both. Read more »

Pew Poll: Philadelphians Have a Huge Crush on Philly

Gorgeous. | Shutterstock.com

Gorgeous. | Shutterstock.com

Philadelphians seem to be falling back in love with Philadelphia.

A new poll from The Pew Charitable Trusts finds that 48 percent of Philadelphians think the city is moving in the right direction, the highest percentage since Pew began asking the question in 2009. Only a third of respondents said the city was on the wrong track. Read more »

The Hole in Philadelphia’s Philanthropic Donut

There’s a gaping hole in the middle of Philadelphia’s philanthropic donut. That’s the thrust of a nuanced Jeremy Nowak critique of the Philadelphia Foundation, which is the city’s community foundation. What are community foundations? They’re grant-giving charities that pool resources from a wide array of donors (in contrast to the Pew Charitable Trust or William Penn Foundations, which endowed by single families). They’re also, critically, intently focused on local grant-giving. This second component is particularly important for a city like Philadelphia whose biggest foundation, Pew, is increasingly national in focus. Read more »

The Candidate Conversations Series: Meet Jim Kenney, the Mayoral Campaign’s Most Complex (and Compelling?) Figure

Jim Kenney

Jim Kenney

Former City Councilman Jim Kenney is a complicated, fascinating figure who’s carved out an unlikely political sweet spot for himself in the nook between two very different bases: 1) progressive Philadelphians, many of them new to the city, and 2) old school rowhome voters and union members. It takes an unusual and appealing candidate to pull that trick off. Kenney checks both boxes, and that’s part of the reason he’s one of the candidates who has a very real chance of becoming the city’s next mayor.

Come meet Kenney and see what the buzz is about next Thursday, April 2, 6 p.m. — 7:30 p.m., at Pipeline Philly’s new co-working spaceREGISTER HERE NOW. Read more »

The Brief: Philly’s GOP Representation in Harrisburg Doubled Overnight, as Martina White Wins Special Election

A lifeboat for the Philly elephant? | Shutterstock.com

A lifeboat for the Philly elephant? | Shutterstock.com

Republican elected officials are all but extinct in Philadelphia. True, you have State Rep. John Taylor and 10th District Councilman Brian O’Neill, but, until yesterday, they were the lone, natural-born Republicans in the inhospitable Philadelphia ecosystem. The rest? Well, they owe their office to minority party protections enshrined in the City Charter, not to voter will. Put another way, there would be no GOP at-large council members, no Al Schmidt as City Commissioner, if there weren’t set-asides for the non-majority party written into the city’s charter. That’s how marginalized the city’s Republican party has been. Read more »

Council Candidates Line Up for a Share of Philadelphia 3.0 Dark Money

A screenshot from the newly-launched Philadelphia 3.0 website.

A screenshot from the newly-launched Philadelphia 3.0 website.

Here’s the thing about dark money in politics: a lot of candidates will tell you it’s a malevolent, undemocratic force—but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the money spent on them.

Case in point: 27 City Council candidates sought the endorsement of Philadelphia 3.0, the newly created dark money non-profit that seeks to “bring new voices into the city’s political conversation,” starting with City Council. There’s no word yet on which candidates Philadelphia 3.0 will select, or how much money they’ll spend on behalf of their chosen contenders. Read more »

B-Roll of Rally? Check. Cheesesteak? Check. Hardscrabble Street Shot? Check. The Political Ad Season Has Arrived

Political ad = cheesesteak consumption. | Screen grab of Tony Williams new campaign ad.

Political ad = cheesesteak consumption. | Screen grab of Tony Williams new campaign ad.

State Senator and mayoral candidate Tony Williams is the first contender to take to the air with a campaign-funded TV ad. There’s a pro Jim-Kenney spot airing for a few weeks now, but that one was purchased by an independent expenditure committee, not Kenney’s campaign.

The Williams ad is a classic candidate-introduction spot. It pictures Williams meeting with voters, walking down a hard-scrabble street, even eating a cheesesteak. The ad touches on Williams’ role in bringing state funding to city schools and his support of a gun violence task force, but this spot isn’t meant to be an issue ad so much as it’s designed to create a positive first impression of Williams. Read more »

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