Whenever the subject of Philadelphia’s 2015 mayoral race comes up, the one person who is always named first or second in the pack of candidates is Councilman-at-Large Bill Green, whose father, Bill Green III, held the seat in the early ’80s. But this week, there’s chatter in political circles that the councilman has set his sights on a new target: Congress.
In the last couple of weeks, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz has made it quite clear that she intends to run for Pennsylvania governor in 2014. If she does, she will likely not seek reelection, leaving the November 2014 Congressional race open for a Green bid.
The Congressional move would not be without its own historical precedent in the Green family. The councilman’s father served six terms in Congress prior to becoming mayor. And Green’s grandfather was also a member of Congress. He held a seat for 19 years until his death in 1964. Councilman Green doesn’t actually live in Schwartz’s district, the 13th Congressional District, but he doesn’t have to, according to the U.S. Constitution.
So what of Green’s mayoral aspirations? Well, the 2015 mayor’s race is no sure bet. If Councilman David Oh can succeed in getting Philadelphia’s longstanding resign-to-run law struck down, thereby allowing sitting elected officials to run for office without giving up their current jobs, the 2015 field could be a crowded one. District Attorney Seth Williams, Councilman Jim Kenney, State Senator Anthony Williams and City Controller Alan Butkovitz are among the potential Democratic contenders.
Green’s denial of the rumor falls somewhere between Hillary Clinton’s “I’m forbidden from even hearing these questions” and Chris Christie’s “”I will be more ready [for 2016] than I was in 2012.” When I asked him if he’s going to run for Schwartz’s seat, his office sent me the following statement: “I would love to serve in Congress. Because my grandfather and father so distinguished themselves in that job people have always suspected that might be a goal of mine, but that’s not where I am headed now.”
Still, one observer of Green’s mayoral chances notes, “He probably realizes that it doesn’t look as rosy as he thought it did. And that he doesn’t have the support that he thought he had.” Another insider was surprised to hear of Green’s supposed interest in the Schwartz seat. “He’s been so completely focused on the mayor’s office and on local issues,” he says. “I’d be surprised if he had a lust for Congress. What he has demonstrated is a lust for is the second floor of City Hall.”