The (New) Jim Kenney for Mayor

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

In many ways, this has been the weirdest of Philadelphia mayoral elections.

We mean that not in the sense of weird things happening — honestly, with the exception of Lynne Abraham doing a face-plant at a televised debate, it seems like not much has happened at all in this campaign — but more in the following sense: This doesn’t feel like the election Philadelphia was supposed to be having right now. Yes, ours is a city with large problems — widespread poverty, a school system that utterly fails families, a tax system that repels business — but it’s also, somehow, a city on the move and on the rise, with a palpable sense of energy about it. Population is growing, construction is booming, and Philadelphians of all ages, races and income levels are feeling more optimistic about the city than they have in ages. Surely, with that as the backdrop, this should have been a mayoral election that produced a candidate — or candidates! — ready to build on the undeniable momentum of the Nutter years and at long last wrestle Philadelphia’s toughest problems to the ground. Read more »

Op-Ed: Leave Behind “Reductive Thinking” on Race and Politics

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

(Editor’s note: This is an op-ed from Alba Martinez, chair of Jim Kenney’s policy committee, in response to recent columns from Citified insider Jay McCalla analyzing the recent endorsements Kenney has received from a number of African American and Latino politicians and ward leaders.)

Philadelphia’s rich history has many chapters that are worthy of preservation, but divisive racial identity politics is not one of them. A number of op-eds in Citified, the Philadelphia Tribune and elsewhere have implied Jim Kenney’s recent endorsements by Latino and African American community leaders could only be the result of political horse trading. We must leave that reductive thinking in the past and teach our children that a candidate of any race, gender, sexual orientation or religion can be an effective political representative of their interests provided they bring the right track record, values, ideas and abilities to the table.
Read more »

The Brief: How Would Philly’s Mayoral Candidates Prevent Riots Here?

From L to R: X | Photos by Jeff Fusco

Photos by Jeff Fusco

1. As Baltimore struggles to move on from this weeks’s riots, the mayor’s race turns to the issue of police and community relations.

The gist: Yesterday, more than one news outlet asked the candidates running for mayor: What do you think of the unrest in Baltimore? And what would you do to stop similar violence from spreading to Philadelphia? Riots and looting broke out in Baltimore Monday in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, who some believe suffered a “rough ride” by police. “Rough rides” have happened here, only they go by a different name: “nickel rides.” To keep Philly from descending into chaos, the mayoral candidates recommended everything from equipping cops with body cameras to firing officers who use hate speech.

Why it matters: The issue of the strained relationship between cops and community members will probably continue to be a major part of the mayor’s race. Expect questions to be raised about mayoral candidate and former District Attorney Lynne Abraham’s record of not always prosecuting bad cops, as well as whether former City Councilman Jim Kenney can push for police reform after being endorsed by the city’s police union. And don’t be surprised if state Sen. Anthony Williams and former city solicitor Nelson Diaz attack Kenney or Abraham on these issues. (In fact, Diaz’ spokesman is already highlighting Kenney’s relationship with the Fraternal Order of Police on Twitter, saying, “Anyone who thinks the FOP is going to be a willing participant in reform here is kidding themselves. And who do they back again?”) Read more »

The Brief: Jim Kenney is the Mayoral Race’s New Frontrunner

Jim Kenney

Jim Kenney

1. Jim Kenney Takes the Lead in the Mayor’s Race, Two Polls Show

The Gist: For the first time this year, former City Councilman Jim Kenney has a statistically significant lead over state Sen. Anthony Williams, according to two polls done on behalf of Kenney. Former District Attorney Lynne Abraham is lagging behind both Kenney and Williams. The Philadelphia Inquirer had the story first:

Kenney, with 33 percent of those polled, led Williams by nine points in a survey financed by Forward Philadelphia, a PAC formed to promote Kenney’s candidacy and funded, in part, by the American Federation of Teachers. Abraham had 18 percent in that poll, which was conducted Monday through Wednesday. Nineteen percent of respondents said they were undecided.

Kenney’s campaign conducted its own poll from April 18 through Tuesday. That survey had Kenney at 30 percent, Williams at 26 percent, and Abraham at 17 percent, with 17 percent undecided.

Why It Matters: The two surveys were conducted after another poll by AFSCME found a virtual three-way tie between Kenney, Williams and Abraham. This means Kenney has gained ground in a short period of time, despite the fact that Williams’ super PAC supporters are pouring a boatload of cash into TV ads for the race. The big question: Will Kenney’s lead stick? His super PAC allies are on track to spend $2 million over the course of the campaign, while Williams’ backers are expected to spend twice that. Read more »

Is Jim Kenney a True Progressive?

True progressive? | Photo by Jeff Fusco

True progressive? | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Like a good Catholic boy, City Councilman Jim Kenney was attending mass in South Philadelphia.

Unlike a good Catholic boy — at least as far as the Vatican was concerned — Kenney was supporting a bill to extend partner benefits to gay city employees. Read more »

New Poll Shows Virtual Three-Way Tie in Mayor’s Race

Photos by Jeff Fusco.

Photos by Jeff Fusco.

Talk to some political insiders, and they’ll tell you that state Sen. Anthony Williams has this mayoral election in the bag. He is the only top-tier black candidate in the race, which means he’ll likely win a chunk of the black vote, and he has the support of a super PAC that’s on track to spend a whopping $4 million.

Talk to others, and they’ll insist that former City Councilman Jim Kenney is going to win. He’s labor’s sweetheart, he’s picking up critical endorsements left and right, and he has his own super PAC friends. As for former District Attorney Lynne Abraham? As the candidate with the most name recognition but no love from super PACs, many believe that she has nowhere to go but down.

Well, guess what? With less than a month to go till Election Day, it’s still a close three-way race between Williams, Kenney and Abraham, according to a poll commissioned by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Read more »

The Brief: Tony Williams Dodges a Bullet

anthony-williams-jeff-fusco-940x540

1. Anthony Williams Scores an Endorsement from the Black Clergy, But Just Barely

The Gist: State Sen. Anthony Williams will officially accept the endorsement from the Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity Thursday morning. But he almost didn’t receive the nod: “The endorsement comes with an asterisk,” the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Chris Brennan writes. “Former City Councilman James F. Kenney won the majority vote when the group’s political committee voted, before the full membership. … [The] group split on the candidates between the committee vote and the full vote.”
Read more »

The Brief: Watch the Most Compelling Ad of the Campaign

Doug Oliver. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Doug Oliver. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

1. Doug Oliver Has a Compelling, Kind-of-Controversial, Television Ad

The Gist: Doug Oliver, who’s running a shoestring mayoral campaign, has scraped up enough cash for a modest media campaign. His TV spot, which is airing on local cable, is unconventional and maybe a little bit controversial. It’s also unusually compelling and effective. Read more »

The Brief: Ed Rendell Endorses Candidate for … Council?

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

1. Ed Rendell Throws His Weight Behind Council Contender Paul Steinke

The Gist: Former Gov. and Mayor Ed Rendell is backing Democrat Paul Steinke, a past general manager of the Reading Terminal Market, in his bid for City Council At-Large. Rendell said at a press conference, “I believe he has the courage, the integrity and the willingness to work with people to bring Center City and the neighborhoods together. … This is an uphill fight, but I think we need change. There’s some good people on City Council, but City Council’s performance on things like the PGW contract — it’s not good.” Read more »

Here’s Why (Insert Your Favorite Candidate’s Name) Will Win the Mayor’s Race

Photos by Jeff Fusco.

Photos by Jeff Fusco.

There are just 29 days remaining before Philadelphians choose the city’s next mayor. It doesn’t feel that way; not given how low voter interest appears to be in the race, and the late start the candidates got on this election season. But the calendar disagrees. Believe it: this is the home stretch of one of the sleepiest mayoral elections in the city’s modern era.

And right now, it looks like a tossup. There are viable paths to victory — or to crushing defeat — for each of the field’s three leading contenders: State Senator Anthony H. Williams, former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, and former City Councilman Jim Kenney. The odds are longer, like a lot, lot, longer, for the other candidates, but we’ll look at the next 29 days may have in store for them as well. First, the favorites. Read more »

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