Insider: Black Pols Will “Rue the Day” They Backed Kenney

The Kenney coalition. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

The Kenney coalition. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

(Editor’s note: This is an opinion column from a Citified insider. McCalla is a policy consultant who has provided pro bono advice to mayoral candidate Anthony H. Williams, amongst other candidates this election cycle.) 

Over the last several weeks, culminating in the Tuesday election of Jim Kenney as the Democratic nominee for mayor, an historic shift was taking place amongst African American pols that creates a new reality in city politics.

Black political empowerment, before it went from a movement to a slogan, was fiercely predicated on cultural affinity. That is to say, like most Philadelphians, Blacks were going to “vote race.” Through the 1960’s, only three or four black elected officials — Congressman Robert Nix, Republican Councilwoman Ethel Allen, Councilmen Earl Vann and Tom McIntosh — made it into office in Philadelphia and not all at once. Political impotence combined with the oscillating indifference/hostility of City Hall, forged the determination to grow in power as the black population grew. Read more »

Exactly How Wasteful Was the Tony Williams Campaign?

Photos by Jeff Fusco

Photos by Jeff Fusco

The only metric that really matters in an election is the vote count. But it’s interesting to look at which candidates got the most value with their campaign spending. One blunt way to look at that is to see how many votes the candidates get per dollar spent.

Jim Kenney fared pretty well, as you would expect. His victory cost him about $12 per vote, and $30 per vote if you factor in his super PAC support, and you definitely should. Anthony Williams and his super PAC? A gobstopping $149 per vote won. Wow.

Who got the most bang for his limited buck? Doug Oliver. He spent a measly $4 for every vote he won. And for that we’ll give Oliver campaign manager Mustafa Rashed the very last official campaign insult of the mayoral primary: “If you want to know why our city is in the fiscal shape it is in, look no further to how people in office manage their money.”

Shots fired — for the last time. Read more »

The Mayoral Election’s Other Big Winner? Doug Oliver.

Photos | Malcolm Burnley

Photos | Malcolm Burnley

In five or 10 years, we may look back at the past three months as the seminal moment in Doug Oliver’s political career. Or maybe not. It all depends on what his next move, or moves, will be. Will Oliver stay on the political track? Or choose the private sector, where he’s likely to have plenty of options?

Oliver’s run — whether it proves seminal or ephemeral — was fun while it lasted. He gave the campaign a badly need jolt of charisma and optimism. His campaign supplied more than a few inspired moments: releasing a fake poll to mess with the press; asking kids at a forum if they considered the police friends or foes; his out-of-the-box TV ad, to name a few examples.

True, he earned just 4.25 percent of the vote. But that was more than Nelson Diaz, and a lot more than Milton Street. It seems likely that Oliver was the #2 choice for a lot of Jim Kenney voters as well, including Jim Kenney himself. Tuesday’s big winner joked at his polling place “I was thinking about Doug Oliver but I voted for myself.”

So despite his fourth-place finish, Oliver is Ed Rendell’s darling and a rising star with a bright political future (if he wants it). Oh, and he did it with a war chest of just $43,000.

Citified sat down with the candidate at his modest post-election party in Germantown, about an hour after the primary was called for Kenney. Read more »

The Brief: Jim Kenney and the Rebirth of Big City Liberalism

Liberals ascendant? | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Big city liberals ascendant? | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

1. Kenney’s victory is latest in series of liberal City Hall wins.

The gist: The big east coast cities of New York, Boston and Philadelphia have all elected pronounced left-leaning mayors to replace the likes of Michael Nutter, Michael Bloomberg and Boston’s pragmatic Thomas Menino. The Inquirer’s outstanding Thomas Fitzgerald ties together those threads (he could have included Rahm Emanuel’s unexpectedly tough re-election fight against the liberal Chuy Garcia in Chicago). Read more »

Move Over, 4th Street Deli — It’s Time for Some Relish

Election day scenes from Relish. | Photos by Bradley Maule and Liz Spikol.

Election day scenes from Relish. | Photos by Bradley Maule and Liz Spikol.

Relish, the gourmet Southern restaurant on Ogontz Avenue in West Oak Lane, hums with anticipation in the hour before lunch on Election Day. Women dressed in black polish water glasses and clean the glass doors that lead to the area the restaurant calls its veranda, with terra cotta-colored walls, ceiling fans and arched wooden-beam ceilings. Beyond that is the dining room, where tables are set today with white tablecloths and centerpieces with red and blue stars, for a patriotic feel. The buffet is being set up in the Jazz Café, which also has a long wooden bar.

The manager, Chris, in a crisp blue shirt, is busy debating the placement of a table, so he doesn’t have time to coddle journalists. But he definitely wants me out of the veranda area, so I go to a waiting area, where I sit across from another early arrival, Jewel Mann-Lassiter, who owned a restaurant in the area for many years and now owns the catering company Tuxedo. Mann-Lassiter has known Dwight Evans for many years, she says, and it was Evans who brought her into the Jim Kenney fold. She’s now planning to hold a fundraiser for Kenney in her penthouse at Alden Park, the 38-acre historic landmark gated community on Wissahickon Avenue. “We wouldn’t have this if it weren’t for Dwight,” she says, and by “this” she means this celebration of Kenney and, I suppose, his putative mayoral win. It’s a sentiment I hear again and again. Dwight Evans made this happen. People worry about Kenney owing John Dougherty after he gets into office. Seems to me he’ll be far more indebted to Evans. Read more »

Jim Kenney Wins in Historic Landslide

Jim Kenney accepts the Democratic nomination for mayor. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Jim Kenney accepts the Democratic nomination for mayor. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Updated 5/20/2015 with nearly final election results.

Jim Kenney won the Democratic mayoral primary in dominating fashion Tuesday night, capturing neighborhoods across the city in a showing that proved his appeal to low- and high-income voters, to blacks and whites, to Philadelphians new and old.

Kenney defeated chief rival Anthony Williams by a staggering margin of 30 percentage points. Lynne Abraham collected less than 10 percent of the vote. Doug Oliver and Nelson Diaz were around four percent, and Milton Street stood at less than two percent.

This was a shellacking. Kenney’s percentage point margin of victory is the largest of any competitive Democratic mayoral primary since at least 1979.

“Our campaign was a broad and unprecedented coalition of diverse groups, many of whom came together for the first time to support me,” Kenney said in his brisk victory speech, with prominent labor and political supporters at his back. “We must work together with the understanding that every neighborhood matters.”

The victory comes with a significant asterisk: low voter turnout. Only 27 percent of all registered voters cast ballots. Democratic turnout was hardly any better, at just 29 percent.

Read more »

The Official Philadelphia Election Day Drinking (and Drugging!) Game


It may seem difficult to believe, but there was a time when all bars in Philadelphia — actually, the entire state — were closed on Election Day. Thank goodness that’s not the case anymore. And thanks to a certain guy who may be mayor before too long, you can even light up a big old spliff in front of your polling place on Election Day and not get more than a written citation. In other words, it’s time to par-tay. So here, we bring your official guide to how to drink and otherwise get intoxicated on this pivotal day in Philadelphia’s history. Read more »

The Brief: “They Already Called the Election, But It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.”

Photos by Jeff Fusco

Photos by Jeff Fusco

1. The mayoral candidates spent the final weekend of the campaign insisting the race isn’t over yet.

The gist: The reverberations of last week’s Jim-Kenney-could-beat-FDR poll were still strong on the final weekend of the campaign, with Kenney, Anthony Williams and Lynne Abraham all insisting during traditional last-minute stops at city churches on Sunday that the mayoral race won’t be over until 8 p.m. Tuesday night. At a stop of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church in Nicetown, Williams was joined by U.S. Rep Chaka Fattah, who “decried the poll,” according to the Inquirer. Other speakers did as well: Read more »

The Case for Doug Oliver

Doug Oliver. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Doug Oliver. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

(Editor’s note: This week on Citified we’re featuring op-eds from supporters of the mayoral candidates. Monday, Ken Trujillo endorsed Jim Kenney. Tuesday, Ajay Raju made the case for Anthony Williams. Wednesday, Federico Peña argued for Nelson Diaz. Thursday, real estate Michael Sklaroff explained that Lynne Abraham was the best choice. Today, Matt Blank writes that Doug Oliver should be the city’s next mayor.)

It’s no secret that this is a critical moment in Philadelphia’s history. In the next 14 months, the city will host two events of global significance: the Democratic National Convention and the World Meeting of Families. We have a chance to show the world why Philadelphia is the best city in the nation.

It’s also no secret that Philadelphia is in the midst of a huge generational transition. More millennials have moved to Philadelphia over the past year six years than any other city in the country. Millennials comprise almost a third of the city’s population. The average Philadelphian is 33 years and seven months old.

Our city needs a mayor who can lead this changing Philadelphia. I believe Doug Oliver is that leader. Read more »

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