Hard Jabs — But No Knockouts — at Philadelphia Mayoral Debate

Mayoral Candidates Six Grid

This was a status quo debate. Nobody got pummeled, nobody emerged as triumphantly victorious. As a group, the contenders seemed a bit on edge, aware of how little time is remaining in this race to make their case, but not entirely sure how to do so. A few punches were thrown, mostly at Jim Kenney, but I’m not sure any landed. Nelson Diaz said he would like some marijuana. Milton Street was (relatively) subdued. Doug Oliver turned in another strong performance. Lynne Abraham, whose physical collapse on the last debate stage dominated headlines for days, was fine, but not strong enough to fundamentally change the dynamics of the race, which are now working against her. Anthony Williams, who was arguably the winner of the first debate, was more pugnacious but less commanding this time around.

Kenney overall fared pretty well, certainly better than he did in the first Philadelphia mayoral debate (which was a really weird night, given Abraham’s collapse). Of the top tier candidates — who appear to be locked in a three-way tie — Kenney probably performed best. He fended off the attacks with relative ease and responded to a lot of the questions with substantive answers. But he whiffed on a few too. It was hardly a trouncing.

So it was a status quo debate, but with a hard edge that foreshadows the seemingly inevitable negativity to come. 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: 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 »

Why Didn’t Lynne Abraham Prosecute a Cop Who Shot a 20-Year-Old in the Back?

Lynne Abraham | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Lynne Abraham | Photo by Jeff Fusco

Before Michael Brown and Eric Garner were household names, an off-duty police sergeant shot Lawrence Allen in the back in Philadelphia on Nov. 17, 2008.

Allen was paralyzed and, three months later, he died. He was 20 years old.

Lynne Abraham, the city’s district attorney at the time, decided not to press charges against Sgt. Chauncey Ellison, the cop who shot Allen, or his then-girlfriend, Officer Robin Fortune, who was involved in the melee.

Allen’s family was furious. “How could you say it’s not murder?” his father asked the Daily News in 2010. “My son suffered like a wounded animal until he died.”

Six-and-a-half years later, Abraham is running for mayor and police-involved killings are a source of major controversy throughout the nation. The U.S. Department of Justice just issued a critical report on police shootings in Philadelphia. And, most saliently, Ellison and Fortune were convicted of reckless endangerment when District Attorney Seth Williams reopened the case after succeeding Abraham.

If she could do it all over again, would Abraham still have chosen not to prosecute? And will that decision come back to haunt her in the mayor’s race? 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 »

Seven Reasons to Feel Super About Center City

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Philadelphians are head over heels in love with Center City.

More than 87 percent of downtown residents and workers believe Center City is headed in the right direction, whereas only 62 percent think that is the case for the entire city, according to a poll of 2,700 people by the Center City District.

Their optimism is well-founded. The CCD’s annual report, which the nonprofit released Monday, is full of good news:
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 »

How Philadelphia’s Fuzzy Racial Math Could Tip the Mayoral Election

Photographs by Jeff Fusco

Photographs by Jeff Fusco

Eight months into Michael Nutter’s first year as mayor, the New York Times Magazine published an 8,200-word story headlined “Is Obama the End of Black Politics?

It was a deliberately provocative question, and one that resonated in Philadelphia. Nutter, who featured prominently in the story, had won office a year before with an unprecedented multiracial coalition. Barack Obama had just delivered his remarkable speech on race — an address that seemed to convince many white voters to support him — at the Philadelphia Constitution Center.

At the time, it seemed very much as though Philadelphia’s long tradition of racial politics — that is, the tendency of whites and blacks alike to vote mostly for candidates of the same race — was winding down.

Well, not so fast. Read more »

Is Sexism Hurting Lynne Abraham?

Lynne Abraham | Photo by Matt Rourke

Lynne Abraham | Photo by Matt Rourke

When mayoral candidate Lynne Abraham collapsed this month on live television, the Daily News asked, “Is this the end for Lynne Abraham?” The Inquirer wrote that her fainting spell was “a serious setback for a candidate who has already had to fend off questions about her age.” Citified, too, said the incident “was, for Abraham’s electoral prospects, a potentially devastating moment.”

During an interview with Citified, Abraham argued that the news coverage of her collapse was amplified because she is a woman. Abraham is the only woman running for mayor in the Democratic primary race, and if elected, she would be the first female mayor in the history of Philadelphia.

“They treated me differently because I’m a woman,” she says. “I believe that they wouldn’t have treated it half as excited as if any one of the other male candidates didn’t drink water and had a fainting spell.”

Does Abraham have a point? Read more »

3 Reasons A Municipal Bank Is A Bad Idea

piggy bank

Mayoral candidate Anthony Williams has been floating an idea for a municipal bank. The proposed bank, which would be owned and run by the city would focus on helping small businesses in the city who are unable to get loans from mainstream banks.

I not only run a small business but I also write every day on small business topics for the Washington Post and every week for Forbes, Inc. and Entrepreneur magazines. My company has more than 600 small business clients and I speak to and interview thousands of small business owners around the country every year. If you’re familiar with the other things I write for Philly Mag you may agree that I don’t know much about a lot of things. But please allow that I’m more than a little familiar with the issues facing the country’s 30 million small businesses, let alone the tens of thousands in this city. So with that in mind I feel obligated to help Anthony Williams because he seems like a nice guy.

Mr. Williams…the municipal bank thing? Not a great idea. And here’s why. Read more »

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