The Brief: Let the Hunger Games Begin, Finally

The cash-starved mayoral candidates finally seem ready to compete.

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Can it be? Have we finally, belatedly, reached the end of the months-long mayoral preamble? Maybe so.

The Democratic mayoral field now appears set. Barring a handful of big-name exceptions who simply aren’t going to get into the race, there is just not enough time for anybody else to to enter the contest and hope to win. The candidate rumor mill has gone quiet at last. Like it or not, these seem to be your Democratic options, Philadelphia.

Encouragingly, late last week the candidates began to act somewhat more candidate-esque. Doug Oliver impressed with a rousing campaign launch over the weekend. Jim Kenney waded into the frothy school choice waters with a statement urging the School District of Philadelphia to reject the Philadelphia School Partnership’s offer of $35 million in aid, in exchange for enrolling 11,000 or more kids in new charter schools. The campaign had its first official flip-flop, in the form of Lynne Abraham’s, er, reconsideration, of the evils of marijuana decriminalization. Anthony H. Williams landed the endorsement of SEPTA Transit Workers Union Local 235 (that’s Willie Brown’s shop). Even the city GOP exhibited sings of life, courting recently retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille to see if he’d perchance run for mayor. Castille declined, but hey, it’s good to know the Republican Party would like to run somebody.

On the other hand, the candidates are broke. They raised so little cash in 2014 that it’s not entirely clear how they any of them will get their message out this election—certainly television won’t be an option, unless fundraising picks up in a big, big way, and fast.

That probably leaves the messaging door open to unaccountable Super PACs. But maybe, just maybe, the cash shortage will force the mayoral candidates to say yes to a few more interviews, to participate in more community forums than they otherwise would. Citified hopes so, and we’ve got a series of substantive interviews with the candidates to share this week.

Our interview with State Senator Anthony Williams is published in two parts, one Sunday the other Monday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, you’ll hear from former at-large City Councilman Jim Kenney. We’ve already memorably brought you Lynne Abraham. Still to come: Doug Oliver, Nelson Diaz and Milton Street.

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