The Brief: Who’s Even More Popular Than Mayor Nutter?

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, that's who, and the mayoral candidates should take note. Plus, Jim Kenney's Twitter id fights back.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Michael Nutter is so, so popular. We know because he commissioned (and his political committee paid for) a new poll proving it. His approval rating stands at 57 percent. That’s pretty good!

But you know who’s way, way more popular than Nutter? Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. Nutter’s pollsters asked what Philadelphia’s thought of Ramsey, and a staggering 75 percent approved of the job he was doing, while just 11 percent disapproved. Citified figures there’s not a public official in Philadelphia who could come close to touching Ramsey’s numbers.

In the age of Ferguson and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it’s nothing short of astounding that Philly’s police chief is the city’s most popular and probably most-trusted public servant. That raises an obvious question: why isn’t Ramsey a mayoral candidate?

asked him that last fall.

“Nah,” he told me. “Politics is not my thing. I have too low a tolerance of bullshit. So I’d have a hard time, man. I’d last about two hours. That’s just the truth.”

At the time I was walking with Ramsey on a sidewalk near the intersection of 22nd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. He was there on an impromptu stop, nothing scheduled, and even so, throngs of people were gathering around him. They wanted to see the commissioner. To talk to him for a few minutes. To introduce him to their kids. I’d never seen Philadelphians respond to a local public figure so warmly. “It’s like this everywhere we go,” Ramsey’s driver told me. People ask him to run for mayor all the time, every day, the driver said.

There’s no chance of that. Ramsey genuinely doesn’t want the job. But pretty soon now, the question of whether Ramsey will remain as police commissioner for the next mayor is going to become a campaign issue. None of the candidates have knocked Ramsey, so far as I know, and most have praised him. But he’s in his mid-60s. He could retire from this grind and spend more time on high-visibility work like President Obama’s post-Ferguson policing task force, which Ramsey co-chairs. But maybe, if the right candidate wins, he’d consider staying.

When asked about it last fall, Ramsey was uncharacteristically careful.

Ramsey: Well, a new mayor ought to pick his own police, commissioner. I think it’s a very important position. In fact, I know it is. Police commissioner and who runs your schools are probably the two most important appointments any mayor can make. And they ought to be free to make whatever choice they want to make. And, that’s just the way it is. We take these jobs…it’s at will, and I fully understand that, and I don’t have a problem with it at all.

Citified: Would you like to be chosen, again?

Ramsey: Well, the only problem with answering that question is then you put pressure on folks one way or the other.

Citified: I thought you said you didn’t like politics. That’s a pretty political answer.

Ramsey: No, it’s not. It’s really not putting somebody else in a corner. They should be able to pick their own person, whoever that person is… I came to work for Michael Nutter. And, we work well together, and I’ve been blessed to be here seven years. I do plan to stay with him through most, if not all, of his, of his term. And then we’ll see what, what happens after that.

Don’t Miss…

  • Chris Brennan reports for the Inquirer that the Republican City Committee—still lacking a mayoral candidate—tried to recruit Philadelphia Housing Authority President Kelvin Jeremiah. He declined, but seems interested in a run at some point in the future.
  • These innovative suggestions from Farah Jimenez on raising more revenue for public services.
  • Newsworks has a handy new mayoral endorsement tracker.
  • Check out our own master calendar of Philadelphia 2015 election events.
  • Dave Davies reports that Philadelphia School Partnership now has a PAC, which has donated $7,000 to Anthony William’s mayoral campaign. That led Jim Kenney’s campaign to attack Williams with some pretty tough rhetoric.

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