Sam Katz Inches Even Closer to a Mayoral Run

In the fall, that is.

Sam Katz pitching a fundraising campaign for his documentary series on the history of Philadelphia.

Sam Katz pitching a fundraising campaign for his documentary series on the history of Philadelphia.

Sam Katz says he has switched his party registration to Independent. Why does that matter? It’s a sign he is considering running for mayor for real, for real in the fall.

Speaking purely hypothetically to Citified last month, Katz explained the rationale for running as an Independent:

“From a governance point of view there’s a real advantage to being an Independent. People are sick of partisanship. Not that Philadelphia isn’t a Democratic city. It certainly is,” Katz said. “But there are people who are disaffected and who think of themselves as Independent. Not all people, but most people. Recently arrived Philadelphians; immigrants, millennials and empty nesters clearly think of themselves as Independent because they’re not, for the most part, part of the establishment.”

Katz, former chairman of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, was rumored to be thinking about running in the May 19th primary as a Democrat, but the entry of former City Councilman Jim Kenney in the race probably ruled out that possibility.

We have to point out that Katz has switched his party registration, um, more than once, so this doesn’t guarantee that he is running. If he does decide to jump into in the mayor’s race this fall, though, he’ll have some big challenges: a credibility problem because he’s an Independent long known for being registered as a Republican; also, it’s unclear whether Katz can effectively fundraise under the new city’s campaign finance limits.

But he’ll also have considerable strengths: The winner of the Democratic primary may be quite bloodied up by the time the general election rolls around. Katz, of course, also came thisclose to winning the mayoral election in 1999 as a Republican. Plus, like them or hate them, he’s got ideas in a race that has so far been sorely lacking in them.

“Over the next several weeks, my intention is to offer ideas and proposals that address what I see as the major challenges to the city’s future,” says Katz. “Hopefully, these ideas will generate support and reaction. Perhaps offering them will nudge the primary races for mayor and City Council towards a more substantive conversation.”