Bill Green for Mayor? For Council? For Anything?
Bill Green is the son of a Democratic mayor and the grandson of a Democratic congressman and city party chairman. He’s also a lifelong Democrat.
Or he used to be, at any rate. Yesterday, Green—a former City Councilman and current School Reform Commissioner—switched his party registration from Democrat to “no affiliation,” as first reported by the Inquirer’s Chris Brennan.
Why? “I just wanted to leave all the doors open to me for the fall,” Green said.
Translation: He might just for mayor, or try to reclaim an at-large City Council seat, by running in the general election as an independent.
Green stressed that neither option is likely. “I think it’s unlikely that I would make the decision to do this. I just don’t want to foreclose it in case something happens that would make me feel there’s a need to step up,” he said.
Green wouldn’t elaborate on what development might compel him to run for mayor, but it’s not hard to think of a scenario: Jim Kenney winning the Democratic nomination. Kenney and Green are, to put it mildly, not friendly. They feuded on City Council for years: sometimes over matters of substance, and sometimes because they really just don’t appear to like each other very much. That animus has probably only deepened in recent months as Kenney has campaigned as an ally of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Green, remember, tried to impose contract terms on the PFT back when he was SRC chairman.
This is getting awfully speculative, but would Green stand a chance if Kenney were to emerge as the Democratic nominee? The odds would be against him in a big way. Kenney would have the united support of the Democratic machine, city unions and progressives. Green would counter presumably with the support of ed reform advocates and, potentially, some big business supporters. But then again, what would Green have to lose by trying? Even if the school district makes a miraculous turnaround in the next few years, Green would probably not be credited by the public for the improvement, now that he’s no longer SRC chair. His political window is all but closed—so why not squeeze through while he still conceivably can?
Another option that Green seems to be keeping open is a run for an-large seat on City Council: his old job. It’s hard to imagine that appealing to Green, but if he were so inclined, he’d actually stand an excellent chance of winning. Why? Well Democrats are certain to win five of the seven at-large seats, as they always do. But the Charter sets aside two of the seven seats for candidates from non-majority parties. Those slots usually go to Republicans (the incumbents are David Oh and Dennis O’Brien), but there’s no reason an Independent couldn’t hold one of those two slots. With his name recognition, Green would probably trounce the GOP field.
When I asked Green about that possibility, he again downplayed the prospect of any run in the fall. When asked if he had changed registrations because he felt out of step with the Democratic party, he replied “no.”
“The best way to describe it was tactical and not strategic,” Green said.