The Brief: Stop Waiting For Superman, the Mayoral Field Is Final

Two candidates drop out, and one of those still standing is likely Philadelphia's next mayor. Plus, the GOP has a nominee.

Mayoral Candidates Six Grid

The mayoral table-setting is almost over. Nominating petitions—that first, formal hurdle candidates must clear—were due yesterday. And now the field has jelled.

The deadline proved too much for two of the most marginal Democratic candidates for mayor. Rev. Keith Goodman—who probably would not have survived a legal challenge to his residency anyway—bowed out. So too, it seems, has retired tow-truck driver Juan Rodriguez, who was best known—actually only known—for launching his short-lived candidacy from what appeared to the untrained eye to be a strip club (though Rodriguez could still theoretically mount a write-in campaign, as he did in 2011).

More importantly, there were no big surprises: no shocking dropouts, and no last-minute, celebrity candidates. Ed Rendell isn’t swooping in, nor is the ghost of Richardson Dilworth. This is the field we’ve got, and barring some epic surprise come the Fall election, one of the people below will become Philadelphia’s next mayor. Signature counts come either from the campaigns and this report from the Inquirer’s Chris Brennan and Julia Terruso:

  • Anthony H. Williams: 15,269 signatures filed. That’s a strong total.
  • Jim Kenney: 10,070 12,167. Pretty good.
  • Nelson Diaz: 4,939.
  • Doug Oliver: 4,125.
  • Lynne Abraham: 3,624. This is surprisingly low for a top-tier candidate. It’s surely enough to survive a ballot challenge (only 1,000 qualifying signatures are required), but it’s still a pretty meager showing. This suggests that a) either Abraham’s campaign made a strategic call not to get worked up about the signature count, or b) they are having some organizational problems.
  • Milton Street: 3,261. Not a bad total, and again, probably enough to survive a legal challenge, barring some very serious problems with signatures.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the 2015 candidates collectively came up short compared to their 2007 counterparts. Bob Brady filed a whopping 24,000 signatures; Dwight Evans came in at 17,000; Michael Nutter at 14,000; Chaka Fattah at 12,000 and Tom Knox at 10,000.

Do signature totals matter? Well, yes and no. It’s true that all you need to get on the ballot is 1,000 solid signatures. But a low figure leaves the door open to legal challenges. Signature totals are also seen as something of an (admittedly imperfect) proxy for the strength of a candidate’s field operation. If you’ve got a lot of volunteers willing to collect signatures for you, then that probably means you’ve got a lot of soldiers available to turn out voters on election day, too. On the other hand Brady’s early show of strength in 2007 didn’t exactly translate on election day.

Surprise! The GOP found a mayoral candidate.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side of the ticket there is…(imagine silence… like-last-human-on-earth silence…) Wait. Wait. What’s that? Why, that’s a pulse. There it is. Unmistakeable now. And it sounds like a living, breathing GOP mayoral candidate.

Just one though. Her name is Melissa Murray Bailey, she works for a headhunting firm, she moved to Philly a few years ago, and until January 26 she was a registered Democrat. Remember what we said about the one of the Democratic candidates almost surely getting elected in November? This sort of thing helps explains why. To be fair, the Republican party is showing much more vigorous signs of life in the City Council at-large race, with five challengers taking on the two incumbents. More on this later.

Down ballot, it’s mayhem.

Even sophisticated voters are going to need to bring cheat sheets in with them come election day.

A total of 21 Democrats are running for City Council at-large. If all of them survive ballot challenges and opt to stay in the race, that’ll be the biggest at-large field since 1999. The pickings are far more slim in District Council contests, where only five races feature more than a single Democratic nominee.

There are 60 Democrats—that’s right sixty—officially running for Court of Common Pleas. Sure, a lot of those will drop out if they get a lousy ballot position (which is determined by drawing bingo balls out of a Horn & Hardart coffee can), but even so, there’s going to be a lot of names for voters to sift through.

Don’t Miss…

  • So much win in this video featuring Dave Davies and South Philly Stoop Lady Patsy. Davies explains city ward politics outside the South Philadelphia Ac-a-me, because that’s exactly where it should be explained.
  • So much fail in this video from, interviewing folks on the street about the mayor’s race. Let’s just say there’s not a lot of familiarity with the candidates yet (on the other hand, there wasn’t a lot of hesitation when asked about what issues they’re most concerned about—schools and crime come up a lot).
  • District Attorney Seth Williams announced yesterday he was charging three more Philadelphia Democrats in connection with the sting abandoned early last year by Attorney General Kathleen Kane. Williams used the opportunity to take a few shots at Kane because that’s just the way it is with these two.
  • Former School Reform Commission Chairman Bill Green and current SRC Chairwoman Marjorie Neff held a joint press conference yesterday in an attempt to allay any worries the SRC might be roiled by Governor Tom Wolf’s sudden sacking of Green as chair last week. Green remains an SRC commissioner.
  • The Inquirer digs into five of the six mayoral candidates’ tax returns—Milton Street, who you’ll recall was convicted on tax evasion charges, declined to hand over his—and finds they all have some handsome incomes, starting with Lynne Abraham, who reported $428,982 in total income on her 2013 return.

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