The Brief: Attorney Says Black Pols’ Endorsement of Kenney Has Past Black Leaders “Rolling Over in their Graves”

Plus: The Democratic machine supports no one for mayor.

L to R: Anthony Williams and Jim Kenney

L to R: Anthony Williams and Jim Kenney | Photos by Matt Rourke

1. Activists and Former Lawmakers from Northwest Philly Announce Support for Tony Williams After Controversial Jim Kenney Endorsement

The Gist: A group of community activists, former legislators and ministers from Northwest Philly said they are surprised and dismayed by the fact that several black politicians in the area have endorsed former City Councilman Jim Kenney, who is white, for mayor. At an event Thursday, they said they are supporting state Sen. Anthony Williams, the only top-tier black candidate in the race, instead.

NewsWorks reports that attorney and former City Councilman George Burrell, one of the event’s speakers, said past black leaders such as U.S. Rep. Bill Gray and City Councilwoman Augusta Clark “are rolling over in their graves at the notion that respected African-American elected officials who essentially represent an African-American constituency would turn over the mayor’s office voluntarily to a community other than our own.” 

Why It Matters: The endorsement of Kenney by state Rep. Dwight Evans, Councilwoman Marian Tasco and other African-American politicians continues to be a source of major controversy within black political circles. The message of the group on Thursday was that, while Evans and Tasco may support Kenney, that certainly doesn’t mean that most black voters (or most Northwest Philadelphia voters) do, which is similar to the point made by business leader Bruce Crawley in a Philadelphia Tribune op-ed.

2. Philadelphia’s Democratic Machine Supports No One for Mayor

The Gist: The Inquirer reports that U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of Philadelphia’s Democratic City Committee, says ward leaders were torn on who to support for mayor in the May 19th primary. Most of the party, he said, was either behind Kenney or Williams. The solution? The DCC is not endorsing anyone.

Why It Matters: This is a loss for Williams, and a small win for Kenney. Brady has long personally supported Williams in the mayor’s race, so it was assumed that he would get the lion’s share of votes from ward leaders. Part of the reason Williams has been seen as the frontrunner is because of his anticipated institutional backing.

3. Milton Street Is Staying on the Ballot

The Gist: A panel of Commonwealth Court judges has rejected an appeal filed on behalf of a union leader who is trying to get ex-convict and former state Sen. Milton Street kicked off the primary ballot, the Inky reports. Joseph Coccio Jr., treasurer of the Transit Workers Union Local 234, previously challenged Street’s candidacy in Common Pleas Court, saying that Street cannot run for mayor as a Democrat because he lives in New Jersey and was registered as an Independent when he filed nominating petitions.

Coccio’s attorney said he has not yet decided whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Worth noting: Coccio’s union is backing Williams for mayor.

Why It Matters: Milton Street is apparently indestructible. Also, as we’ve said before, it’s bad news for Williams if Street stays on the ballot (because both candidates are black and Philadelphians tend to vote along racial lines), and good news for the other mayoral candidates.