The Brief: Ed Rendell Endorses Candidate for … Council?

Plus, Manny Morales is back in the news.

1. Ed Rendell Throws His Weight Behind Council Contender Paul Steinke

The Gist: Former Gov. and Mayor Ed Rendell is backing Democrat Paul Steinke, a past general manager of the Reading Terminal Market, in his bid for City Council At-Large. Rendell said at a press conference, “I believe he has the courage, the integrity and the willingness to work with people to bring Center City and the neighborhoods together. … This is an uphill fight, but I think we need change. There’s some good people on City Council, but City Council’s performance on things like the PGW contract — it’s not good.”

Why It Matters: Rendell has not yet endorsed a candidate for mayor, and he says he is unlikely to do so. Yet he’s endorsing Steinke for Council. (Rendell is also supporting Allan Domb in the Council At-Large race, as well as incumbent 7th District Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez.) This is yet another indication that Philadelphia’s City Council has gained clout in recent years. And perhaps it’s also partly an attempt by Rendell to appear relevant in 2015. Regardless, it’s great news for Steinke. A whopping 16 Democrats are vying for just five At-Large seats, and several are formidable campaigners.

2. Latino Group Drops Endorsement for Nelson Diaz, Backs Jim Kenney Instead

The Gist: The group Latinos United for Political Empowerment has announced that it is no longer supporting former city solicitor Nelson Díaz for mayor, and is endorsing former City Councilman Jim Kenney instead. Díaz is the only Latino in the race. Al Dia reports on the backstory:

The switch came allegedly after Díaz refused to endorse the controversial 7th District challenger Manny Morales.

Latinos United for Political Empowerment (LUPE), an organization developed in 2014 to build political alliances within the Philadelphia Latino community, told Díaz that if he did not support reaffirm his support of Morales, he would lose their endorsement.

… “My integrity is the most important asset I have, and so I said no,” [said Díaz]. “If supporting Manny Morales is the price of this endorsement, it is not a price I am willing to pay. Apparently Jim Kenney is willing to make that deal.”

Morales is, of course, the 7th District Council candidate who compared gay men to flatworms on Facebook. Morales says his Facebook account was hacked, but he has provided no evidence to back up his claim. Unsurprisingly, Team Kenney denies Díaz’s charge:

“We absolutely do not support Manny and we made no such deal,” Lauren Hitt, Kenney’s campaign spokesperson, said. “There are a lot of members of LUPE who revoked their endorsement after all of the allegations came to light, just as Mr. Díaz did. They’ve also endorsed a number of candidates for City Council who do not endorse Manny either. Mr. Díaz is obviously just embarrassed that he lost an endorsement from a Latino organization, and he’s making some pretty offensive and baseless accusations as a result.”

Why It Matters: The mayoral race continues to highlight divisions within Philadelphia’s Latino political class. Yesterday, Citified said that the best-case scenario for Díaz is “record-breaking Latino turnout that validates the community’s role as an emerging political power.” This internal strife could make that difficult for Díaz to pull off. Plus, will the negativity of the race cause some Latino voters to stay home on Election Day?

3. Hundreds Attend Tech-Themed Mayoral Talk

The Gist: Five of the six Democratic mayoral candidates attended a Philly Tech Week forum, where they discussed Twitter, open data, paperless government and more. Roughly 350 people attended the event at the Free Library, Technically Philly reports.

Why It Matters: Our friends over at Technically Philly said it well: “It’s a testament to the Philadelphia tech scene and its growing power that nearly all the candidates spoke at the event, which focused on a niche outside of most of the candidates’ comfort zones.”