The Brief: Watch the Most Compelling Ad of the Campaign

Plus, when endorsements attack!

Doug Oliver. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Doug Oliver. | Photo by Jeff Fusco.

1. Doug Oliver Has a Compelling, Kind-of-Controversial, Television Ad

The Gist: Doug Oliver, who’s running a shoestring mayoral campaign, has scraped up enough cash for a modest media campaign. His TV spot, which is airing on local cable, is unconventional and maybe a little bit controversial. It’s also unusually compelling and effective.

Why It Matters: Oliver has run a strong campaign, but he’s still mired in second-tier candidate territory. Forums only get you so far, particularly if, like Oliver, you start the race as a relative unknown. This is Oliver’s big play to change that dynamic. The ad itself is entirely different from the norm. It’s got a bit of an edge to it — the whole thing is narrated by North Philadelphia activist Sheila Armstrong — and it takes a shot at the career politicians in the race. It’s a strong ad, the sort that stands out. It needs to stand out, given Oliver’s ridiculously long odds. The ad is also taking some flak over Armstrong’s colloquial narration and the campaign’s cleaned-up, on-screen transcription of her speech. Will that drown out the ad’s effectiveness? I doubt it. That looks like a red herring. The rest of the ads out there are bland. This one is far and away the most memorable of the bunch, and it’s the kind of ad that could make an impact… If Oliver can get it in front of enough people, either through TV or social media.

2. Awkward: Jim Kenney Hangs With Manny Morales

The Gist: Al Dia has video of Jim Kenney receiving the endorsement of Latinos United for Political Empowerment or LUPE; that’s the group of Latino pols backing Manny Morales, the guy with the reprehensible Facebook feed who is running against 7th District Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez. The same group had backed Nelson Diaz for mayor before, but Diaz says they abandoned him after he withdrew his support of Morales, for, well, his extensive history of seemingly disqualifying Facebook posts. Quick example: His post wondering aloud if gay men, like flatworms (yes! flatworms!), “use their bifurcated penises to fence one another.” Morales has denied making the posts, which go back years and years. So his denials are preposterous, and his fitness as a candidate is … deeply questionable.

Why It Matters: Endorsements are supposed to be good things, right? It’s looking like this one is more trouble than it’s worth for Kenney. Morales is the last figure in the city someone like Kenney — who’s trying to build a big tent coalition including a lot of groups Morales casually bashed online — should be associating with. Kenney’s campaign says he’s not formally endorsing Morales, or giving him money. No doubt that’s true. But he shook hands with the man and went to an endorsement party with him. And it’s entirely plausible that some of Kenney’s supporters will be lending Morales a hand. We won’t know that until the eve of the election, when the next round of campaign finance reports are due. And what does Kenney get out this fiasco? The votes of those Latinos who hate Sanchez more than they want the chance to vote for Nelson Diaz, the first Latino to run for mayor in Philadelphia’s history. There are some of those voters, but one wonders how many, and one wonders if those votes are really worth Kenney’s brush with Morales.

Diaz is the one getting the real short end here. He had no option but to withdraw his support of Morales after his Facebook posts went public. Had he capitulated to LUPE’s demands to start supporting Morales again he would been buried by the press and Sanchez’s base. It’s a lose-lose for Diaz, and one that makes it that less likely his long-shot campaign will ever break into the top tier.

What does the incident mean for Latino political power? Let’s let Al Dia’s Sabrina Vourvoulias (and her excellent choice of stock photo imagery) do the explaining. It’s a setback, to be sure. But these sorts of divisions and factional fights are hardly exclusive to the city’s Latino political community.

3. Johnny Doc, the Quiet Kingmaker?

The Gist: Dave Davies at Newsworks explores John Dougherty’s quiet — but potentially enormous — role in the mayor’s race. He observes that Dougherty has been keeping an awfully low public profile in this campaign, while at the same time many suspect that he’s using union funds to bankroll a big independent expenditure effort on Kenney’s behalf. Writes Davies:

But how much help is Dougherty giving Kenney’s mayoral effort?

Nobody knows, because the union’s donations are apparently being routed through a super PAC that isn’t easy to get answers from.

I left five un-returned messages last week for Sprinkler Fitters union leader Wayne Miller, identified last year as chairman of Building a Better Pa, the super PAC that’s running ads promoting Kenney.

Local 98 gave that group 65 percent of the money it raised in 2014, but neither the PAC nor Dougherty’s union will say whether Local 98 has given a little, or a lot, or even all of the more than $600,000 Building a Better Pa has spent on pro-Kenney ads this year.

Why It Matters: There’s been a lot of (entirely appropriate) attention paid in this race to Anthony Williams’ deep-pocketed Super PAC supporters, but a lot less on Dougherty, which is interesting, given that the press is usually pretty obsessed with the man. That’s partly due to his low profile in this campaign, and partly to the fact that, since the pro-Kenney Super PACs spun up after the last campaign finance reporting deadline, there’s precious little information available about who’s paying for it. By law, the Super PAC can’t coordinate with the Kenney campaign. That probably explains part of Doc’s retiring ways in this mayoral race. Or is it that he’s actually just not spending a lot of time (or money?) on the mayoral race, given his stated priority of helping his brother Kevin Dougherty win election to the Supreme Court? As Davies writes, we just don’t know.