The Brief: As Baltimore Riots, Philadelphia Watches
1. As Baltimore rages, Philadelphia watches uneasily.
The gist: Peaceful protests in Baltimore were overshadowed by violent rioting Monday night, as outrage over the death of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody continued to grow. The National Guard has been called in, a week-long curfew is in effect, and fires, looting and clashes with police were reported in many sections of the city.
Why it matters: The scenes out of Baltimore are disturbing enough on their own, but the city’s parallels with Philadelphia make the chaos that much more worrisome. Philadelphia is plagued by many of the same economic and social problems as Baltimore. Like Baltimore, relations between police and residents here have historically been troubled. There have been signs of recent strain as well, and Philadelphia has had its own problems with “nickel rides.” Police and city officials are acutely aware of all of this, and are sure to be on high alert. Police and community relations have already been a big issue in the mayoral campaign. Expect the issue to loom even larger now.
2. The gloves came off at WHYY’s mayoral debate Monday, and Jim Kenney took most of the blows.
The gist: As Brian Hickey reports for Newsworks, Kenney was asked: “What do you say to critics who claim that Dougherty would have too much influence in city government if you win? And, would you appoint him to any office?” He replied: “He will not have any undue influence. I know how to say no.” Nelson Diaz and Anthony Williams took exception to that. The Inquirer reports:
“Jimmy Kenney said he wasn’t going to run because he didn’t have the money,” Williams said. “Then, literally three months into the process, he decides to run because John Dougherty says, ‘We’ll take care of it.’ That’s the bottom line, and that’s the truth.”
Former Common Pleas Judge Nelson A. Diaz piled on, saying Kenney had “totally given himself” to Local 98’s interest.
“You’ve got a PAC that’s controlled by Johnny Doc that’s putting millions of dollars into his TV ads,” Diaz said.
Kenney ignored Diaz, who is trailing in the race, and focused on Williams, his closest competitor in last week’s polls.
Kenney said he did not “get into this race at the behest” of Dougherty – and “I certainly didn’t get into this race to promote the agenda of three hedge-fund billionaires who want to privatize our education system.”
Why it matters: As the days before May 19, election day, dwindle away, expect the perceived frontrunner, which now looks to be Kenney, to take a lot of hits, and for the debates and forums still left on the calendar to grow more combative. Thus far, it’s been Diaz and Williams who have most aggressively gone after Kenney. Abraham has been taking a lower-key approach, though she criticized Williams and Kenney alike in her first TV ad of the campaign.
3. Incumbent City Commissioner Stephanie Singer gives up her re-election bid.
The gist: City Commissioner Stephanie Singer held a peculiar sort of rally Monday morning. According to the Inquirer, she announced there: “This is an election I can no longer win.” Time has run out on Singer’s bid to get back on the ballot, after she was booted for failing to secure enough 1,000 signatures from registered Democrats for her nominating petitions. Singer filed 1,485 signatures, but after challenges, only 996 were found by the courts to be valid.
Why it matters: It’s not everyday an elections official gets bounced from an election because of her inability to meet an election’s basic qualifying requirements, but that’s Singer. She’s had an eventful, turbulent run as commissioner. Now she leaves an opening on the three-member commission, and there are a bevvy of candidates looking to replace her. Tonight, the Inquirer’s Chris Brennan and myself will be moderating a conversation with the commissioner candidates. Join us.