Sam Katz for Mayor? He’ll Decide Within a Week

In or out? Katz says he'll make a public decision before the primary election.

By the inimitable @dhm.

By the inimitable @dhm.

Sam Katz is about to get off the fence.

The documentary filmmaker and three-time mayoral candidate says he’ll decide whether or not to take one last shot at the big chair before Tuesday’s mayoral primary, which is just eight days away.

Katz, who’s changed his party registration two or 12 times in the last few years, is now a registered independent. In the fall election, he’d be facing off against Republican nominee Melissa Murray Bailey, who is unopposed in the GOP primary, and whoever wins Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Most of the chatter around a potential Katz candidacy has assumed he’d only run in Anthony Williams emerged as the victor in Tuesday’s primary, and then only if he was battered and bruised. Why? Because Philadelphia voters tend to vote along racial lines, and Katz is likely to start with a bigger base if he were to run against a black candidate than if he were to run against a white one.

Now Katz says he won’t wait to find out who wins next Tuesday’s primary election.

“I’ll be making the decision based on what I want to do and not based on what anyone else does,” Katz says.

Well, what factors is he considering?

“That’s talking about a process, and who wants to watch sausage getting made,” Katz says.

For much of the last few months, Katz has operated as something of a stealth candidate. He’s published two substantive policy papers and created a campaign-ish website with the URL

Katz lost his second mayoral bid to John Street in 1999 by about 7,200 votes. He lost the rematch in 2003 by nearly 78,000 votes.

If he were to run against Jim Kenney or Anthony Williams — the two candidates with the best chances of winning next week’s election — Katz would face formidable obstacles, beginning with the overwhelming party registration advantage that Democrats enjoy in Philadelphia (add to that money, union support, the backup of virtually the entire political class, etc. etc.).

On the other hand, Katz is a veteran campaigner, and he’d surely choose to embrace his status as an outsider. If Williams were to win, Katz could rail against the undue influence the rich guys from the suburbs that are backing Williams have had on the campaign. If Kenney emerges victorious, Katz could campaign as the last man in the city not wholly in the pocket of John Dougherty and the public employee unions. Would it be enough to overcome the enormous advantages the Democratic nominee will have? Probably not. But counting out Katz would be a mistake.