Pulse: Chatter: Power: The Brady Bunch

Bob Brady looked to be down for the count — until good old-fashioned Philly politics kicked in

A few months ago, U.S. Congressman Bob Brady had lost his bid for mayor by a mile, and a heady opponent — an African-American doctor who enjoyed the support of two local kingmakers — arrived on the scene to challenge him for the seat he’s held in Washington for five terms. Reform in the air threatened to suffocate him.

Or not. Today, Brady looks more powerful than ever. His opponent, Keith Leaphart, has withdrawn; Leaphart’s Daddy Warbucks supporters, Gerry Lenfest and Peter Buttenwieser, evidently couldn’t be happier about it. And Brady didn’t lift a finger to make it happen. Instead, political rebirth came courtesy of the Great Reformer himself: Michael Nutter.

Shortly after Leaphart surfaced, Nutter penned an Inquirer editorial loudly announcing his support for Brady. Leaphart quietly backed out, purportedly to focus on his wife and new child. But he now acknowledges that Nutter’s move was a big factor. “I have a great deal of respect for Michael Nutter and the vision he has for Philadelphia,” Leaphart says. “And in that article, he recognized the need for new leadership, but said that right now, what we need — what he needs — is people like Congressman Brady who have the experience to accomplish his agenda.”

Substitute the words “raw power” for “experience,” and the doctor is definitely on to something. As Nutter wrote, Brady’s senior status in Congress and goodwill among city labor union leaders will come in handy for the cash-strapped Nutter administration, which is facing tough labor negotiations with the city’s four largest municipal unions. “I think this is a win-win for everybody,” says Buttenwieser. “And it’s a good story, because everyone got together and saw the wisdom in this decision.”

Maybe. But there’s a kind of just-another-day-in-Philadelphia air to the whole thing. Leaphart landed a job as a consultant — to the Lenfest Foundation. In his new post, he’ll essentially serve as an executive on loan — to the Nutter administration. “I think this worked out for everyone,” says one politico.