GOP’s Karen Brown Fires at Nutter in Mayoral Debate

The also-ran manages to hit the Mayor on flash mobs and taxes

Mayor Nutter will be easily re-elected next month. That was determined early this year, when serious potential challengers like Bill Green, Anthony Williams, Tom Knox and even John Street took a pass. It’s easy to understand why they chose to sit it out. Given the huge advantage of incumbency, Nutter was a heavy favorite to win regardless of who challenged him.

Still, given the blows that GOP token mayoral nominee Karen Brown managed to land during last night’s Fox 29 debate (which will be aired Friday night), you have to wonder if the trigger-shy heavies regret their decisions to let Nutter coast into a second term.

According to news reports of the debate, Brown took it to Nutter. She was loose with the facts, claiming, wrongly, that Nutter has raised the business privilege tax (it was property, sales and parking, not BPT) and favors mandatory paid sick leave (he vetoed that council bill). And it was obvious, as it has been all along, that Brown utterly lacks Nutter’s deep experience and knowledge of city government. But she nonetheless bloodied him a bit, and it’s enough to make you wonder what Green or Street might have done had they been up on stage with the Mayor.

When Nutter said he had run the city with “honesty and transparency,” Brown raised the issue of anonymous contributions to buy out Arlene Ackerman’s contract. “Ackerman and that secret money—how transparent was that?” she asked. She hit him on crime as well, an area Nutter has considered a strength in light of the 22 percent decrease in the homicide rate. Brown, though, reminded everyone that the mayor had pledged to reduce the homicide rate between 30 percent and 50 percent at his inaugural address. Then she got in another dig: “Flash mobs were nonexistent before you came along.” And she accused Nutter of taking a back seat role in managing the city’s schools, despite the fact that he appoints two of five members of the School Reform Commission. “I truly don’t think you are taking an active part in it,” she said.

Mostly, though, what Brown did was give voice to the sometimes-vague dissatisfaction that a lot of voters have about Nutter. After the debate was over, Brown told the Daily News that she’d voted for Nutter in 2007. “I believed in him, and I am one of the people who are very angry and feel that I can’t trust him.”

Brown should be commended for having the guts to run and for challenging Nutter so vigorously in what is likely to be her only chance at debating him. But look, Brown was a registered Democrat until about five minutes before the filing deadline to run for mayor, when she changed registrations and agreed to run so that the city’s pathetic GOP would have someone, anyone, to trot up there as a sacrificial lamb this November. Her official Facebook page has 85 likes. She hasn’t updated her campaign website in nearly a month. She doesn’t have a serious command of the issues, nor does she have the resume to be mayor.

The point is, Brown is not a credible candidate.

Nutter proved himself to be an effective debater in 2007, when he was sharing the stage with the likes of Dwight Evans, Chaka Fattah, Bob Brady and Tom Knox. But there’s no real way for him to “win” a debate against a non-candidate like Brown, so it’s easy to understand why so far he has agreed only to the one. But Brown, however messily, showed why it’s healthy for our elected leaders to actually get challenged and pushed when they seek public office. The shame of it is that she’s one of the few* willing to mount a challenge.

*Note: Uhuru-affiliated Wali Rahman is also running, as an Independent. At times his campaign has seemed more organized than Brown’s.

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