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Candidates fight over dark money before their balls go in a legendary coffee can: The week in #PHL15

Every Friday from now until the primary (that’s May 19!) we’ll take a look at the past week to update you on who’s up, who’s down and what you absolutely need to know about the election.

It’s mayor time, you guys. Can you feel the excitement?!

Nominating petitions were due this week, we learned all about the candidates’ personal lives and how they make money, and apparently Philly uses a coffee can to select ballot positions.

(Want up-to-the-minute updates on the mayor’s race as it evolves? Follow our story, and we’ll send you an email when news happens.)

Here’s the week’s mayoral race news:

Stock Watch

Lynne Abraham 
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Lynne Abraham drew the most attention this week for her bold and kinda confusing stunt of asking her fellow candidates to reject dark money, AKA campaign contributions from anonymous donors with special interests. She asked the other candidates to make a donation to the school district that’s equal to any money donated by special interest groups. The other candidates were like: um, no. But Abraham filed her petitions on Tuesday without incident, and will probably be on the ballot in May. Stock goes up.

Nelson Diaz 
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Diaz has been marked by his passion and his ability to command a room so far this campaign season, but not so much his policy. That changed this week when he released several policy positions, including plans to end the pretty much universally hated police tactic of stop-and-frisk and establish and “Ethics Czar” that would watch over city government. He also proposed a new form of inclusionary zoning that would require new city building projects must dedicate 20 percent to housing for low-income residents.

Jim Kenney 
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Jim Kenney filed his petitions without incident, had an event at Woody’s bar in Center City and took plenty of shots at Lynne Abraham. In addition, Kenney notched the first TV ad of the campaign season after a Super PAC tied to labor groups and union boss Johnny Doc purchased a commercial supporting Kenney. 

Doug Oliver 
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Dougie O. attended a fundraiser Thursday with YB Connected to support the city’s Philabundance nonprofit. He also turned in all his nomination forms on time and will, barring any major development, be on the ballot in May.

Milton Street 
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My gosh, Milton Street is having some struggles. When he went to turn in his petitions, he didn’t have all the forms he needed.

So he ran somewhere and then came back and had everything he needed on petition signature deadline day. Yay Milton! But then… we found out that he’s a registered independent, which could cause some problems for him. Damnit. More on that later. But Milton Street breaks even his week because he *finally* formally announced his candidacy. 

Anthony Williams 
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Tony Williams won the petition signature ego contest by securing 15,000, so go Team Tony. He also got a boost from the fact that Milton Street miiiiight not be on the Democratic primary ballot. More on that later. 

Biggest news

Tuesday was the deadline for candidates to turn in their nomination petitions. So whose is biggest? Er, who got the most? Candidates need 1,000 signatures of support in order to appear on the ballot in May, and it’s recommended that candidates get some extra in case someone challenges the authenticity of their signatures. But of course, everyone has to one-up each other and show that they had more people standing outside begging people in the cold for their John Hancock’s. Tony Williams’ crew got 15,000 signatures, Jim Kenney got 10,000 and Nelson Diaz got 5,000. Seems a little excessive, you guys. 

Best tweet

That time Lynne Abraham and Jim Kenney’s respective campaigns argued with each other… on Twitter. Abraham’s campaign took a shot at Kenney’s for accepting dark money, and then Kenney’s spokeswoman was like LOL Lynne Abraham has a massive pension so.  

Who messed up

Pro tip for Milton Street: If you want to run for mayor in the Democratic primary, it might be helpful to be a registered Democrat. The Inquirer‘s Chris Brennan revealed this week that Street is actually an independent, which could change how the primary goes down. If Street can’t run in the Democratic primary, it will be a huge help for Tony Williams, as Street’s largest voter base was low-income African Americans. Williams will get a boost from those voters if Street isn’t on the ballot.

What people are pissed about

Anthony Williams takes being “in bed” with a special interest group to a whole new level. Ryan Briggs with The Next Mayor project over at Philly.com wrote today about Williams’ wife, a higher-up at the Marcellus Shale coalition that fights for fracking rights in Pennsylvania. ICYMI, Williams is a Democrat. Dems don’t play well with fracking.

Williams’ wife said she hadn’t discussed adding a severance tax to the natural gas industry like Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed. His spokesman said Williams supports Philadelphia’s growth as an energy hub, saying: “Do he and his wife discuss the issue? Of course, but his support for the hub is entirely his own, largely because of estimates that suggest that 63 percent of all jobs created in the energy space will be blue collar, requiring a high school diploma and some training.”

Show me the money

The Inquirer asked all the Democratic primary mayoral candidates for their personal tax returns from 2011, 2012 and 2013 to get a glimpse at each candidate’s personal finances. All but Lynne Abraham handed all of them over — Abraham only released her 2013 return, saying it was representative of all the years the Inky requested. What we learned? Williams’ household makes money from fracking, Diaz’ childhood financial struggles are long-gone and Abraham’s pension(s) are NICE.

Best insult

Kenney was pretty pissed off that Lynne Abraham didn’t turn over all three years’ worth of tax returns to the Inquirer. He released this statement: “Voters have a right to know what Lynne Abraham is hiding in her tax returns. We cannot afford a mayor who holds herself or her politically connected friends to a different standard of accountability than the rest of Philadelphia. As District Attorney, Abraham also routinely refused to prosecute political corruption.  Our next mayor must uphold the ethical advances established by Mayor Nutter over the last seven years. Ms. Abraham’s record and her refusal to come clean on her taxes demonstrates her willingness to take us backwards.”

Quoteable

“We got new kinds of balls for this year. They are easier to see and they are a little bigger than the balls they used in 2011.”

That’s what City Councilman Bill Greenlee said regarding the city’s weird coffee can way of selecting ballot positions. Read all about it over at Newsworks.

Cool story

Shameless self-promotion: Billy Penn ran for mayor. Well, kinda. My colleague Shannon McDonald goes in-depth in this piece to show you that it is quite complicated to run for public office in Philadelphia. You have to get signatures, form a committee and fill out ALL of the forms.

After we figured out the process, we wanted to see how hard it was to get petition signatures. Each mayoral candidate needs 1,000 to appear on the ballot, and, well, it was extremely hard. Read what we learned (and what the candidates learned) here. 

ICYMI

It’s starting to look like there could actually be some competition in the General Election in November. It’s looking like Sam Katz could make a run as an independent this fall, and this week he launched a website and released a full education policy plan. In addition to Katz, now-former SRC Chair Bill Green is now a registered independent and could make a run as well. 

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