What better way to liven up the thus far underwhelming Philly mayoral race than by comparing it to one of the most quoted cable television programs of all time?*
Lynne Abraham announced her candidacy 42 times, Doug Oliver announced his announcement 12 times and Jim Kenney has managed to not actually declare his candidacy about 306 times. And of course there are the old standbys, Tony Williams and Milton Street; they’re no strangers to Pennsylvania ballots.
So assuming everyone knows we’re not actually saying your next mayor is either a drug dealer, an addict, a corrupt politician or a morally questionable cop, let’s go ahead and compare Philly’s mayoral candidates to each other as if they were characters on The Wire.
Anthony Hardy Williams
Let’s start with the obvious. Anthony Hardy Williams is totally the Clay Davis of the Philly cast. Both senators-turned-mayoral candidates/drivers know how to play the game… maybe a little too well for their own good. That “war chest” everyone’s talking about? Sheeee-it, that’s a page right out of the Clay Davis book. Hardy Williams used donations from his senatorial campaign to “explore” his mayoral candidacy. Sketchy? Yep. Legal? Yep.
Doug Oliver left his job as a PGW exec to run, but he’s no stranger to the mayor’s office. Oliver was once a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter. That’s right, Oliver was Stringer Bell to Nutter’s Avon Barksdale. Oliver knows how to be the face and voice of a major operation, just like Bell was as second-in-command of Barksdale’s drug ring. Question is, will Oliver be able to strike out on his own? He’ll need to channel Bell’s patience and creativity to work with Council.
Where to begin with Milton Street? Always a candidate, never a mayor (but briefly a state senator). Why? Milton has a lot in common with Bubbles. Street understands the city’s problems, but he’s just not going to be the one to fix them. Like Bubs, Milton can be easy to sympathize with. The man’s a champion for ignored Philadelphians; can’t we just let him be mayor, already? But in the end he’s his own worst enemy. It’s also not lost on us that both men have earned a living selling things off a cart.
Lynn Abraham is one tough cookie. How many times have you heard that over the past couple months? The former Philly district attorney has a lot in common with Stan Valchek, who worked his way up on the show to become (spoiler alert!) Baltimore’s police commissioner. Abraham and Valchek have more in common than age and thick regional accents. Both are tough on crime and laser-focused; Valcheck wanted to take down union leader Frank Sobotka and Abraham recently told Philly Mag, “I don’t like to spend my time on things that I don’t do effectively.”
Watch this video of Valchek here
Though Diaz has been relatively quiet so far (dude doesn’t even have a website yet), we can only assume that the former Philly Common Pleas Court judge and Dilworth Paxon partner won’t hold back once he gets started. If Judge Daniel Phelan can give his buddy McNulty a hard time, and Diaz had no problem giving us a heads up about the Temple University Board of Trustees meeting at which fellow member Billy Cosby would resign, then there’s got to be some excitement ahead, right? At least maybe an interesting encounter with Philly Jesus…?
What would a nod to The Wire be without a McNulty reference? Thank you, Jim Kenney, for pretty much saying you’re running so we could make this happen. Look beyond the jokes and you’ll see McNulty and Kenney are often paying attention to what no one else is. McNulty was the one who got the Barksdale detail up and running, and Kenney’s been using the last couple years on City Council to push for LGBT equality and pot decriminalization. Both are pretty comfortable in their jobs, for better or for worse. McNulty needs the Baltimore PD the way Kenney, who’s spent two decades on Council, needs City Hall.
*This statement has not been researched in any way.
Update: Clay Davis was never a mayoral candidate. Just a driver behind a lot of the Carcetti/Royce campaign drama.