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Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.

Happy Friday, Philly, and welcome to Billy Penn’s first edition of our mayoral election weekly update. 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.

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.

This week was an eventful one as the candidates filed their first financial disclosures and longtime councilman Jim Kenney officially launched his mayoral campaign. Let’s get into it:

Stock Watch

Lynne Abraham: 

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Abraham draws even this week. Her new-found stance on pot decriminalization (we’ll get to that later) will certainly go over well in the city. But Patrick Kerkstra over at Philly Mag did the work and found that, if elected, Abraham would be the oldest big city mayor in recent U.S. history. She says we’re all just being ageist.

Nelson Diaz: 

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Diaz announced this week that he was donating $250,000 (and Exelon Corp. where he was on the board added $450K) to endow a Latino Civil Rights chair at Temple University. Maybe this was convenient political timing, but Al Dia managing editor Sabrina Vourvoulias opined that the gift went beyond politics and is an important step for the Latino community in Philadelphia.

Jim Kenney: 

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It was a good week for Jim Kenney. The now-former city councilman *finally* made it official that he’s running for mayor, scored a coupla early endorsements, got on the good side of stoners and, oh yeah, secured a $91,000-a-year pension.

Doug Oliver: 

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Oliver has raised close to nothing. But Wendy Ruderman at the Daily News reports he might have bigger problems: He hasn’t officially announced his candidacy yet, but his name is tied to a campaign website. That could be a state violation. Ruh-roh. However, he’s about to announce his candidacy on Saturday, which should give him some lift and help him weather a filing snafu.

Milton Street: 

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Street has apparently raised zero dollars. This is a problem. But don’t worry, he says he has $800K worth of name recognition.

Anthony Williams: 

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Anthony Williams is raking in the union endorsements, with news coming in this morning that SEPTA’s Transport Workers Union Local 234 will be backing the state Senator. Philly Mag reports Williams has also gained endorsements from the carpenters union and the Teamsters. We also discovered that he used to rock a ‘fro. Important.

Biggest news

YouTube video

Money! Candidates’ first financial disclosures were due Monday and here’s what we could glean from them: The amount of money these candidates have raised is pretty low compared to the cash flowing into mayoral elections of the past. Still, Williams leads the pack in funds raised as of Dec. 31, reporting he pulled in upwards of $425,000 in 2014. Lynne Abraham raised almost $200K, Nelson Diaz and Jim Kenney raised around $80K each and Doug Oliver reported raising $1,470. Milton Street hasn’t raised any money. Check out this story for more on the campaign cash.

Who messed up

Both Doug Oliver and Milton Street apparently suck at deadlines and failed to turn in their financial disclosures on time by Monday. Milton Street’s campaign said yolo, we haven’t raised any money anyway! Oliver’s campaign was like, oh dang, I think we’ll get on that.

Best tweet

Hey Milton we’re getting ready for you. Come at me bro @bcgp @schuylkillsarah #bettermobilityphiladelphia #PHL2015 pic.twitter.com/BoZ2OvPw1K

— DO2015 (@DO2015PHL) February 5, 2015

Best insult

It didn’t take long for Jim Kenney’s campaign to jump on a comment made by contender Lynne Abraham. When it comes to pot decriminalization, Kenney — who championed the legislation here in Philly — certainly has the edge. Abraham told the Inquirer this week that she supported decriminalization, but Kenney’s campaign was like UM WUT and pointed to a Philly Mag Q&A posted last month in which Abraham basically said pot is evil.

What gives, Lynne? She says she changed her mind. Well. OK then.

Stunt of the week

Uber <3’s Jim Kenney. The ridesharing company handed out free pretzels in Philly this week in order to thank City Council and Kenney for supporting them. Council recently urged state lawmakers to take over control of ridesharing in Philly because the PPA hates technology/ change.

uber pretzel


“We don’t have a phone.”

Those words were uttered to local reporters by Queena Bass, the perennially failing mayoral write-in candidate who waltzed into the Daily News offices this week to declare that she is, again, waging a campaign for mayor. When a reporter told her they were busy but would call her back, she said that would be a, uh, problem.

Cool story

Sorry we’re highlighting our own work here (we won’t always!) but my awesome colleague Mark Dent pulled together this helluva post that includes the mayoral candidates’ high school yearbook photos, anecdotes from their time as teens and information about what was going on in the world when they graduated. Don’t miss it, bc GIFs of teens turning into politicians.


What people are pissed about

The word “PAC” has such a negative connotation, doesn’t it? Opponents of education reform which, let’s be honest no one can agree on, are annoyed that PAC’s in favor of charter schools are entering into the political fray. Ryan Briggs at The Next Mayor reports an ed-reform PAC called Believe Again has supported Anthony Williams, and it has an unusual new chairperson: Williams’ former chief counsel.


There is a Philadelphia GOP, too! Who knew? Anyway, the Republicans are looking for a contender in the upcoming primary. Chris Brennan over at the Inquirer reports they asked Ron Castille to run. Remember him? He’s the now-former Supreme Court justice who resigned just over a month ago because he reached the mandatory retirement age. Castille also has experience here — the former Philly DA ran in 1991, losing in the primary to incumbent Mayor Frank Rizzo (who died eight weeks later and Ed Rendell went on to win the general election).

Castille reportedly told the GOP “no thanks.”

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.