Why Kenyatta Johnson probably won’t be debating Ori Feibush 10 times

Kenyatta Ori PB (1)

Ori Feibush wants to challenge Kenyatta Johnson in a public forum, badly.

As you can see, he wants to discuss the 2nd District with the guy who’s been in charge of governing it the last four years, and he wants both candidates to not bring any notes. But it’s going to be difficult: Johnson is the incumbent and perceived front-runner. To put it bluntly, he’s got no incentive to take Feibuish up on this offer. And, at least in the eyes of Johnson’s campaign, there hasn’t been a real offer. Mark Nevins, Johnson’s campaign spokesperson, said no one from Johnson’s political team received any type of formal invitation or challenge about the 10 debates.  

“It feels a little bit like it was more for show,” Nevins said. “I think he wanted the publicity out of it before you actually issue the challenge.”

Nevins said Johnson had agreed to a debate sponsored by the Center City Residents Association. 

Frankly, anything more than one debate would be unusual. With several district races considered wide open in 2011, the Committee of Seventy sponsored a single debate for six districts, including the 2nd. Longtime Councilwoman Anna Verna had given up her spot, and Johnson engaged in a debate with Barbara Capozzi, Tracey Gordon and Damon Roberts. 

Now with Feibush as a challenger, it is in Johnson’s interest to acknowledge him as little as possible. Take Johnson’s Point Breeze rally in January that served to kickoff his campaign for example. Though Mayor Michael Nutter and other politicians indirectly referenced Feibush there, nobody, including Johnson, actually called Feibush by name.

As Feibush pines for the opportunity to debate — at least on social media — Johnson continues to play up his top moments from the last four years. This morning he’s been using #1stTermRecap to remind everyone of what he’s done as a Councilman.

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