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

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.

Mayoral candidates have been out and about this week beginning their campaigns to secure petition signatures, as this is the first week they were able to hit the streets. Candidates for citywide office need to garner 1,000 signatures by March 10 to appear on the primary ballot on May 19.

Otherwise, the education conversation dominated the week and our six democratic mayoral candidates met on stage for a forum for the first time of the election season. Let’s get into it.

(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.)

Stock Watch

Lynne Abraham: 

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We feel a little bad for Lynne Abraham this week. Yeah, she didn’t outperform anyone in the city’s first mayoral forum of the season, but she also got a terrible seat on the end. We’re assuming it looked something like this:

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In other Lynne Abraham news from this week, everyone won’t stop talking about her age and whether or not it’s a good or a bad thing. It’s quite the ~*~ mystery. ~*~

Nelson Diaz: 

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It was a quieter week for Nelson Diaz, who has started to solidify himself as one of the most progressive of the bunch and the civil rights crusader. Diaz’ most important question moving forward: Can he rely on the Latino vote? Probably, but it won’t win him the race.

Jim Kenney: 

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Like Diaz, Kenney also had a bit of a quiet week — according to people there, he performed right in the middle of the pack at the mayoral forum while throwing some shade at Lynne Abraham. But there was this interesting tidbit this week from The Inquirer: The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is watching him closely. An endorsement from the PFT will be big for anyone who gets it, and so far, Kenney’s been the loudest in advocating for traditional education and against a $35 million offer from the Philadelphia School Partnership.

Doug Oliver: 

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Doug Oliver’s stock is certainly up this week, with a number of news organization seeming to finally notice him, in addition to the report of another important figure: Ed Rendell. Apparently Philadelphia’s former mayor has taken a liking to Oliver’s style, and could consider endorsing the dark horse candidate. Philly Mag also ran a 3,600-word Q&A with the candidate.

Milton Street: 

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Every week with Milton Street is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get. He keeps surprising us, and even though he hasn’t raised a whole lotta money for his campaign, he apparently knows how to command a room and performed well during the first mayoral forum. More on that later.

Anthony Williams: 

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While Anthony Williams was apparently in friendly territory at the mayoral forum earlier this week (it took place in his home area of West Philly,) he drew more frontrunner fire — especially for his views on charter schools. 

Biggest news

As we mentioned before, the six Democratic mayoral candidates met on stage for the first time this week during a forum hosted by the Business Association of West Parkside. Philly Mag’s Citified put together a nice explanation of how each candidate did, with the interesting tidbit that Milton Street easily commanded the room and showed that he’ll be “a real factor in this race.” Other than that, the overarching theme? ZzzzZZzzzzz. Unimpressed.

Best tweet

Wayne and Garth are excellent.

— Jim Kenney (@JimFKenney) February 16, 2015

Yes, Jim. Yes, they are.

wayne and garth

Who messed up

I thought about putting this in the biggest news of the week, because I can’t think of anything more important or relevant: There is an actual candidate for mayor who may or may not have launched his campaign at a strip club. That’s right, guys.

According to Ryan Briggs with The Next Mayor, a man named Juan Rodriguez announced this week that he’s running for mayor, and there’s some disagreement over whether or not the establishment where this took place was a strip club because pole. When someone was like, “bro why are you doing this at a strip club?” Rodriguez’ campaign treasurer said: “I’m not sure what the pole’s used for, but it’s there. But it’s not used for that. It’s not a strip club.” Alrighty.

Best insult

Jim Kenney and Lynne Abraham traded kinda lame insults about pension reform, according to Citified’s account of what went down. When Abraham was asked about how she would fix the city’s ailing pension system, she responded by basically hating on legislation that was championed by Jim Kenney in 2007 that requires the city send more pension checks to recipients when it has a surplus of funds.

Then, when it was Kenney’s turn, he basically struck back at Abraham and the city’s controversial DROP program for retirees by saying “I guess someone up here will have to explain their DROP payment and how much they get a month in their pension.” The Inquirer reports she’s collected $370K from DROP.


“How’s that working for you?”

That was Doug Oliver’s punchy response to the idea that all of his competitors have experience in the political sector while he doesn’t.

What people are pissed about

While the School Reform Commission’s decision to allow five new charter schools into Philly isn’t directly related to the mayor’s race, there’s some intersection there — and where the candidates stand on the role of charter schools in Philly could, in many ways, determine support from thousands of Philadelphia voters.

And the results of how each candidate feels about charters? All but one — Tony Williams — wanted every charter school application tossed out. But it’s been well-documented that Williams is a vehement charter supporter, and has received campaign contributions from PAC’s associated with them.

Bottom line: The SRC’s decision to approve five new charters instead of zero (or the maximum of seven) has pretty much every side angry.

Cool story

With all the chatter over education, it begs the question: Where did Philly mayoral candidates send their kids? Public, charter or private? Al Dia looked into it, and has the answers here.


How much does it cost to win a mayoral election? About $84 per vote, on average. My colleague Mark Dent took a dive into the number associated with a mayor’s race, from how money is spent to how candidates performed in certain neighborhoods. Check it out. 

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