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.
This race is finally starting to heat up. Between a bunch of endorsements, an education debate, an internal poll and ads hitting the airwaves, the candidates for Philadelphia mayor have had a busy week. Let’s break it down.
(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.)
There’s nothing like winning an internal poll to make a person feel good. Lynne Abraham’s campaign released such a poll this week that showed Abraham holds a commanding lead. The poll showed the former district attorney with 30 percent of the vote, while Jim Kenney and Anthony Williams both held 14 percent. According to her campaign, the poll was taken in mid-March and polled 500 registered voters. Expert Larry Ceisler told the Inquirer that this seems like a concerted effort by Abraham to get her name in the news while Kenney and Williams have both been gaining momentum. She also told Philly Mag that she’s just “going to charge and surge.” However, Abraham was dealt a blow this week when the Philadelphia National Organization for Women chose to endorse Jim Kenney — despite Abraham being one of the most high-profile female politicians in Philly in decades.
Judge Nelson Diaz garnered an endorsement from a national Latino political group run by Eva Longoria this week, so that’s a thing. He also got a full Stu Bykofsky column written about him in the Philly Daily News, and he was described as “the kid from Harlem who wants to be mayor.” Aw. In addition, Diaz’ thoughts on education stuck out as probably the most progressive during an education forum this week — he’s the only candidate who unequivocally thinks the SRC should be dismantled ASAP. Whether his education plans would ever fly in Harrisburg is another issue entirely.
Former councilman Jim Kenney continues to rake in the endorsements, and The Inquirer reported this week that a super PAC has funded another ad spot for Kenney, portraying him as a classic Philly guy with blue-collar roots. In addition, Philly Mag‘s Liz Spikol wrote a long profile of Kenney, begging the question of whether or not this man truly represents “new Philadelphia.” He also released an ethics policy paper that outlined ways he would work to clean up City Hall, including further funding the Board of Ethics and developing a better open records policy.
Former PGW executive Doug Oliver released a comprehensive policy paper this week on technology which included creating a $1 million annual innovation fund to support small startups. In addition, he got our attention this week for expertly trolling Lynne Abraham‘s internal polling data. More on that later. He also gets points for showing up to Billy Penn‘s event on Thursday, “How to get — and keep — tech talent in Philly.”
T. Milton Street is still on the ballot, people! Somehow. The guy was challenged on both his residency AND his party registration and survived both after a judge ruled he could register as a Democrat and is a resident of Philadelphia.
State Sen. Anthony Williams this week became the first candidate to finance his own ad blitz. The only other ad out there was for Kenney, but it was purchased by a PAC. The new ad — which, according to the Inquirer, appears to target African American voters — portrays Williams as a family man who followed in his father’s footsteps in order to break down racial barriers in politics. It then goes on to highlight his voting record in the Senate to fund Philly schools and cut down on violence.
In addition, Williams this week has finally started to own his favoring of school choice and charter schools, as pointed out by Philly Mag.
Data from Pew shows that education is the issue of the mayoral race, and this week was the first forum where candidates were able to discuss solely education. Five mayoral hopefuls showed up for the debate — Lynne Abraham cited a scheduling conflict and wasn’t present. But some of the most significant conversation came with regard to Anthony Williams talking about the public vs. charter school debate, saying he’s “exhausted” by it. The Inquirer’s Kristen Graham has a wrap-up of the event.
That time Jim Kenney called someone a grump for suggesting he only advocates for union interests:
— Jim Kenney (@JimFKenney) March 26, 2015
Who messed up
Not just one, but *five* people who donated to Anthony Williams broke campaign finance rules by donating too much money to the state Senator’s campaign. The Inquirer‘s Claudia Vargas reported this week that Williams has accepted $20,450 in excessive gifts. The complicated nature of the difference between the state and the city’s campaign finance rules could be at the heart of the mix-up. It’s still unclear whether Williams will have to pay back the excessive gifts. His opponents have already jumped on it, and Jim Kenney this week called for Williams to return the cash.
What people are pissed about
Would electing Jim Kenney take us back to an era of cronyism? So says now-former SRC chair Bill Green, who kinda attacked Kenney in an interview with Philly Mag. Even though Kenney has the backing of many progressive groups in Philly, Green seems to think he’s just an old-school politician looking to do favors for those who support him. Said Green about Kenney: “Part of the past. Part of a system that would take us back to an era of cronyism, white collar patronage and favoritism that we haven’t had to experience for the last eight years.” If you’re a Kenney fan, you’re probably pissed at Green. If you’re not, you’re probably pissed at Kenney.
Show me the money
Wanna meet Anthony Williams’ millionaire pals from the Main Lane who are supporting his campaign? The Daily News‘ Will Bunch breaks down the donors — Joel Greenberg, Jeff Yass and Arthur Dantchik — who are “upping the ante” in the race to run Philadelphia City Hall.
I don’t even know if this can be considered an insult, but Doug Oliver has won the award for troll job of the campaign. Lynne Abraham released a poll Thursday morning showing that she holds a commanding lead in the race and is ahead of both Kenney and Williams by a solid 15 points. In response, Oliver released a poll of his own — a fake one. In it, he wrote that he was up in the polls with 60 percent of the vote after polling his friends, family, church and school. Props where props are due, Dougie O. Read more about it here.
“Come on, people! Wake up and smell the veggie burgers!”
Those words were uttered by T. Milton Street when he was in a back-and-forth with Jim Kenney over school funding. Read the whole argument over at The Inquirer.
We published the weirdest photos of each mayoral candidate that we could find. Check out Jim Kenney dressed as an elf, frat bro Doug Oliver and dancing Tony Williams.