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.

It’s just over six weeks until the primary, and political ads are hitting the airwaves, Super PACs are getting involved and the candidates are getting kinda crazy at the gazillion mayoral forums they’re taking part in. Let’s take a look at what happened this week.

(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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In addition to getting a new website this week (that looks shockingly like her competitors’), Abraham’s biggest accomplishment this week was releasing an education policy paper that details how she’ll tackle schooling kids in the city if elected mayor. Not only does it call for a full and fair funding formula as well as equitable reorganization, it also promises a lawsuit against Harrisburg if lawmakers don’t better fund Philly schools. However! Errbody’s now paying attention to Abraham’s long and colorful record as district attorney, because that’s what will be attacked in all those ads — not to mention her lack of cash as compared to Kenney and Williams, both of whom are going to get mad airtime through PACs or special interests.

Nelson Diaz
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Diaz spent much of the week touting his plans for affordable housing, backed up by the significant time he spent with HUD throughout his career. Tony Williams also threw some shade at Diaz (more on that later), and the candidate also got in a bit of hot water for soliciting campaign donations from city employees via their government email addresses. That’s a no-no.

Jim Kenney
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It’s gotten to that point in the campaign where everyone starts digging up each others’ pasts. It happened three times to Kenney this week — once with regard to his stance on vouchers, once about his late 90s comments on policing and once about his ethics policy. Kenney did however release an education policy plan this week, detailing how he hopes to end the budget crisis. Major tenets of the plan include universal Pre-K, selling commercial tax liens to bring in cash and asking large city nonprofits (think universities) to contribute to the funding crisis.

Doug Oliver
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No one can ever accuse Doug Oliver of not working hard. The man has been all over Philadelphia this week, working subway stations and restaurants every morning and attending events at night. But his most successful event of the week? Talking to students at Central High. Daily News writer William Bender was at the event and reported that the kids loved Dougie O. and were literally begging him not to leave. Making an impression on teenagers who will one day be voters will bode well for the 40-year-old who could successfully run again for public office if the mayoral race doesn’t end up in his favor.

Milton Street
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Man, I don’t even know what’s happening with this guy anymore. He *still* might not be on the ballot in May because of his messed up residency situation, and he also got pretty zany during a mayoral forum this week. We may have reached peak Milton Street when Billy Penn editor Chris Krewson brought up a Philly.com column that basically called Street out as a liar. Street started yelling, accused Krewson of not doing his homework and then claimed there was some sort of response that we have yet to see. Oh, Milton.

Anthony Williams
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Lynne Abraham may claim to be the frontrunner, but some say Anthony Williams is the favorite — not in small part due to the fact that he probably has the most money and special-interest backing. We found out this week that the American Cities SuperPAC is backing Williams and will dump close to a million bucks into TV ads for Williams’ campaign. That’s significant, because TV ads still reign supreme in mobilizing voters.

Biggest news

The six Democratic mayoral candidates met for a punchy mayoral forum on Monday that was hosted by Al Dia News Media, and some of them got a little testy by the second half. Between Lynne Abraham talking about Uber, Tony Williams saying he’s “down with millennials” and Milton Street totally losing his mind, it was an eventful evening. Here’s a recap.

Best tweet

Can’t we all just get along?

Proud to get this endorsement. Though I’ll never root for same team as @GovChristie, I unblocked him on twitter. #JK pic.twitter.com/epp3pIL8TG

— Jim Kenney (@JimFKenney) April 1, 2015

Who messed up

If we’re counting screw-ups from the late 90s, Jim Kenney sure said some things that don’t sound so good nowadays. The former councilman said this week that it was “embarrassing” to hear again comments that he once made with regard to police infringing on the civil liberties of citizens.

“Civil liberties? We’re not protecting the rights of people who are working and paying their taxes and raising their children properly. They can’t go out of their houses after sundown. How crazy is that?” he asked.

Kenney has now characterized those thoughts as “incorrect.” Ryan Briggs at The Next Mayor has the full story.

Best insult

Tony Williams apparently thinks some of his opponents are stealing his ideas and passing them off as their own. According to Newsworks, Williams threw some shade at Nelson Diaz on Wednesday during a mayoral forum on gentrification and development. He accused his opponent of stealing his idea of a city-operated bank that offers loans to homeowners.

“If I hear about it talked about again as a policy introduced by somebody else I will pull my hair out,” Williams said. Don’t do that, Tony. 

What people are pissed about

Your TV is about to become a fighting ground, get excited. Seriously though, it’s probably time to binge-watch that show you’ve been thinking about watching on Netflix for awhile because the political ads on local news stations are about to get crazy.

The Inquirer‘s Chris Hepp reported this week that the negative political ads are about to surge with less than seven weeks left until the primary election. And experts tell Hepp that any polling done before now is irrelevant — it’s TV that still makes all the difference in the eyes of voters.

Show me the money

Ready to meet the three guys who could swing the Philadelphia election in the favor of Anthony Williams? They’re principals at a Bala Cynwyd firm called Susquehanna Group International, and have already begun a TV ad blitz for the candidate that cost in the neighborhood of half a million dollars. Newsworks has the story.

Cool story

The Next Mayor writers William Bender and Ryan Briggs dug up a good nugget of information from Anthony Williams’ past — he once voted in favor of stand-your-ground laws, the Florida statute that made it not totally illegal for George Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin. Williams said he wouldn’t vote for the law today if given the chance. More here.


“I whipped him real good.”

Those words were said by a one T. Milton Street at a mayoral forum Monday put on by Al Dia News Media with regard to the “scrapyard” lawyer that was sent in to oppose him in court. Street survived the court appearance which was challenging his residency and party registration.


We here at Billy Penn are some big emoji fans. So our kickass designer Jayna Wallace made emoji illustrations of each of the mayoral candidates, and each of them held theirs for a photo (save for Jim Kenney who peaced out of a mayoral event ASAP).

mayors with emojis

And for fun, Mayor Nutter also had his:

You guys the mayor of Philadelphia signed his emoji for us. http://t.co/p73uZOIMqo pic.twitter.com/4plUGpGdTI

— Chris Krewson (@ckrewson) April 1, 2015

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