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.
Everyone spent the week attending (roughly) 97 mayoral forums, talking about how a grandmother-aged woman passed out during a debate and analyzing why many of the city’s black political leaders endorsed notably not-black Jim Kenney. Five weeks ’til the primary! It was a weird one, folks. Let’s get into the recap.
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Even though Lynne Abraham is pretty mad that we keep talking about that time she fainted on live television, the collapse heard ’round the city likely sent Abraham’s stock plunging this week. Look, personal health is important and Abraham said she passed out on stage due to dehydration and failing to eat — something that could have happened to any of the candidates.
But it didn’t happen to any of the other candidates. It happened to Abraham, who came into the campaign (with a string band!) calling herself “one tough cookie” and then attempted throughout her entire campaign to fend off concerns that she’s too old to be mayor. She was losing ground to Jim Kenney and Tony Williams, who are both quickly raising money, and recently released an internal poll that showed her in the lead … probably to drum up donors, which has been another of her problems.
And Tuesday night was supposed to be her night. She needed that first televised debate to go well arguably more than any other candidate. Instead of showing that she’s “one tough cookie,” 10 minutes after the lights went up, Abraham went down. Only time will tell if her getting back up (and dancing to 50 Cent) will be enough to save her campaign.
Nelson Diaz had an average week, starting with his performance during Tuesday’s mayoral debate in which he heavily relied on his personal background growing up in Harlem. Seems like a good way to relate to voters. Diaz has also leaned on his experience working in the realm of affordable housing to boost his development plans, which he laid out Wednesday during a BUILDPhilly mayoral forum.
Could Jim Kenney, the white Irish Catholic Mummer, be the new voice of black Philadelphia? I have no idea, but the question was asked after Kenney grabbed a huge endorsement from Rep. Dwight Evans and a powerful group of African American leaders known as the Northwest Coalition. The endorsement matters because some of these leaders — including Councilwoman Marian Tasco — have a reputation of being able to round up voters for people they support. We’re assuming Tony Williams is fuming over it.
Rough week for Dougie O. For the better part of the week people were arguing back and forth about a comment he made at a mayoral forum last week. When answering a question about race and the police’s relationship with the community, Oliver said that black men have reason to fear police. And then he followed that up by saying, “The sad truth is that the police have good reason to be afraid of black men.”
Solomon Jones slammed Oliver for the comment on WURD and others speculated he’d put a serious dent in his campaign. But Daily News columnist Helen Ubiñas came to Oliver’s defense, saying, “Oliver’s remarks showed that he was trying to broadly address a flat-out national crisis, and he shouldn’t be minimized as a candidate just for that observation.”
Oliver also had to apologize for a staff member who made disparaging comments about Lynne Abraham. More on that later.
So guess who’s ballot position is still not secured? This guy! You probably remember that Street’s been challenged on both his residency (he maybe lives in Jersey) and his party registration (he might not be a registered Democrat). Street is being challenged once again on the same grounds, this time by a member of a union that’s endorsed Tony Williams. Newsworks has the deets.
Williams major campaign finance violations made all the wrong headlines this week, and the candidate’s still being questioned on money he transferred from his senatorial campaign account into his mayoral one. More on that later. He also loses stock because he *didn’t* get the endorsement of the powerful Northwest Coalition, even though he’s the only black frontrunner. That instead went to Jim “I’m a Mummer” Kenney.
Let’s be honest, Lynne Abraham’s collapse on stage during the first televised mayoral debate was undoubtedly the biggest news of the week and garnered national attention from The Washington Post to the Daily Mail.
Who messed up
If the faint hadn’t happened, much more attention might have been paid to Tony Williams’ major campaign finance violations that caused him to have to pay $8,000 in fines, give up more than $17,000 in illegal campaign contributions and freeze almost $63,000 in his campaign’s account.
The city’s Board of Ethics found that Williams accepted the 17K that was in excess of the city’s campaign contribution limits. But still at question is to what Williams has to do with the almost $63,000 he raised before he’d officially announced his candidacy for mayor. PhillyMag has the details.
Candidate Jim Kenney has been winning this honor a lot recently (not that I can say I’m surprised). But this kinda contextless tweet made us laugh:
Fallon, you cray. Madonna, you still my hero! Always!
— Jim Kenney (@JimFKenney) April 10, 2015
We’re going to go ahead and assume he was referring to this awesome video, in which Jimmy Fallon, Madonna and The Roots perform “Holiday” using exclusively children’s instruments:
Insult of the week
One of Doug Oliver’s top staffers found himself in hot water today after admitting to throwing some serious shade at Lynne Abraham in the way of a tweet he authored for Bellevue Media Group. The Daily News reported that Oliver’s spokesman Mustafa Rashed authored a tweet that insinuated Abraham’s fainting incident was a PR stunt. When reached by a reporter about it, he apparently responded, “New tagline: ‘Nobody’s Mayor But Floors.’ Too soon?” Oliver has since apologized for the, er, lapse in judgement and said he rejects the “mean-spirited comments.” The original tweet has since been deleted and Bellevue apologized in a follow-up.
What people are pissed about
Tony Williams got pretty pissed at Philly.com this week after the website published an investigation that looked at a charter school-related tax program Williams created that directly benefitted his political donors. Williams fired back this week saying the story was written by a “blogger or string-along person” and insinuated it wasn’t authored by an actual reporter. (FWIW, the story was written by Ryan Briggs and Alex Wigglesworth.) In an interview on 900-AM WURD, Williams said: “For [Philly.com] to say that person, Dawn Chavous, is doing something in a connected, conspiratorial way … instead of doing it for children or for the betterment of what they believe is important, is wrong also,” he said. “It has nothing to do with ‘insider activity’ and everything to do with the belief that all children matter.”
I couldn’t find an exceptionally cool story this week, but here’s a video of some candidates half-assing a dance requirement at one of this week’s 97 mayoral forums:
— Amy Chen (@SLAachen) April 8, 2015
“You cannot run around this school, shake hands with students, take pictures, read to second graders, talk to middle schoolers, inspire high school students, and then when you’re back at your office comfortably not put forward the money that they need to educate their students. Let’s cut the phoniness. Let’s be serious about educating kids.”
Those words were said by your current Mayor Michael Nutter who was not-so-subtley throwing shade at the people who are trying to succeed him, calling their education plans “bogus.”
Newsworks pointed out an interesting tidbit this week. All six of the Democratic mayoral candidates say they want to end stop-and-frisk procedures as they unfairly target and profile minorities. But they all also say they’d keep Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey around if he wants to stay, and Ramsey has backed stop-and-frisk as an appropriate police tactic. Experts say that if any of these candidates are serious about ending stop-and-frisk, Ramsey won’t be sticking around.