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.
Welcome to a special ZOMG-the-primary-is-in-four-days edition of The Week in the Mayor’s Race, where we’re going to recap the last 15 weeks of the campaign and review the best tweets, the biggest news and some of the most memorable stunts. Oh, and we’ll of course review the big news of this week: Jim Kenney is in the lead, according to a new poll, and it’s not close. 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.)
For the last 15 weeks, we’ve graded each candidate based on the week they and awarded them either an up, a down, or a neutral. For this final edition of the Stock Watch, we’ve added those up (from zero) to see where each candidate fell.
Lynne Abraham, +3
Lynne Abraham went into this campaign with a lot of potential. She had arguably the best name recognition among the six Democratic candidates and is really the only one who can say she has consistently won city-wide elections in the past. She came out strong, shrugging off concerns that 1. She’s too old and 2. She’s not progressive enough to run the fifth largest city in America.
After some strong polling in the beginning of the race (all internal and conducted by her campaign, mind you), Abraham lost significant ground to Jim Kenney and Anthony Williams, both of whom were able to raise a lot more money, and both of whom had well-funded PACs in their corners. That money clearly came in handy. It didn’t help when Abraham passed out during the candidates’ first debate on live TV. And while the faint didn’t taint Abraham’s entire campaign, it put enough of a damper on it for her to lose momentum.
Nelson Diaz, +8
Diaz’s solid number in the final stock watch shows that he was consistent… but consistently under the radar. Diaz didn’t make any huge mistakes or gaffes like almost all the other candidates did, but he also didn’t stick out in the minds of voters from the very beginning. Maybe it’s his relative lack of experience in terms of being an actual Philadelphia elected official. Or maybe it’s just that he struggled to secure funding compared to his competitors. Either way, Diaz ran a respectable campaign. One that just didn’t have the clout of the others’.
Jim Kenney, +11
This former councilman was the last person to enter the race, and he only entered after Council President Darrell Clarke said he wouldn’t be running. And now Kenney, the Irish Catholic Mummer from South Philadelphia, is poised to win this race. The only independent poll taken so far was released this week, and showed Kenney ran away with this one (more on that later).
Pundits have speculated that it was his personality that’s won over voters. He comes across as relatable, and can connect with everyone from young, hip progressives to powerful African American leaders to blue-collar working families. And it didn’t hurt that he was able to secure huge sums of money from the city’s many unions that have backed him since the beginning.
Doug Oliver, +10
Dougie O. has a higher score than we might have expected here, but that’s probably because other than a few minor hiccups, this guy is really well-liked. Heck, Kenney even said he’d vote for the guy. And if campaigns could be won solely based on effort, we might be in a different place. But a 40-year-old PGW executive with no experience winning an election before had a serious uphill climb, especially against seasoned pols with the name recognition he doesn’t yet have.
But what Oliver has been able to do is set himself up for the future. Maybe he’ll make another run in four years, or maybe eight years. Or maybe he’ll run for a different office. But this race has undoubtedly elevated his clout here in Philly, and he’s been able to connect with younger voters in ways the other candidates could only dream of. That’ll only bode well for him in the future.
Milton Street, -4
This one-time criminal was never going to win this election. Sorry, I said it. It was just never going to happen. He hasn’t won elected office since 1980. Sure, he got 24 percent of the vote in a primary election against Mayor Nutter… But Nutter got the rest of those votes. Street’s a perennially losing candidate who consistently makes inflammatory remarks and has a criminal record to boot. It’s actually remarkable he’s even on the ballot.
Anthony Williams, +5
What’s even more remarkable than Milton Street being on the ballot is that Anthony Williams didn’t have this one in the bag. He of course still has a chance at winning — he’s popular in his home neighborhood of West Philadelphia, and the PACs that supported him funneled millions into his campaign. He was one of the first candidates to confirm that he was running, and was widely seen as the frontrunner for the majority of the race.
After a failed run for governor, this State Senator was supposed to take this. But after public scrutiny over his Main Line billionaire backers, his allegiance with charter school leaders and some polarizing remarks about the head of the police force, Williams lost the momentum he had. And now, it could be too late to get it back.
The biggest, most important news of the week was undoubtedly the releasing of the only independent poll to be sanctioned throughout the entire campaign so far. The Inquirer, Daily News and NBC10 teamed up to poll 600 likely voters (after, ya know, no one else would). The results? Jim Kenney apparently holds a commanding lead, securing 42 percent of the vote while Williams and Abraham lagged behind with just 15 percent. About 14 percent of people were undecided and the other candidates were in the single digits.
When it comes to the entire campaign, one moment stuck out above the rest as creating the most news: Lynne Abraham’s fall. When the 74-year-old candidate was on stage for the first televised mayoral debate of the season, she was starting to lose ground in the campaign and needed to nail it. But when the lights went up, Abraham went down. She was only out for a few seconds, but the faint heard ’round the city made national news from The Washington Post to the Daily Mail.
Who messed up
The biggest screw-up of the campaign? Well at this point, it seems like it was probably Anthony Williams’ ill-conceived decision to throw all of the shade at the city’s most popular unelected official. In the wake of #BlackLivesMatter protests, Williams flip-flopped on an earlier stance and publicly denounced Charles Ramsey, the police commissioner.
Williams said that if he were elected, Ramsey would be out — claiming he would stand in the way of Williams’ efforts to end stop-and-frisk in the city completely (Under current Mayor Nutter, Ramsey enforced the use of stop-and-frisk). Nutter came out and publicly said that — ahem — anyone who would fire Ramsey “is probably not smart enough to lead the city.”
Then, the current state Senator defended his decision, but now it appears fruitless — those polled in the Inquirer/ Daily News/ NBC 10 poll are “overwhelmingly positive” about Ramsey, and the pollster went as far to say that Williams’ “position on Ramsey had backfired.”
Dougie O. won the game. After Lynne Abraham’s campaign released an internal poll in January showing their candidate in the lead, Oliver and his team called bullshit — so they released “an internal poll” of their own, showing him with 60 percent of the vote and a header that reads “Results are not random or representative and likely inaccurate, but still show that Oliver leads the pack by ridiculous amounts in the 2015 Mayor’s race.”
Also in the stunt: The people polled include Doug Oliver’s church, Doug Oliver’s college, Doug Oliver’s fraternity and Doug Oliver’s neighbors. He also is apparently “significantly better liked” than Kenney and Williams because he “offers ice cream to kids and puppies to the puppy-less.”
Show me the money
Almost every time the “Show me the money” section was included in our weekly recaps, it was about someone or something being angry at either Jim Kenney for Anthony Williams for the powerful and rich people who have donated millions to their mayoral campaigns. Kenney’s taken a lot of heat for his union backing and the fact that union boss John Dougherty has opened his wallet and contributed a great deal in dark money to aide Kenney’s campaign.
But it was Williams who took most of the public flak. His backers aren’t groups that include thousands of union members — his main backers are three billionaires who live on the Main Line who are charter school advocates that raised some $6 million for the candidate. These backers? They’ve also supported people like conservative Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican who describes himself as “100 percent pro-life,” opposes abortion even in cases of rape, opposes rights for gay couples including hospital visits and supports local police profiling in order to stop suspected illegal immigrants.
This tweet included a Photoshop, sarcasm, a Chris Christie appearance and a joke about Jim Kenney’s tendency to block people he doesn’t like. What more could we ask for?
Lynne Abraham, on lots of things. She came across as flip-flopping on a number of issues during a sit-down interview with Philly Mag. She talked about how she’s OK with eliminating the death penalty, allowing pot decriminalization and letting women wear pantsuits — all things she was once opposed to.
Do you know how they pick ballot positions for mayoral candidates? All their balls go in a legendary can.
No seriously, they all have little plastic balls that get put into a coffee can and then they pick them out of there. It’s weird, and it’s been around for awhile. Read all about the bizarre tradition over at Newsworks.
This section has turned into just a bunch of weird things Milton Street has said. Relive the magic:
You can’t “stretch a net across the sky, catch meteorites and sell sky rocks.”
– Milton Street, during a debate when he was trying to get across the point that all the candidates’ ideas are far-fetched and overly-optimistic.
“We’ll clean out lots, and get rid of rats, raccoons . . . [and] kangaroos!”
– Milton Street, who wants to hire residents to help clean up their communities and rid the city of litter. Gotta get rid of those kangaroos tho.
“I whipped him real good.”
– 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.
“Come on, people! Wake up and smell the veggie burgers!”
“Signatures on a petition mean nothing more than a person’s ability to be on the ballot.”
– Milton Street, after people rightfully wondered why he signed Jim Kenney’s petition. Apparently it’s nbd.
Sam Katz, the three-time mayoral candidate who considered running as an independent in November, won’t be doing so. But, he did say that if SRC member and son of a former mayor Bill Green runs as an independent in the general election, Katz will support him.