Dark millions, 50 forums (really) and Jim Kenney’s waiting game: Big numbers and moments in #PHL2015

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The run-up to this Philadelphia mayoral election went by in a flash. Seems like it was just yesterday when Lynne Abraham announced she was running for mayor (for the third time), and a guy who didn’t actually end up running declared for mayor at a strip club. As voters go to the polls today, Billy Penn looks back at some of the most important data, events and stories from the race.

The year of the forum

So. Many. Forums. How many? Probably about 50. It’s tough to find the exact number but a good estimate can be gleaned from a Billy Penn story on mayor’s schedules from mid-April. During the two weeks we collected information, a total of 18 forums/debates were scheduled. For the busy month of April, that would mean somewhere around 30 or more forums. About 10 each in March and May seems appropriate given the race hadn’t quite kicked up in March and the race was winding down in May. That number doesn’t include meet and greets or other social functions of which there were many more.

The first forum of this election came February 19 and was hosted by the Business Association of West Parkside. Groups as varied as media outlets, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the United Muslim Business Association all held forums.

Money

Spending by candidates in this year’s mayoral race didn’t come close to equaling the 2007 mayoral race — unless the candidates really made it rain in the last two weeks. As of May 8, here’s how the candidates for this year looked when it came to expenditures.

 

In 2007, the six main mayoral candidates spent a total of $24 million. These candidates spent just under $3.5 million.

PACs dominate spending

Special interest groups ramped it up, though, particularly for Williams. The American Cities PAC, which supports him and includes the principles of Susquehanna Group International, has spent $5.4 million on the race. Two major PACs supporting Kenney, Building a Better PA Fund and Forward Philadelphia, have spent just over $2.1 million. Those PACs combined to spend more than twice as much as all six of the candidates.

Who was in and who was out?

Several more than six candidates originally declared to run for the Democratic nomination. Former director of federal affairs Terry Gillen, former city solicitor Ken Trujillo and Keith Goodman were all one-time candidates. Goodman, who might’ve had residency issues, said he couldn’t run and decided to focus on his ministry. Trujillo dropped out for family reasons. Gillen withdrew because she questioned whether she’d be able to raise the necessary funds.

This the order in which the candidates officially entered the race

  • Terry Gillen: September 6
  • Ken Trujillo: September 17
  • Lynne Abraham: November 19
  • Tony Williams: November 19
  • Nelson Diaz: January 15
  • Jim Kenney: February 4
  • Doug Oliver: February 7
  • Keith Goodman: February 15
  • Milton Street: Never really had a formal announcement.
  • Juan Rodriguez: Didn’t really run but did say he planned to run at a night club with stripper poles (not a strip club, according to his campaign treasurer).

Darrell Clarke changed the game, and Kenney’s waiting strategy worked

Clarke, the City Council President, was considered the front-runner if he decided to run for mayor. At the Pennsylvania Society last December, he held a fundraiser. Clarke had $609,000 in cash at hand at the end of 2014, more than any of the candidates who ran for mayor. But he didn’t run. In January, Clarke announced he would run for re-election as a Councilman (he’s not being challenged). As Council President, he’ll likely have as much if not more power than the next mayor.

After Clarke’s decision to not run, Kenney entered the race. Not only did he not have to worry about defeating his colleague from Council, he picked up several staff members from Trujillo’s campaign. The lone independent poll from this race showed Kenney in the lead by a country mile. He covered all the ground he needed to cover in a short time.

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Nelson Diaz