Credit: Jayna Wallace/Billy Penn

💡 Get Philly smart 💡
with BP’s free daily newsletter

Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.

Philadelphia politics can get complicated. What better way to un-complicate things than by explaining the way things work through a children’s game?

That’s why Billy Penn created Philadelphia Candidate Land, our adult answer to Candy Land that we’ve filled up with the city’s most influential leaders and some of the many shenanigans they’ve encountered over the years.

The board is in some ways set up geographically, meaning we’ve put Darrell Clarke, who is from North Philly, at the top, Vince Fumo, who is from South Philly, at the bottom, and others in the neighborhoods and areas from which they hail. Watch out for directions along the way that will either tell you to move forward or stay where you’re at, depending on what you come across.

Want to play Philadelphia Candidate Land IRL? Come to our Election Night Party:

[pedestal-event id=”55029″]

Here’s the full board (click for a larger size):


Below, we’ve explained each stop along the board so you can play along and, well, get all the jokes. Here they are:

The people you’ll see along the way:


Meet Darrell Clarke, the Philadelphia City Council president and the unofficial czar of North Philadelphia. That’s why he’s situated in the spot normally occupied by Queen Frostine.


Maria Quiñones-Sánchez is a force to be reckoned with in Philly. Despite having zero machine support and attempts by the party to keep her out of office, Quiñones-Sánchez has prevailed — last year, she defeated the racist candidate put up by the party to win re-election in the 7th Council District. Also: You’ll notice she’s the only woman on the board (save for our game pieces below). PA politics are very white and very male. Sigh.


Ed Rendell = King Kandy and the leader of the Candy Castle. The former Philadelphia mayor who went on to be governor is still one of the city’s biggest cheerleaders. He played a lead role in getting the Democratic National Convention to come to our city and remains one of the most notable political figures from Philly.


Two years ago, the head of the Northwest would have been Councilwoman Marian Tasco. But the longtime unofficial head of Northwest Philly has since retired. Dwight Evans is no longer a lowly state representative; he’s running for Congress to fill the seat once held by Chaka Fattah. As the Democrat on the ticket in one of the most heavily left districts in the country, Evans is poised to head to Washington.


State Sen. Anthony Hardy “Tony” Williams is from West Philadelphia, and though he ran for mayor and lost in 2015, he still wields significant political power here in the city. He is to West Philly what Gramma Nutt is to the Peanut Brittle House.


Move out of the way, old guard. Kevin and Brendan Boyle (Kevin’s on the left) are the guys in the Northeast. Brendan is a congressman and Kevin, though he just lost a run for state senate, is still a state representative. Together, they make up Princess Lolly and run the equivalent of the Lollipop Woods.


Congressman Bob Brady is the first stop along the Philadelphia Candidates board for a big reason: He’s basically the first stop when it comes to being a successful politician in Philly. The head of the Democratic party in the city, Brady runs the show here.


 Vince Fumo was the inarguable king of South Philly. Fumo doesn’t govern anymore — that ended after he went to federal prison in 2008 after being convicted on corruption charges. But he was once the top dog in South Philly and was a longtime state senator.


Jim Kenney! He’s the mayor! That’s why he’s next to City Hall. Duh.


Well, we at Billy Penn at least have the power to get Anthony Clark to show up to our Philadelphia Candidate land. This City Commissioner has been chided by the press, the public and members of his own party for failing to vote, failing to show up to work and then putting in for a DROP payment.

Things that might happen along the way:


That’s what you get when you’re done with politics in the city. At least, that’s kinda what happened with former Mayor John Street.


Remember when the party ran Manny Morales against Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and he turned out to have posted a bunch of kind of horrible stuff on his Facbeook? Quiñones-Sánchez went on to win. Phew.


Sorry to hear this happened to you! Join a big club of Philadelphia politicians who were also investigated by the feds.


Cough, John Street. The former mayor’s City Hall office was bugged by the FBI in the middle of his campaign for re-election. Street won re-election and was never charged with a crime.


Escape the trivialities of Philadelphia politics and go to your shore house. Ahem, John Dougherty.


Congrats, Rep. Jordan Harris and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. The two Philly pols hosted a swanky yacht party during the DNC.


That sucks. Guess you were a contractor that Doc didn’t like. At least you’re trying to get some revenge by suing Doc… for racketeering.


District Attorney Seth Williams knows about this one all too well. His office was under fire earlier this year for continuing to employe Frank Fina and Marc Costanzo, two attorneys caught up in the statewide Porngate controversy. Bass slammed Williams in front of City Council, and Fina eventually left the DA’s office.


Congratulations, Philadelphia city candidate! You just won the support of the leader of the most politically powerful union in Pennsylvania. Tread lightly here — the union, IBEW Local 98, is under investigation by the feds.


Take this nice shortcut to public office! If you’re lucky, no one in your district will even know it’s happening!


Just don’t take any cash. Ali was the lobbyist who teamed up with state investigators and wore a wire while bribing state officials in Philadelphia. The sting operation garnered lots of media attention, as it was shut down by former Attorney General Kathleen Kane. It was later picked up by Philadelphia DA Seth Williams, and multiple lawmakers were convicted.


Watch out for Tonya Stack. Northeast Philly state Rep. Kevin Boyle says the woman, who’s married to PA Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, threw soda on him and flipped him off in April inside a parish hall in the Northeast. Safe to say Stack and Boyle have feuded for… a long time.


This is a Deferred Retirement Option Plan. And it basically allows city officials to collect a lump sum by planning their retirement years in advance to ensure they get the optimal pension. Problem is: Some officials have used and abused this plan by opting in and then returning to city work. Shame.

The game pieces you can use:


The players:

  • Mike Stack – Philly state Senator turned lieutenant governor
  • Cindy Bass – Councilwoman representing the 8th district
  • Bobby Henon – Councilman representing the 6th district
  • Cherelle Parker – Former state representative now a Councilwoman representing the 9th district
  • Marian Tasco – Former City Councilwoman representing the 9th district
  • John Sabatina – Current state senator from Northeast Philadelphia

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