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The race for City Controller looks like it’s on.
Rebecca Rhynhart resigned from her position as chief administrative officer, according to the city. She is widely expected to run for City Controller in next spring’s Democratic primary election against current Controller Alan Butkovitz.
A race pitting Rhynhart against Butkovitz wouldn’t be any ordinary one. There’s bad blood between the two stemming from her years working as city treasurer and budget director under former Mayor Michael Nutter.
Nutter and Butkovitz routinely feuded — earlier this year Nutter called Butkovitz “a sick and sad person.” Butkovitz told the Inquirer earlier this week he suspected Nutter talked Rhynhart into running.
“This sounds like a Nutter ploy,” he told the paper. “Nutter has been calling around, looking for an opponent ever since our initial Fund for Philadelphia audit.”
Rhynhart could not be immediately reached for comment.
As a longtime employee of the Mayor’s Office, she would come from a different background than Butkovitz and other recent city controllers. Butkovitz was a member of the Pennsylvania House before his tenure began. His predecessor Jonathan Saidel was an attorney whose political involvement was mostly limited to his work as a lawyer for the Democratic City Committee. Rhynhart would be auditing some of the departments she oversaw as CAO, treasurer and budget director.
Though Butkovitz and Nutter took their feud to another level, it’s not uncommon for the city controller and Mayor and City Council to butt heads. Rhynhart’s experience working for Nutter and Kenney could lead to a less typical relationship between the city controller and the other city public officials.
A race between Rhynhart and Butkovitz would be one of the first competitive in a long time. Butkovitz took over after Saidel declined to run in 2005. Saidel took over for Joe Vignola, who reisgned the position in the late 1980s to run for US Senate.
The city announced Christine Derenick-Lopez would serve as acting chief administrative officer.