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If the field of potential candidates holds steady, the race for Philly’s next mayor is going to be an adventure.
While none of the likely contenders has officially launched a campaign, several confirmed to Billy Penn they’re eyeing a run in 2023.
Seven of the possible candidates are currently elected officials, and would have to resign to pursue the Democratic nomination. Because of the city’s 7-to-1 Democrat to Republican voter registration imbalance, the contest is likely to be decided in the primary.
The resign-to-run announcements are expected to begin soon — potentially this month.
Political observers say they could start dropping after the city finalizes the 2023 budget, which it plans to do on June 23. Getting an early start would allow campaigns to fundraise heartily in 2022 without affecting contribution limits for 2023.
Only one widely-rumored contender isn’t an elected official: local grocery store mogul Jeff Brown. He hasn’t officially announced his run for mayor yet either, but has been included in the buzz for nearly a year and a half.
Here’s a bit about each of the potential candidates, presented in alphabetical order by first name.
Domb confirmed to Billy Penn he’s thinking about a potential mayoral run.
The at-large councilmember, now 67, was first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. Before seeking public office, he spent decades building a huge real estate portfolio in Philadelphia and still owns dozens of properties. He’s also an investor in Stephen Starr restaurants.
In Council, he’s been a key figure in the city’s fiscal issues. He campaigned on a promise to collect taxes from out-of-state property owners and use the money to fund city schools. He also has worked on legislation to relieve low-income Philadelphians from wage tax burdens.
During the height of the pandemic, Domb publicly advocated for setting up an early mass COVID vaccination clinic at Lincoln Financial Field. He worked with the Eagles to secure permission, and criticized the current administration for declining to accept the offer.
“Philadelphia is clearly in a moment of crisis and at an inflection point. Unfortunately, the city lacks both direction and leadership,” Domb said this week in a statement.
“I’m exploring the opportunity to be the city’s next leader and have been very encouraged by many Philadelphians who believe I can be the type of candidate and mayor who can focus on what’s most important — public safety, inclusive job growth, and supporting neighborhoods in every corner of the city — and bring about real change that lifts people out of poverty.”
Domb’s campaign committee started 2022 with about $299k cash on hand, according to public records.
Current majority leader on City Council, Parker represents the 9th District, which covers parts of Northwest and North Philly.
Parker, 49, was elected in 2015, replacing retiring Councilmember Marian Tasco, whose endorsement she won. She is a member of the Northwest Coalition, the Tasco-founded group of influential African American pols who hold sway in one of the city’s highest turnout sections. Mayor Jim Kenney has been a past supporter of Parker’s.
She is also board chair for the Delaware River Port Authority — the bi-state organization that oversees Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s four river-spanning bridges and the PATCO Speedline. Before joining Council, Parker was a state rep for Pa.’s 200th district.
On Council, her policy initiatives have been focused on assisting Philadelphia homeowners and working class residents.
Parker did not respond to Billy Penn’s request for comment regarding a mayoral run.
Her campaign committee started 2022 with about $218k cash on hand, according to public records.
Bass, councilmember for District 8 in Northwest Philadelphia, has been mentioned by some as a potential candidate, though her name hasn’t been left out of some of the roundups of mayoral contenders so far.
Political observers say Bass, 54, is less likely than some others to resign her seat to run.
She took office in 2012, and has focused largely on neighborhood issues. Recently, she’s been in the spotlight for development matters, including a moratorium on demolition in her district and allegations by a Germantown group that she abused her power in a meeting to discuss the future of the long-vacant Germantown YWCA building.
Asked about her potential candidacy, Bass told Billy Penn: “I have no comment at the moment, other than I have not made a decision. In the meantime, it is my honor and privilege to serve the constituents of the 8th district.”
In 2021 fundraising, Bass lagged far behind others on this list. Her cash on hand at the end of the year was a bit over $45k.
Green is an at-large councilmember first elected in 2015, when he received more votes than any other at-large candidate. Like Parker, the 51-year-old is also a member of the Northwest Coalition.
Before being elected, Green, a lawyer, was special counsel to Tasco when she was District 9 councilmember. He previously served as a deputy city solicitor in the city’s Law Department, and he is of counsel (a practicing non-partner) at Philadelphia law firm Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel.
Asked if he’s planning to announce his mayoral campaign soon, Green responded that he’s currently focused on getting the city budget passed.
Other priorities he noted are addressing violent crime, which he called “an all-out crisis affecting every neighborhood,” and focusing on the city’s public school system. “I look forward to leading the city in the future,” he added.
Green’s campaign committee started 2022 with about $207k cash on hand, according to public records.
An at-large councilmember, Gym was first elected in 2015. When re-elected in 2019 she got more votes than any other council member on the ballot — stoking rumbles about her mayoral potential.
A former teacher, the 54-year-old councilmember got into city politics organizing around Philadelphia public schools — she co-founded Parents United for Public Education — and as an advocate for immigrant rights. She is also co-chair of the board at Local Progress, a network of progressive municipal leaders across the U.S.
She doesn’t appear ready to drop any hints about ambitions for higher office.
“Helen remains focused on delivering meaningful change for Philadelphia’s students, school communities, and working families through City Council,” a spokesperson told Billy Penn.
“Right now, that means ensuring the city’s budget delivers necessary investments for young people and long-neglected public spaces, and she’ll continue to champion legislation that makes Philadelphia a safer, more equitable, and more accessible city.”
Gym’s campaign committee started 2022 with about $327k cash on hand, according to public records.
Brown, 58, is the president and CEO of Brown’s Super Stores, owner of a dozen ShopRite and Fresh Grocer stores in Philadelphia. His name has been circulating in talks about the mayoral race since January 2021.
He made political headlines in Kenney’s first term for his outspoken opposition to the soda tax, and has recently stepped up his social media game, offering unsolicited statements on public issues and current events.
Observers say he’s likely ahead of the others in organizing his run because he doesn’t have to resign from any public office, and because he has plenty of money to help kickstart the campaign.
Philly Progress PAC, a political action committee with ties to Brown brought in $934,000 last year, the Inquirer reported, but a consultant for the group denied that it was raising money for Brown’s campaign.
Brown did not respond to Billy Penn’s request for comment.
Quiñones-Sánchez has been councilmember for District 7, which includes parts of lower Northeast Philly and North Philadelphia around Kensington, since 2008. She hasn’t had Democratic party backing in any of her four City Council campaigns, and she often publicly butts heads with party leaders.
Quiñones-Sánchez, 53, has described herself as a pragmatic progressive. She championed a bill to expand protections for domestic workers, and she is an outspoken opponent of the soda tax, which she has said disproportionately burdens working-class people with lower incomes.
Late last year, the councilmember opened up about her experience fighting breast cancer — she underwent a mastectomy in August, followed by preventive chemotherapy and radiation treatment, all while continuing her duties on City Council. She kept her diagnosis quiet at first, but later chose to share it in hopes it would motivate other women to get regular screenings.
Rumors have been circulating that Quiñones-Sánchez is planning to launch her campaign imminently, which would mean she’d resign from Council.
Through an assistant, she declined to comment for this story.
Her campaign committee started 2022 with $182k cash on hand, according to public records.
Rhynhart, who is 47, confirmed to Billy Penn she’s considering a mayoral candidacy.
The former Bear Stearns financial analyst was budget director and treasurer under Mayor Michael Nutter and chief administrative officer under Kenney. She beat a three-term incumbent in 2017 to be elected Philadelphia city controller, the fiscal watchdog that audits the city and the school district.
She coasted to re-election in 2021 with no opponents from either party, but continued to fundraise anyway, building up a hearty campaign nest egg.
One of her first steps in office was to create a new phone line for municipal workers to confidentially discuss their past experiences with reporting sexual misconduct. In her first annual audit, she called out Philadelphia’s weak internal controls over financial management, leading to $924 million in accounting arrears and $33 million in missing funds.
“As City Controller, I’ve taken on the political status quo that has too often failed our residents — as my office has pushed to make city government work. We all can see not only the many challenges facing Philadelphia, but also its promise,” Rhynhart said.
“I’m considering a run for mayor because I love this city and want to have the biggest impact I can possibly have — to move us forward, together.”
Her campaign committee started 2022 with nearly $769k cash on hand, according to public records.