Mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker at the Restoring Safety Forum hosted by Billy Penn, WHYY, and CeaseFirePA, in March 2023. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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Six weeks out from the primary election, mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker is racking up endorsements from the region’s current elected officials. 

Of the sitting senators, representatives, and councilmembers from Philadelphia who have publicly backed a candidate, the lion’s share have chosen Parker, who served for a decade in Harrisburg before being elected to two terms in City Council. 

The latest to join the pack is U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, who told The Inquirer, “She was at the state level and the local level and she knows how to use relationships.”

Parker’s broad support among active leaders in the Democratic Party is especially notable because of the large, divided field in the race. Philly electeds appear to have coalesced behind a candidate in a way that other interest groups and coalitions haven’t. 

Generally, the endorsements from unions, ward leaders, and political organizations are split between five candidates: Jeff Brown, Helen Gym, Rebecca Rhynhart, Allan Domb, and Parker. 

If you just look at Democratic Party power brokers, officials, and legislators, Parker’s campaign takes the edge. Caveat: Several lawmakers have yet to throw their weight behind any mayoral contender, so if more elected officials choose to endorse, the picture could change. 

What these endorsements portend for May 16 remains to be seen, but here’s a look at the situation as it currently stands. 

Harrisburg and beyond

This category is where Parker really pulls away from the pack. 

Rhynhart may have the support of two *former* Philly mayors (Michael Nutter and John Street), but among people currently in office, Parker can claim the backing of:

  • U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans 
  • Pa. Sen. Sharif Street (Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chair)
  • Pa. Sen. Vincent Hughes  
  • Pa. Sen. Christine Tartaglione
  • Pa. Sen. Jimmy Dillon
  • Pa. Rep. Darisha Parker
  • Pa. Rep. Stephen Kinsey
  • Pa. Rep. Donna Bullock
  • Pa. Rep. Jose Giral
  • District 6 Councilmember Mike Driscoll

Pa. Sen. Nikil Saval just this week endorsed Gym. At-large Councilmember Kendra Brooks also endorsed Gym. No other City Council members have made endorsements..

At the hyper-local level 

Support at the hyper local level can be critical in off-year elections, because the door-knocking and flyering and phone-banking these groups often take on helps drive people to the polls.

There are 66 wards in Philadelphia, each with its own Democratic Party committee and ability to make an endorsement. In so-called closed wards, the ward leader has final say in who gets the nod, whereas in open wards, the whole committee gets to vote.

To date, Rhynhart and Gym have gotten all of the open-ward endorsements. 

Gym has the backing of five (the 1st, 2nd, 18th, 22nd, and 39a), demonstrating support in South Philly, Fishtown, and parts of Mt. Airy. Rhynhart has won over some of the highest-turnout wards, including the 5th, 8th, 9th, and 15th, situated in Chestnut Hill and Center City.  

Parker, meanwhile, has pulled in a lot of traditional endorsements in the Northeast, including from wards 23, 41, 53, 57, 58, 63, 64, and 66b — and support in Northwest Philly, her home base. In total, at least a dozen ward leaders have thrown their weight behind Parker.

Support from organized labor

Parker’s support among unions is far from comprehensive, but it does include the largest coalition of organized workers, which has backed the winner in the previous two mayoral elections. 

That’s the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, a coalition of over 50 local unions that, with former chief John Dougherty at the helm, helped get Mayor Jim Kenney elected.

IBEW Local 98, an influential member of the Building Trades Council, did not join the coalition’s Parker endorsement at first, but business manager Mark Lynch announced the union’s support for Parker on April  5, weeks after the BDC.

Parker also won an endorsement from the Eastern Atlantic States Council of Carpenters — in 2015, it backed Senator Anthony Williams, but members funneled over $700,000 to Kenney’s successful run — as well as Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ.

One of the big municipal workers unions, District Council 33, endorsed Jeff Brown, while another, District Council 47, endorsed Gym.

Gym has the second-most union support, having also been endorsed by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, UNITE HERE, and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the Teamsters.

Updated April 5

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Jordan Levy is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn, always aiming to help Philadelphians share their stories. Formerly, he has worked at Document Journal, n+1 Magazine, and The New Republic. He...