POLS ON THE STREET: How to Win a Race without Running

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MAYORAL CHALLENGERS Alan Butkovitz, L, and Anthony Williams showed up for a debate hosted by Masjidullah in West Oak Lane. Missing was the incumbent, Mayor Jim Kenney, who pled a previous engagement. It repeated a pattern that characterizes this year’s Democratic mayoral primary. Photo by Wendell Douglas

The strategy at the top of the mayoral race toward the May 21 municipal primary is now clear: Mayor Jim Kenney believes he is so far ahead, both in polling and in dollars, that he doesn’t need to show up on what is technically called “the campaign trail.”

Instead, he focuses all his public appearances on administrative events, of which any incumbent mayor has as many as he wishes, at taxpayers’ expense. Message: “Look at me, I’m doing things!”

His campaign need only spend money on TV advertising. In this department, Kenney is well heeled compared to his two Democratic rivals, State Sen. Anthony Williams and former Controller Alan Butkovitz. Kenney reported $656,000 cash on hand for Cycle 1, which ended Apr. 1. That’s TV money. Unsurprisingly, Kenney TV ads were launched in the last week.

As of Tuesday night, City Commission reported $49,000 in the bank for Williams and nothing yet for Butkovitz.

Think of it what you will, Kenney’s approach is smart politics.

CITY COMMISSION Chair Lisa Deeley was treated to a dance party at Chickie’s & Pete’s near the stadiums by legendary DJ Jerry Blavat. L-R at the affair were judicial hopeful Carmella Jacquinto, Ward Leader Shawn Dillon, Deeley, Ward Leader Pat Parkinson and DCC Chair Bob Brady. Photo by Jim Jenkins

Cycle 1 Finance Reports Bare Much News

Numerous other races are illuminated by the Cycle 1 campaign-finance reports. While the final picture was not yet in as we went to press – late filings do trickle in without an uproar – it is mostly clear now who enters the final lap of the race with what size kitty.

In the insanely crowded 13-way race for two Democratic City commissioner slots, incumbent Lisa Deeley’s numbers weren’t up yet. But they are expected to be high.

There is one open seat on the Democratic slate for which 12 are vying. Of the lot, prestigious attorney Kahlil Williams leads the pack in money. Although he has spent handsomely to date, he still had $170,000 in his campaign account as of Apr. 1.

RUNNING for re-election, Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez threw a fiesta for her friends at Maken Studios in Kensington. Front and center L-R were councilmanic candidate Isaiah Thomas, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, State Rep. Jason Dawkins, councilmanic candidate Justin DiBerardinis, Quiñones-Sánchez and developer Ted Wasserman. Photo by Wendell Douglas

Omar Sabir, endorsed by Democratic City Committee, has also been spending as fast as he’s raising. But he started April with $23,000 in the bank.

Luigi Borda had $37,000 left to play with. Dennis Lee had $13,000 in the tank and Marwan Kreidie had $5,000, but both gentlemen had been pushing money out as fast as it came in.

Long-term incumbent Register of Wills Ron Donatucci has been disbursing diligently but he still began the month with $16,00 at hand. Neither of his two challengers had filed a report that was posted Tuesday.

In the sheriff’s race, incumbent Jewell Williams had $37,000 cash on hand while one of his opponents, Guardian Civic League President Rochelle Bilal, had $5,000. Both candidates were shoveling out the cash as fast as it came in. No word yet on the third candidate, Malika Rahman.

STATE SEN. Sharif Street performed an annual ritual of throwing out the first ball for Pennsylvania Little League. This event, in several locations, was filled with enthusiasm as kids were eager to get started on the playing fields. Photo courtesy of Jim Harrity’s Facebook

City Council at-large races merit the most study because, since they cover the whole city, they are inherently expensive; yet because 33 Democrats are competing for just five slots on the November ballot, it is very hard to jump out and catch the average voter’s eye. Maybe you can do it with love; hopefully you can do it with ballot position; but for most of the pack, it’ll take some money.

We don’t have space to talk about those who reported little money or whose filings are not yet online. Good luck to them all. Let us turn today to those who have shown they hold high cards in this department.

Councilman Alan Domb has the buckos and is releasing them. He dropped $666,000 during Cycle 1 but still has $176,000 in his campaign chest going forward. It’s no wonder Domb commercials have graced TV screens for the past two weeks. His only other broadcast competitor is challenger Justin DiBerardinis, son of former Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis, who also has commercials up. His campaign-finance report was not available as of Tuesday, however.

DENNIS LEE for City Commissioner held a fundraiser last week at Spasso Italian Grill, sponsored by David Glanzberg.

Councilman Derek Green dropped a lot of money but still had $190,000 going forward. Challengers Sherrie Cohen and Fernando Treviño also pushed it out as fast as it came in but still had $37,000 and $30,000 respectively going forward. DCC-endorsed Katherine Gilmore Richardson is sitting atop $52,000 she has not yet used.

But the Saudi Arabia of untapped councilmanic reserves belongs to Councilwoman Helen Gym, who began the month of April with $411,000 to work with. Her strategy appears to be to spend later rather than earlier.

DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE people of Fishtown’s 18th Ward Venise Whitaker, far L, and Stefan Zajic, far R, welcome Council at-Large candidates Beth Finm and Deja Lynn Alvarez to Cedar Point Bar & Kitchen who were among numerous candidates attending the evening’s voter registration drive which also included some political quizzo. Philly Young Democrats John Brady reportedly knew the final answer for his team which donated the winnings back to the 18th Ward after correctly answering that the last governor before John Hickenlooper of Colorado to be a Beer Brewer was Samuel Adams of Massachusetts.

In district Council races, all filers with large balances have been pushing money out the door, so it’s not like they’ve been hoarding.

1st District Councilman went into April with $164,000 in the bank. 2nd District Councilman Kenyatta Johnson was sitting atop $521,000.

In the 3rd District, it’s a bit of a different picture. Challenger Jamie Gauthier has a bigger pile than incumbent Jannie Blackwell, $118,000 to $53,000. And neither has been hoarding money. Presumably, Blackwell figures her long-standing relationship with ward organizations in her district is worth something in itself.

A similar picture emerges in the heavily Latino7th District, where incumbent Maria Quiñones-Sánchez is being challenged by DCC-endorsed State Rep. Angel Cruz(D-Kensington). Both candidates are pitching money out as fast as it comes in. Quiñones-Sánchez had an edge as of Apr. 1, with $160,000 in her treasury as compared to Cruz’s $7,000, but Cruz can go to the party now for backing in the final push.

Judicial List Shakes down

As of Tuesday night, the list of judicial candidates was whittled down to its final shape. Not all withdrawals may have been posted as we went to press, but the following rankings are close to final.

Remaining were 25 candidates for six openings on Common Pleas Court in the Democratic primary. They will appear on the ballot in this order:

#1 Jennifer Schultz. #2 Joshua Roberts. #3 Craig Levin. #4 Jon Marshall. #5 James Crumlish.

#6 Nicola Serianni. #7 Wendi Barish. #8 Leon Goodman. #9 Robert Trimble. #10 Beth Grossman.

#11 Sherman Toppin. #12 Cateria McCabe. #13 Kendra McCrae. #14 Vicki Markovitz. #15 Laurie Dow.

#16 Anthony Kyriakakis. #17 Chris Hall. #18 Henry McGregor Sias. #19 Janine Momasso. #20 Tiffany Palmer.

#21 Carmella Jacquinto. #22 James Berardinelli. #23 Terri Booker. #24 Kay Yu. #25 Gregory Weyer.

Four candidates for the single Municipal Court opening remain on the ballot. They are:

#1 David Conroy. #2 Betsy Wahl. #3 Christian DiCicco. #4 Theresa Brunson.

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