Council Pres. Clarke: ‘I’m supporting Jim Kenney’ for mayor

 City Council President Darrell Clarke announced his support of Jim Kenney's mayoral candidacy on Thursday afternoon. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

City Council President Darrell Clarke announced his support of Jim Kenney's mayoral candidacy on Thursday afternoon. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Near the end of a primary season that started amid speculation that he might run for mayor, City Council President Darrell Clarke threw his support behind Jim Kenney’s candidacy on Thursday afternoon.

After leading Kenney on a tour of the Martin Luther King Older Adult Center and the Stephen Klein Wellness Center, both located at 22nd St. and Cecil B. Moore Ave., Clarke noted the importance of a good working relationship between mayor and council.

From a semantics perspective, the council president was loathe to label his support an “endorsement” insofar as not really knowing “what endorsements mean,” but backed his former co-worker nonetheless.

“It’s time for me to say, in a very public way, what my position is in terms of who we in City Council will ultimately work with, and I think that person should be Jim Kenney,” he said. “I will be supporting Jim Kenney to be mayor of the city of Philadelphia. This was a decision that was somewhat challenging because I know everybody in the race.”

He based his support, in part, on seeing Kenney not just paying lip service to being a “block-by-block” mayor, but having a career that backed it up.

“I need to be with that particular person,” Clarke said of anyone who met that threshold, which Kenney did as far as he’s concerned.

Near the end of a brief press conference outside the Klein Center, Kenney hearkened back to his former complaints about having to “resign to run,” but has since realized he would not have been able to campaign as he has while still sitting on council.

“Nothing comes close to the intensity of running for mayor,” he said.

Also endorsing Kenney was City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

“I am humbled to have the support of both the Council President and Controller Butkovitz,” said Kenney. “Both will be essential partners in creating Philadelphia where every family has a shot at success no matter what they neighborhood they live in.”

Clarke’s endorsement came less than 24 hours after the first independent poll of the mayoral campaign held that Kenney has a commanding lead over the field and less than two weeks after the council president led the candidate on a tour of his district.

For more on the announcement, see Dave Davies’ story.

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