FOP shuns former DA Abraham, endorses Kenney in Phila. mayoral race [updated]

 FOP President John McNesby (left) said 72 members voted in the mayoral endorsement race; 59 sided with Jim Kenney while only two supported Lynne Abraham. (NewsWorks, file art)

FOP President John McNesby (left) said 72 members voted in the mayoral endorsement race; 59 sided with Jim Kenney while only two supported Lynne Abraham. (NewsWorks, file art)

To hear Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby tell it, mayoral candidate and former district attorney Lynne Abraham did herself no favors while pursuing the union’s board of directors’ endorsement this week.

In speaking about pension changes and other hot-button issues for the police-officers’ union, “she took herself right out of the race,” he said Thursday morning.

Sure, the FOP endorsed Seth Williams against Abraham in a 2005 district-attorney primary that the latter won, but Wednesday night’s vote to overwhelmingly endorse Jim Kenney was a veritable landslide.

Of the 72 board members who voted, just two backed the “tough cookie” former DA. Meanwhile, Kenney drew 59 votes, Tony Williams garnered 10 and Nelson Diaz claimed the remaining tally.

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“I couldn’t tell you why people voted the way they did,” said McNesby, noting that it was a secret-ballot process. “We’re picking our boss for the next eight years, the one [in charge of] our wages and benefits.

“We let everybody come in and speak and make their case. Kenney and Williams both made good cases. Lynne, I don’t know where she was coming from, talking about the President’s [21st Century Policing Task Force] report, Act 111 and pension changes, things that we don’t want to hear about. She blew herself out of the water.

“Diaz came in and talked about everything but police issues. Doug Oliver and Milton Street didn’t come in at all. The bottom line is that we think Kenney will connect with city voters.”

The FOP boss wasn’t outright dismissive of Abraham’s public-service career, though.

“She was great as DA. She was respected and still is,” said McNesby of Abraham, who drew the lowest possible ballot position possible earlier Wednesday. “But it’s time we start looking for new blood, someone with better ideas. She’s kind of lost touch. That time is past.”

For his part, Kenney was pleased to add the FOP to an endorsement tally that recently added the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and Philadelphia AFL-CIO Council.

“As the son of a firefighter, I have a special appreciation for the sacrifices these men and women make by putting their lives on the line every day to protect our city,” he said in a statement. “As mayor, I will work with police leadership and the rank and file to end practices like stop-and-frisk that drive a wedge between citizens and police.

“We must create a culture where Philadelphians respect their officers and feel that every officer also respect their rights.”

On Thursday, Abraham told NinetyNine that she would have liked to have received the endorsement.

“As Philadelphia’s District Attorney for over 19 years, I worked closely with the men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department in service to the citizens of Philadelphia,” Abraham said. “While it would have been my hope to have received the FOP’s endorsement, I admire and respect their work. As mayor I will continue to work with them and the citizens to assure trust and confidence.”


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