Running a Republican campaign in Philadelphia is always an uphill battle. The city’s voter registration numbers don’t just lean Democrat, they tilt – big time.
This year’s general election will nonetheless feature two Republican candidates who are setting their sights on becoming the next city controller and district attorney.
Terry Tracy, who is running for city controller, Philadelphia’s fiscal watchdog, and Danny Alvarez, who’s running for district attorney, know the city bleeds blue and that their chances are slim. They both say they’re running, among other reasons, to promote true political discourse.
“As long as there is competition of ideas and as long as there are folks from both ends of the spectrum, playing, it’s good,” said Tracy, a retail executive. “It yields better results.”
That said, the first-time candidate notes that the city would be better served by a city controller from the Republican Party. It’s not simply about self-interest.
“Given the realities of the political dynamics of the city, we have every reason to believe that having a control of the opposite party makes sense,” said Tracy. “There’s just inherent independence that you don’t get when you’re a ward leader or when you’re sort of blatantly interested in running for mayor in a year.”
Despite speculation, incumbent Democrat Alan Butkovitz, Tracy’s opponent, has not yet declared his intention to run for mayor.
Above all, however, Tracy wants to see the post’s influence expand as, he said, the influence of city government has recently. He’d like to see the city controller play a more active role as legislation and budgets are coming together.
“We need someone in there to call balls and strikes, much like the (Congressional Budget Office) does down in Washington, and say, ‘Look, the way the legislation is written today, objectively, we project this will be the cost to the economy. Now given that cost, is it the right thing to do?'” Tracy said.
Tracy thinks that strategy could also be useful when it comes to other fiscal matters, including the School District of Philadelphia’s budget.
Alvarez, 35, is also looking for a new way of doing business.
When it comes to the DA’s office, Alvarez, a former city prosecutor turned private criminal defender, sees a lot of waste. He said making the office more efficient will ultimately make the city safer.
“Every dime that’s wasted, whether it’s through public corruption or in jobs that are simply not needed that don’t go toward prosecuting crimes, every dime that’s wasted is a dime that’s later converted into a bullet out on our streets,” he said.
Alvarez will face incumbent District Attorney Seth Williams in the general election.
Williams is heavily favored, but Alvarez said it’s still important he and other Republicans run for office.
“Regardless of people’s political affiliations, the truth is that we all want the same thing. We want safer streets and honest government,” said Alvarez. “That’s not a Republican thing. That’s not a Democrat thing. That is a Philadelphia thing.”
The general election is Nov. 5.