Green takes lead in Philly ‘mayoral’ fundraising race

    It’s the favorite parlor game of Philadelphia politics: handicapping the next mayor’s race.

    So for entertainment purposes only, I checked the campaign finance reports of officials considered potential mayoral contenders for 2015.

    As of the end of 2012, here are the totals so far:

    City Councilman Bill Green: $127,944

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    State Sen. Anthony Williams: $105,163 (in two committees, see below)

    City Controller Alan Butkovitz: $146,681 (with a re-election battle this year)

    City Councilman Jim Kenney: $12,358

    City Councilman Wilson Goode Jr.: $2,136

    You can see more on their fundraising, as well as the numbers for Democratic candidates for city controller, in this spreadsheet I prepared.

    Who cares?

    I’ve covered enough mayoral races to know it’s folly to think you can tell what’s going to happen two years down the road, so these numbers don’t tell much of a story.

    “If you’re the biggest fundraiser in 2012, then you’re just the front-runner for the 2013 mayor’s election, which we don’t have,” said Kenney, who raised quite a bit and spent most of it this year.

    And nobody has anything approaching the millions they’ll need to wage an effective media campaign in 2015.

    That said, there is a quirk in the city’s campaign finance law that gives annual reports at least a little relevance. Because the city’s contribution limits apply on an annual basis (which is dumb), rather than an election cycle, a candidate who’s in it for the long haul will do well to get his core supporters to make the maximum contribution every year.

    And it’s hard to not to conclude that Green and supporters of Williams are trying to impress. Green posted a shocking $30,000 from one donor, which raises questions about the durability of the city’s campaign finance limits. I wrote about this on Monday.

    Meet Marty’s guy: Tony

    Among the most interesting developments of the political season is the emergence of a political committee that’s clearly a vehicle to raise money for Williams within the city’s campaign finance limits, a sure sign that it’s for a mayoral campaign. That’s in addition to his Williams for Senate Committee, which can accept unlimited donations and currently shows a balance of $56,729.

    The new committee is called the Believe Again PAC, and it held a fundraiser in December at the Rittenhouse Square apartment of local parking magnate Joe Zuritsky.

    The committe is chaired by power lawyer Marty Weinberg, and it’s amusing to hear him and and Williams describe the committee.

    Williams said he went to a fundraiser put on “by some folks,” and when I pressed him on who the folks were who organized it, he said, “pretty much Marty, for me.”

    When I asked him to describe his relationship to the committee, he said, “I don’t want to be cute. I don’t want to say, ‘Hey, look, what are you talking about?’ That would be silly. Clearly, it is a vehicle that could be used in some aspirant’s possibility to go forward working in City Hall. And I certainly could be one of those persons.”

    When Weinberg called me back, he acknowledged he’d love to see Williams run, but insisted that, at the moment, “This is more a issue-oriented vehicle than anything else … we’re trying to identify what are the issues of importance to Philadelphia, what the issues will be in the next mayoral campaign.”

    He said they’d gather insight by meeting with “different leaders of the city, different movers and shakers to see what they think.”

    When I asked why he needed to raise $61,000 to meet with people, Weinberg said, “You need money, you have to take people to lunch. There are expenses.”

    He added, “You know what a lunch at the Four Seasons goes for these days?”


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