How ‘The Blues Brothers’ movie helps explain Jim Kenney’s mayoral-primary win

 Jim Kenney prepares to deliver his victory speech after winning the Democratic mayoral primary on May 19. (Stephanie Aaronson/via The Next Mayor Partnership)

Jim Kenney prepares to deliver his victory speech after winning the Democratic mayoral primary on May 19. (Stephanie Aaronson/via The Next Mayor Partnership)

Three weeks after Jim Kenney’s overwhelming victory in the Democratic mayoral primary, the Inquirer‘s Chris Hepp doubled back and checked in with the campaign’s “brain trust” to discuss how everything fell into place for the former city councilman.

It’s well worth a read not only for “The Blues Brothers” reference …

Describing Jim Kenney’s nascent Philadelphia mayoral campaign, Ken Snyder called to mind an improbable escape scene from a famous comic film.

“All right, we’re down 14 points and we have $75,000 in the bank,” said Kenney’s political strategist, recounting the candidate’s initial standing in the polls and the state of his finances. “It felt like The Blues Brothers: ‘It’s dark out, we’re wearing sunglasses, and we’re out of gas. Let’s hit it.'”

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… but for other interesting nuances, including early polling results …

[Campaign pollster Anna] Greenberg conducted an initial poll (March 4) that found Kenney trailing Lynne Abraham by 14 percentage points but leading Anthony Hardy Williams, long the presumed favorite, by four points.

“I felt pretty confident, at that point, that we could win,” she said.

“Kenney’s win was foreshadowed in that first poll that had him trailing so desperately. They worried more, at times, about Abraham than Williams. They held their breath for a month-long stretch, waiting for a wave of negative ads that never came. Finally, they said, Kenney won by working harder than his rivals to build a coalition of labor, progressive and African American leaders that had never been a given.

And, the teachers-union endorsement

Snyder said Kenney campaigned hard for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ endorsement, visiting schools and selling himself individually to teachers. Snyder said that extra effort set Kenney apart from Abraham — and paid off as the 12,000-member PFT mobilized to help elect him.

And, the importance of the Northwest Philadelphia elected-officials endorsement.

“There is no coalition unless you add African Americans to it,” he said. “It was obvious there was just one place to go, and that was Dwight Evans.”

Snyder said the campaign and Kenney assiduously courted the powerful state representative and his chief ally in the city’s Northwest, Councilwoman Marian Tasco.

“Every day I sent Jane a text that just said: ‘Dwight, Dwight, Dwight,” Snyder said, referring to Jane Slusser, Kenney’s campaign manager. “And every morning she’d write back: ‘Working on it.’

” . . . Jim was like a dog on a bone. Jane was relentless. They met with [Evans and Tasco] many times. There was a lot of back-and-forth.”

Finally, in early April, Evans and Tasco endorsed Kenney. Two weeks later, Greenberg conducted a second poll (April 21), in anticipation of the campaign launching its TV ads.

The results showed a remarkable swing for Kenney, who now led.

You can read the full story via this link.

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