Kenney lands Clarke’s endorsement for Philadelphia mayor

    It just keeps getting better for Jim Kenney.

    The day after the first independent poll of the mayor’s race showed the former City Councilman with a big lead, City Council President Darrell Clarke bestowed his highly-valued endorsement on Kenney, his former colleague.

    “I’m supporting Jim Kenney to be the mayor of Philadelphia,” Clarke said during a news conference in North Philadelphia. “I think he will do a good job.”

    Clark said he was impressed with Kenney’s interest in the neighborhoods in his district and his support for public employee unions.

    “When I hear somebody tell me they’re going to be a block by block mayor, and they’ve exhibited a willingness to do that, I think it is clear that I need to be with that particular person,” Clarke said, adding at one point that he isn’t sure “if people really care” what he thinks of the candidates in the race.

    While Clarke may downplay his endorsement, Kenney knows that the blessing of one of the city’s most prominent African-American leaders is helpful, even in the last week of the campaign.

    Race is only one factor in the contest, of course, but to Kenney, a white candidate from South Philadelphia, credibility with black political leaders is valuable.

    Last month, Kenney got the endorsement of five black elected officials from Northwest Philadelphia, prompting a rebuke from some who back State Sen. Anthony Williams.

    I asked Clarke about that event at which former City Councilman and former deputy mayor George Burrell said many early leaders of independent black politics in Philadelphia would be “rolling over in their graves” to see the Northwest Philadelphia officials endorsing Kenney.

    Clarke said he wouldn’t respond to Burrell, “but what I will say is that the last time I checked, this is America. This is the city of Philadelphia, and if you are registered to vote, you’re authorized to select or support whoever you want to support.”

    Clarke’s friendship and good will will also be important to Kenney if he wins the Democratic primary on Tuesday and becomes mayor in January. Clarke’s position as president seems secure, and he’s been an activist leader, often determining Council’s position on key policy issues.

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