Kenney says ‘no’ to debate with Republican challenger

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney thanks his supporters on stage Tuesday evening after winning the 2019 Democratic primary. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney thanks his supporters on stage Tuesday evening after winning the 2019 Democratic primary. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The fall campaign for Philadelphia mayor is a little more than 24 hours old and accusations are already flying.

Mayor Jim Kenney says he has no plans to debate his Republican challenger, Bill Ciancaglini. Kenney appeared with his two opponents in the Democratic primary a few times, but says the GOP nominee is different.

“It’s hard when the person associates themselves with white supremacists and neo-Nazis to give that person a platform, so probably not,” Kenney said.

Kenney’s campaign cites leaked documents posted on the website Unicorn Riot to support his assertion. In the documents, unnamed members of a white supremacist group claim to have met with Ciancaglini.

Ciancaglini denies any contact with the group, saying the internet and social media are not a “reliable source” of information.

“Jim Kenney is making pretend to rely on this unreliable publication to avoid a debate because he is a gutless coward and he doesn’t want to come out of his office to do anything campaign-related unless he has to,” he said.

There is a picture of Ciancaglini from a Back the Blue rally for police that has a member of a white supremacist group in the background, but Ciancaglini denies any contact with the person.

He says he will continue to go to rallies backing police officers whenever he is invited.

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