A third independent expenditure group has popped up in the Philadelphia mayor’s race, a strange affair in which most candidates can’t afford media campaigns, while outside groups un-constrainted by city contribution limits fire away.
The new player is Forward Philadelphia, a group supporting the candidacy of former City Councilman Jim Kenney.
The group’s ad is produced by Philadelphia-based media consultant Sol Shorr, whose finely crafted spots for Tom Wolf are credited (along with Wolf’s millions to buy ad time) with putting him ahead in last year’s Pennsylvania governor’s race.
The 30-second spot notes that Kenney is the son of a firefighter and the first in his family to go to college, and concludes with the phrase “Jim Kenney – the block-by-block mayor we need to move Philadelphia ahead.”
Forward Philadelphia is the second independent expenditure group to air an ad touting Kenney, after the labor-funded Super PAC, Build a Better Pa.
Show us the money
The chairman of Forward Philadelphia is Kevin Vaughan, a recently-retired veteran of city government I’ve known for years. He worked in the health department and the human relations commission.
Vaughan said the group has organized as an independent-expenditure only committee, which means it can raise and spend unlimited sums, including corporate and union money, as long as it doesn’t coordinate with the candidate it supports.
Vaughan said the group isn’t revealing donors now, but will file the legally-required campaign finance reports. That means we should have a picture of who’s funding the effort in an April 7 filing.
The American Federation of Teachers confirms it is supporting the group.
“I wanted to get involved because I’m proud of Jim Kenney and his record, and I wanted to make sure he has the same level of support other candidates have,” Vaughan told me. “He’s a progressive candidate, and I want to make sure people have a chance to hear what he has to say.”
Three wealthy pro-school choice executives have contributed $250,000 to an independent committee called American Cities to support State Senator Anthony Williams, and they’re expected to put more into a substantial media campaign.
So far Williams is the only candidate that has run an ad from its own campaign funds.