New pro-Kenney super PAC in Philly mayor’s race

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A new TV ad has appeared supporting Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s re-election. Like every other television ad in the campaign, it’s funded by an independent group.

The ad is from a new super PAC called Forward Philadelphia Together, funded primarily by teachers unions.

Its chairman, Kevin Vaughan, headed a similar group called Forward Philadelphia, which spent more than $1.3 million four years ago to support Kenney’s successful campaign for mayor.

Super PACs are permitted under U.S. Supreme Court decisions to raise and spend unlimited sums on political messaging as long as they don’t coordinate with the candidates they favor.

A source familiar with campaign ad buys said the group has already booked more than $500,000 worth of time on local stations to run ads through May 13. In a brief telephone interview, Vaughan declined to discuss how much the group is spending, but he said the group won’t disappear from the airwaves.

“We’ll be up (on television) through the end of the campaign,” Vaughan said.

The American Federation of Teachers and its local affiliate, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, are the largest donors to the group, he said.

Another super PAC funded by building trades unions, called Philly 2019 spent $448,000 on ads supporting Kenney as of April 21, the most recent campaign reporting deadline.

The American Beverage Association spent $604,000 on ads attacking Kenney and his sweetened beverage tax in the same period.

The message

The Forward Philadelphia Together ad begins with video of President Donald Trump.

“In Washington, Donald Trump tries to tear us apart,” an announcer says. “Here in Philadelphia, Mayor Kenney tackles tough problems and brings us together.”

The Kenney achievements cited in the ad are strikingly similar to those in the first ad from the building trades super PAC, Philly 2019.

The ad says Kenney returned the school district to local control, “ending decades of control by Harrisburg Republicans,” launched pre-K programs for thousands of kids, and signed bills raising the minimum wage for city workers and promoting pay equity for women.

Neither Kenney’s campaign, nor those of his two opponents — former City Controller Alan Butkovitz and state Sen. Anthony Williams — have yet placed television ads.

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