Philadelphia Council president raising money in New York

    Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke, at the center of the will-he-or-won’t-he-run-for-mayor guessing game, is holding a fundraising event in New York Dec. 13 on Pennsylvania Society weekend.

    The invitation suggests contributions of $11,500 for political committees and $2,900 for individuals, figures which conform exactly to the maximum annual contributions permitted under the city’s campaign finance law.

    “2014 has been full of progress. However, we have bigger goals for 2015,” the invitation says.

    I asked Clarke’s campaign finance chairman, attorney Charles Gibbs, what the “bigger goals” are and specifically whether Clarke would seek the mayor’s office.

    I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear I didn’t get a straight answer.

    “The Council president will be on a ballot in the city of Philadelphia in 2015,” Gibbs said. “He’s a man that does not not believe in stagnation, that as a city we can and will be more, and he’s looking forward to the opportunity to contribute his voice, as he has on Council, to the important issues facing our city.”

    Fair enough. If Clarke doesn’t run for mayor, he can use contributions to the Friends of Darrell L. Clarke for his re-election campaign for City Council. Given that he would be a shoo-in for re-election, he can use that money to support other candidates, pick up IOUs, and build his political clout.

    Most folks I know (and I’m one of them) doubt Clarke will run for mayor. I’ve even heard rumors that an announcement that he won’t run is planned — or was planned and cancelled.

    Who knows? But the politically smart thing to do if you can extract contributions from people who want to be on your good side is to have everybody max out by Dec. 31 because the contribution limits in the city’s campaign law apply on an annual basis, rather than an election cycle.

    Clarke’s fundraiser is at the Seafire Grill on East 48th Street in Manhattan. I’m sure the food will be great. I showed up at his New York fundraiser last year and was politely told I wouldn’t be needed. I expect this one will be well attended.

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