Tomorrow, Philadelphia Democrats will make their pick for mayor, and the final days of the campaign have a familiar feel: with forums and debates behind them, the candidates stop engaging each other and focus on energizing their bases and turning out voters.
Trailing candidates try and convince supporters they’re still in the game. Frontrunners warn followers about overconfidence.
The six candidates for mayor whirled around Philadelphia over the weekend meeting as many voters as possible, while the TV advertising messages remained familiar — with one exception. An ad attacking former City Councilman Jim Kenney has appeared from a new organization called Leadership Matters.
The group’s donors remain unidentified, and I couldn’t get anyone from the organization to return a call Friday. I have a feeling they’ll be contacted soon by the city Ethics Board about some disclosure issues.
The weekend pushState Sen. Anthony Williams’ Sunday included a spirited church service in South Philadelphia , a motorcade with stops to greet voters, and an evening rally. He says he’s not worried about a poll last week that showed him trailing by more than 20 points.
“I don’t feel dismissed. I don’t feel overlooked, and I don’t feel out of it,” Williams said. “I feel very much involved and connected, and based upon what people are saying, I can’t reconcile that election day won’t be a competitive day.”
That poll found former City Councilman Jim Kenney with a big lead. Among his stops yesterday was a training session for election day workers in West Oak Lane, where he got the endorsement of five African-American elected officials.
“Think about this,” Kenney told about 200 workers gathered in a church basement for the training. “South Philadelphia, where I’m born and raised and from, and Northwest — that has never happened before. And we’re going to bring all these other groups of folks in from around the city and build this coalition together.”
Still in the gameFormer Judge Nelson Diaz held a rally in North Philadelphia with former U.S. Transportation Secretary Federico Pena.
Former District Attorney Lynn Abraham spent Sunday stumping for votes in Germantown and Northeast Philadelphia, where she said people are tired of big money interests trying to buy this election. And she said she isn’t worried about the poll that showed her trailing.
“I think we just saw two major elections where polling is wrong,” Abraham said. “Rahm Emanuel was supposed to lose in Chicago. He didn’t. Prime minister [David] Cameron in London was supposed to lose, he didn’t. And Lynne Abraham’s not going to lose on Tuesday.”
Former Philadelphia Gas Works executive Doug Oliver didn’t have the money for a major media campaign (though I did see a billboard of his in Olney yesterday), but he impressed a lot of people with his performance in debates and candidate forums. He said that no matter what happens in tomorrow’s primary, he feels good about the work he’s done.
“I haven’t made any decisions about what’s next, if I’d run for office again, or work in an administration or go back into a corporate environment,” Oliver said. “But one way or another, my job is to help my city. If it’s not as mayor, I’ll have to find another way to do it.”
Bill Hangley contributed to this report.