At a Tuesday morning press conference, the former Philadelphia mayor and Pennsylvania governor of told NinetyNine why he won’t likely officially back any of the six Democrats running in the May primary.
“Because they’re my friends,” Rendell said.
The friendship tree
Rendell and Lynne Abraham go back to the 1960s when they were colleagues under then-District Attorney Arlen Specter.
State Sen. Tony Williams “carried the water for us in Harrisburg” when Rendell was mayor, and the two worked closely during Rendell’s two terms as governor, he said.
He is also fond of former City Councilman Jim Kenney who “cast tough vote after tough vote.”
Nelson Diaz is a longtime “personal friend.”
How about Milton Street? “I don’t have quite the same relationship with Milton,” Rendell said with a laugh.
Meanwhile, he said Doug Oliver was the first candidate to meet with him. It seems he has made quite the impression.
“He’s doing all the things I did as a 33-year-old running for District Attorney,” Rendell said of Oliver. “He has no money so he’s going to subway stations every morning, every afternoon, just like I did, hoping that lightening strikes.”
His upcoming mayoral forum
Rendell was speaking in a conference room at The Bellevue on Broad Street where he announced plans for an upcoming mayoral forum to be hosted by the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement, the nonprofit he co-founded with his wife in 2013.
All six Democrats have been invited to attend the forum on May 4 at 9 a.m. at the Philadelphia School District’s North Broad Street headquarters.
The questions will come from fourth and fifth grade students with help from their teachers.
The forum will be live streamed in elementary, middle and high schools across the city.
The idea, Rendell said, is to use the event to teach young, future voters about what mayors do and what elections mean. He hopes getting students involved will put pressure on their parents to get out and vote.
“Everyone talks about the undue influence of big money and is correct, but the undue influence of big money occurs because ordinary citizens don’t get involved,” Rendell said. “If 85, 90 percent of our citizens voted in every election, big money would be cut off at the knees.”