Requiem for Knox campaign, again

    Businessman Tom Knox told Mayor Nutter last Friday that he was bowing out of the 2011 mayor’s race and planning to endorse the incumbent, he told me after his endorsement news conference.

    He also said he had breakfast with former Governor Ed Rendell at the Bellevue Monday, and convinced Rendell to join in backing the incumbent.

    “I told him what I was going to do,” Knox told me. “He (Rendell) said, `you know, if you had stayed in, I wouldn’t have endorsed anyone, I would have tried to help you.’”

    Knox said he took that to mean Rendell would have given him advice, rather than an endorsement (Rendell and Knox have longstanding ties, but Rendell stayed neutral in the 2007 mayoral primary when Knox and Nutter were in the field).

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    Knox said Rendell told him, “you should endorse him, and I will to.”

    And Knox said that’s how the two came to endorse Nutter at a morning news conference.

    Knox declared his candidacy for governor last year, but withdrew without filing nominating papers. Why back out again?

    As Knox explained to reporters, media advisors told him he’d have to attack Nutter in a general election to win.

    “I said, I just cant do that, it’s not me,” Knox said. “I like the guy, and I think he’s doing a credible job. He’s got a lot of critics, and no money.”

    “He’s been there for 3 years now, he’s learned the job,” Knox added. “He’d do a better job next term than I would. I’d have a learning curve.”

    When I reminded Knox that he’d said a few months back that Nutter hadn’t accomplished much, he chuckled. “When you’re going to run against somebody, you’re not going to say nice things.”

    I asked Knox, who is 69, if he thinks he’ll ever run for office again.

    “I might,” he said. “I’m not going to take myself out of the ring.”

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