Run, Tony run

    Nothing quickens the heart of a Philadelphia political reporter like the prospect of a contested mayor’s race, so State Senator Anthony Williams’ emergence as a maybe, sorta, just-might challenger to Mayor Nutter this spring is welcome reading.

    Williams told the Inquirer’s Marcia Gelbart plenty of folks want him to run for mayor, so he’s thinking about it.

    I’m sure it wasn’t welcome news for Nutter on the morning his endorsement by District Attorney Seth Williams, especially since the supporter and potential challenger share a last name.

    I wonder if Nutter wants to retract his endorsement of Tony’s gubernatorial candidacy last year.

    As much as we in the media love a political fight, it’s hard to imagine a Williams for Mayor campaign materializing.

    The biggest reason is money. Williams managed a credible run for governor because a few rich guys threw a couple million into his campaign. The city has campaign finance limits, so Williams can’t accept huge checks for mayor. As Nutter showed in 2007, the path to victory is paved with hundreds of modest contributions.

    The city law does permit supporters to spend on their own to support his candidacy in any amount they choose, but they’d have to have no contact with his campaign. And in this town, there’s an ethics board that actually enforces the rules.

    There’s also the matter of Williams’ already-announced plans to run for State Auditor General next year. He could always say he’s changed his mind, but at some point people begin to wonder if they should take what you say seriously.

    But Williams doesn’t have to resign his senate seat to run like City Council members would have to. So he just has to ask himself, “do I feel lucky?”

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