Attorney Ken Trujillo has suddenly dropped out of the Philadelphia mayor’s race, and is urging former city Human Services Commissioner Alba Martinez to get in.
Trujillo took the city’s political community by surprise yesterday with brief statement saying he’s leaving the race to attend to unspecified family matters. In a phone interview late in the day, Trujillo spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said he was urging Martinez to consider a run for mayor.
Martinez didn’t respond to an email I sent last night.
UPDATE: It took Martiniez less than 24 hours to dash hopes of her candidacy. She sent me the following statement: “I was sad to see Ken Trujillo exit the Mayor’s race. I love Philadelphia, and I love public service, however I do not have plans to run for Mayor in 2015 because I am fully committed to Vanguard and to our clients at this time.”
This isn’t the first time her name has been mentioned in connection with the mayor’s race. Many people looking for some new blood in the race have talked about Martinez as an appealing candidate.
Now an executive at the Vanguard Group, Martinez is a former CEO of the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and was a well-regarded Commissioner of the city’s Department of Human Services under Mayor John Street.
I’ve heard from friends she’s said she’s interested in public office someday, but not now. She told the Daily News when the subject came up in November that she was committed to her role at Vanguard.
Meanwhile, many are puzzled by Trujillo’s sudden departure. He didn’t wander into this thing casually. He assembled an experienced team of campaign professionals, and seemed to be dead serious about making a run at it.
The lack of specificity in his personal reasons inevitably spawned rumors and questions: Did some liability from his past emerge? Does he anticipate the emergence of an unbeatable candidate?
Absent any information to the contrary, I have to take Trujillo’s explanation at face value. One source told me Trujillo said his parents in New Mexico are seriously ill, and he’s needed to help. Hitt said Trujillo’s father is deceased, but his mother is in New Mexico.
One thing I know: Trujillo’s departure alters the financial calculations of the remaining candidates in the race. Unlike anywhere else in Pennsylvania, candidates for office in Philadelphia can accept contributions only within defined limits: $2,900 from individuals, and $11,500 from business partnerships, unions and political committees.
It was anticipated Trujillo would put at least $250,000 of his own into his campaign, triggering the “millionaire’s provision” in the campaign finance law and automatically doubling the contribution limits for everybody else — so individuals who could afford it could give $5,800 and political committees could give $23,000.
That would mean that, say, if you had a half-dozen unions on your side who could get their affiliates in other states all joining them to contribute $23,000 each, you get to some healthy numbers pretty quickly.
With Trujillo’s departure, there’s no prospect of anyone else in the field self-financing and bumping up the contribution limits. So candidates will have to try and build a broader base of smaller contributions, or hope some well-heeled supporters will mount an independent expenditure campaign.
Here’s Trujillo’s departure announcement:
“It is with great regret that I announce today I will no longer pursue the office of Mayor of Philadelphia. My wife, daughter and I are greatly saddened by this decision, but there are family matters that require my full attention. I am announcing this now because I believe strongly that we must leave the door open for another candidate to enter this race. Philadelphia needs someone who has the skills and values to put Philadelphia first, and I very much hope voters will have such an option. I am grateful for the extraordinary support I’ve received, and it is my sincerest regret that I will not be able to pursue this campaign to the end.”