Wolf formally endorses Kenney for mayor

File this one under: Huh? That didn’t already happen? 

Gov. Tom Wolf formally endorsed Democratic nominee Jim Kenney for mayor of Philadelphia Thursday afternoon, just as the state budget impasse hit the 100-day mark.

The event took place at Spring Garden Academy. The Christian pre-K and elementary school is just around the corner from the headquarters of Local 98 (the city’s powerful electricians union that helped fund one of two super PACs backing Kenney’s primary campaign), which was the second stop on the governor’s visit.

But first, Wolf and Kenney visited a classroom, where kids wearing yellow scrubs and blue rubber gloves played doctor and performed emergency surgery on dolls. Per photographer Bastiaan Slabbers, Kenney asked one child with a stethoscope, “Can you check if I have a heart?”

In another classroom, Wolf said he looks forward to working with Kenney “to make sure we do for Philadelphia and the rest of the state all that we need to do to make sure that all children in every ZIP code and every community … get a good education.”

“So congratulations to you in advance,” he said, shaking Kenney’s hand and wishing him “good luck.” 

They were joined by City Council President Darrell Clarke who didn’t want to act as if Kenney would need any luck.

“I’d say you’re the mayor,” Clarke said, to which Kenney replied, “Just call me Jim.”

Clarke has been visiting Wolf in Harrisburg often these last several months as the constipated budget debate drags on.

“I can tell you that the team, Gov. Wolf, Mayor Kenney, and the City Council of Philadelphia, we’re going to move the agenda,” he said. 

Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives Wednesday soundly defeated Wolf’s latest tax proposal. House Republicans have refused to raise sales or income taxes as the governor’s proposing. Instead, they want to find new revenue streams through expanding gambling or privatizing liquor sales. 

Meanwhile, without a state budget, leaders of the already cash-strapped Philadelphia School District are getting even more antsy about cash flow. 

As he headed down the street toward Local 98 HQ, I pulled Kenney aside to ask, if he were mayor now, would he be putting more pressure on Wolf? 

“I’m not going to be telling any other elected official what he or she should be doing,” he said. “I would tell the governor, ‘Thanks for making an effort because you’re the only one who’s been making an effort on providing school funding from that office since Ed Rendell.'”

Kenney later added that he would never “browbeat or try to shame a public official into doing anything,” and would keep those conversations private.

Well, at least he didn’t give us the “there’s no superman from Harrisburg” line again from the primary. 

If Republican candidate Melissa Murray Bailey was disappointed not to get the Democratic governor’s endorsement, she didn’t say as much in a press release.

But at 3:45 p.m. on the dot (the time the endorsement event was set to begin), Philadelphia’s Republican City Committee shot out a release condemning Wolf and Kenney’s support for various tax increases — or, as executive director Joseph DeFelice put it, “their love for taking our hard-earned dollars and spending on what they think we need.”

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