Saturday, December 9, 2006

Take a Break. Read About Philly Mayoral Politics

Inquirer City Hall chief Marcia Gelbart guest stars in this spot with a dispatch from Pennsylvania Society on the mayor's race:

Three of the Men Who Want to be Mayor - and The One Who Doesn't - made their debuts Friday on the streets of New York.

There was businessman Tom Knox, bebopping around many an affair, his wife Linda in tow. Drinking a light beer at the ESPN Zone, he talked about two new 48-by-24-foot billboards put up by his campaign Thursday on Interstate 95. Then later, at a bash thrown by Blank Rome lawyers at the Hotel Inter-Continental on East 48th Street, Knox talked about his choices for mayor next year. "If it wasn't for me," he said, standing next to former City Councilman Michael Nutter, "I'd vote for him."

As for Nutter, he may be the only one of the candidates for mayor here to take the time and opportunity to raise some campaign cash, hosting a private roundtable Friday afternoon for those willing to fork over $250 for his cause. Later, Nutter also took part in one of the stranger events so far: At the Hotel Benjamin on East 50th Street, he was saluted for his City Council leadership by the very Republican Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry - the same group that last year honored one Rick Santorum. Praising Democrat Nutter's efforts in expanding the Convention Center, eliminating smoking in Philly bars and reducing the city wage tax, Rob Powelson, president and CEO of the chamber group said: "He's given up a lot to leave City Council. You're in a mayoral primary - there are no guarantees."

Last but hardlly least among the trio of officially declared mayoral candidates was U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. Eyewitness accounts put Fattah in New York nearly the entire day Friday - at the Waldorf lobby about 10 a.m. and then again at 2:30 p.m., and at the rock-n-roll party thrown by labor leader John J. Dougherty's electricians' union, again at the Waldorf, about 9:30 p.m. Point being: If Fattah was in New York all day, he certainly wasn't in D.C., where his colleagues were casting over 20 votes - incuding one to keep the federal government from shutting down - on what was expected to be the last day before the House adjourns.

One of those Fattah colleagues, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, is expected to make it to Manhattan mid-Saturday morning - depending on how late into the wee hours the House went Friday night.

Back to Dougherty. Those familiar elect-Dougherty-mayor-in-2007 flyers made appearances outside the ESPN Zone reception - but Dougherty didn't. Despite the party hosted by his union, Local 98 political director Bobby Henon reported that Doc stayed back in Philly to care for his mother, who has been in the hospital with emphysema for the last two weeks.

Now, for The One Who Doesn't want to be Philadephia's mayor next year. Jonathan Saidel, after quitting the race last Sunday, was sighted by many yesterday - but said very little. Here's what a conversation with him was like inside the Bull and the Bear bar at the Waldorf.

MG: So what are you going to do now?
JS: I really don't know what I'm going to do.

MG: Will you endorse anyone for mayor?
JS: I don't know.

MG: What will you do with the $1.2 million you raised for your campaign?
JS: I don't know.

MG: Your friend Bob Brady said you didn't return his phone call.
JS: I've been busy.

MG: Will you run for another elected office sometime?
JS: I might.

MG: Do you regret quitting the race?
JS: I don't think in regretful terms.


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