David Oh plans a workout on the Gym

This never-published column was written he night before the mayoral primary in fear of a Helen Gym victory. It would have been published Tuesday morning, once the margin of victory was announced. To my relief, there was no victory, but the observations remain true.

It’s not the outcome I wanted, but it is the outcome David Oh dreamed of: Helen Gym is the Democratic candidate for mayor, having received a slim WHAT PERCENT of the Democratic primary votes cast.

Republican David Oh (left) needs Democrats to beat Democrat Helen Gym

The progressive Gym triumphed because her four major opponents — all more-or-less moderates — split the Anyone But Helen vote. In essence, she followed the same path trod in 2016 by Donald J. Trump — have the moderates divide the sane vote, so the most radical can triumph.

Her progressive followers were electrified by the prospect of taking over yet another American city, following Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Seattle. Although they are a minority, they are zealots and turn out in numbers, and in a low-turnout election, that’s all it takes.

Like two trains barreling toward each other on a single track, many saw the disaster coming, but were powerless to stop it. If you are looking for someone to blame, that would be Jeff Brown. After a fast start fueled by TV commercials, his sugar-high lead dissolved under Allan Domb’s negative TV attack, and Brown slid to the bottom of the leader pack, running fifth. He should have seen the writing on the wall and thrown his support to another candidate, say Rebecca Rhynhart. If even half of his supporters voted for the former controller, she most likely would have won. 

Spilled milk. 

So now it is Republican David Oh versus Democrat Helen Gym, in an historic matchup of two Asian-Americans for the leadership of a major American city. This has never happened before.

What also hasn’t happened before is a Republican winning a Philadelphia mayoral race since 1947.

So it’s hopeless, right?


In 1999, Republican Sam Katz was 4/10 of a percentage point away from defeating Democrat John Street.

The turnout was relatively high — 45% — and of the total 415,044 votes cast, Street got 211,106 to Katz’s 203,908. 

Street won North, Central, West and Southwest Philly, Katz took the Northeast, Roxborough, South Philly, Center City and the River Wards.

David Oh is studying that map.

In a February interview, Oh told me he would do best against a candidate that is least like himself and later said Helen Gym is the “most different” candidate of all Dems running. That’s an understatement.

Clearly, Oh meant different politically, not ethnically. He got the opponent he wanted. 

Registration gives the Democrats a 7-1 edge over Republicans, but Oh believes he will get substantial financial and other support from centrist Democrats and independents because Gym is way too woke for them.

In reality, there is no path to victory without Democratic and independent votes.

Can Oh convince enough Ds to vote for him?

It won’t be easy because some Democrat blockheads loyalists will never vote for a Republican. My best friend is like that, and I remember a fellow dog walker, when I lived in South Philly, who said he couldn’t vote for Katz “because he’s an R.”

Mind closed. Case closed.

I am a Democrat but I have voted for Republicans. 

I chose Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter and never regretted it. I voted for Republican Arlan Specter for U.S. Senate and Thacher Longstreth for City Council and anyone not named Jim Kenney for mayor.

But I am not a typical Democrat. 

I sincerely believe Helen Gym would be a more woke and worse mayor than Kenney.

While the No. 1 issue favors Oh — he is very strong on crime and public safety (while Gym is not) — the numbers are tough to overcome.

Here’s a question: Are there enough turncoat independent-minded Democrats to vote for Oh, a moderate, and keep Philadelphia from becoming the next Chicago?

I am happily voting for Oh.

5 thoughts on “David Oh plans a workout on the Gym”

  1. I voted for Reagan in 1980 also. I have come to regret it VERY much, as his policies were a disaster for the middle class, as the past 40 years have proven.

  2. I am so glad you didn’t have to publish that column the day after the election.
    Imagine the site of gym and krasner holding press conferences together high fiving each other .
    I dont think we are out of the woods with gym. Shell come back in 8 yrs . We got lucky because apparently older center city progressives thought ryhhart was a progressive and voted for her .
    I hope gautier is ambitious enough to to run even if gym runs again in 8 yrs .
    But imagine if she won . Thered be no downtown businesses because theyd all have been looted to death until they closed and because landlords refused to rent out open homes due to her ” reforms ” then yiud have a huge increase in the homeless . It would have been a nightmare

  3. Gym & Krasner are a nightmare. Gym is not done, she is part of a national political movement. It was no accident that Bernie and AOC showed up in Philadelphia to support her primary bid for Mayor. She will be running for a new political office soon. So the centrist Democratic Office holders that have a State or Federal elected position should be prepared for her next run for office. Gym has money, election workers from the left wing of the Democratic Party along with supporters from the Working Peoples Party. I was hoping her loss in the Mayoral Primary was the end of her political aspirations. However, I believe she is reviewing her options and considering what is her best opportunity to win elective office. Gym is a political nightmare I can’t wake up from.

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