This is the kind of person he is.
When running for reelection in 2019, Mayor Jim Kenney refused to debate Republican candidate Billy Ciangalini, basically sticking his thumb in the eye of critics who said he owed the concept of democracy a little show. In a city that hasn’t elected a Republican mayor in more than 70 years, he wasn’t in much danger from Ciangalini, who ran a barely there campaign. Kenney showed his contempt for political process.
And now rumors circulate that he may be interested in running for governor or U.S. Senate. I wonder a) why, and b) how can he possibly win?
I think Kenney ran for a second term because he didn’t have anything better to do. He ran for mayor in the first place on an impulse, when someone else dropped out, and, like a dog chasing a car, didn’t know what to do when he caught it.
I don’t think highly of him as a politician now — I was a big fan when he was a Councilman concerned with quality of life issues. I also don’t think much of him as a man — having turned his back on his wife, Maureen, his mentor, former State Sen. Vince Fumo, even members of the Jokers Mummers club, where he spent a couple of happy decades before he went to progressive reeducation camp, and learned his former friends were low-life racists.
He’s become a different man today, and seemingly not happy with what he has become.
Don’t take my word for it. Listen to fellow progressive Larry Platt, editor of the Public Citizen:
“Even before a once-in-a-lifetime plague and a racial conflagration rocked our city, Philadelphia had the dubious distinction of having America’s most sour-faced mayor,” Platt wrote.
“Jim Kenney would advertise to complete strangers in bars just how much he hated his job, and even other mayors would shake their heads at his antisocial ways; when a group of them descended on Philly to share notes on best practices, not only did Kenney refrain from joining them, he turned down their request for a guided tour of his city. (He offered to dispatch an aide to show them around, instead.)”
Call him Mr. Personality.
Here’s a thought: If you believe he really hates his job, as do I and Larry Platt, if he announces his candidacy for another post, he will have to resign as mayor, paving the way for City Council President Darrell Clarke, another genius, to become mayor.
It could be the reported political aspirations are just a way for Kenney to escape from Room 215 in City Hall.
But what if he actually wants to run for something else? What is Kenney’s legacy? What will he show to voters if he seeks the governor’s chair (could Kenney actually live in one-horse town Harrisburg?), or the Senate?
Well, there is the soda tax, which funds a lot of pre-K, but which is unpopular even among the people who benefit from it. Some 60% of Philadelphia voters oppose it.
So there’s that, his biggest deal.
His second-biggest deal? Reclaiming Philadelphia schools from state control. Some cheer local control, while others, such as former Mayor John Street, say it is a form of suicide because it absolves the state of its responsibility.
Another legacy? The Philadelphia homicide rate in 2020 was the second highest in history. His appointment of Danielle Outlaw as police commissioner is a bust, with neither he nor she having a clue about how to drive down the murder rate.
Philadelphia’s 24.5% poverty rate is the highest among America’s largest cities. Because of the city’s second-highest tax burden, behind only Bridgeport, Ct., the city finds it difficult to attract new business, but has attracted some new residents, many escaping the bedlam of New York.
Kenney also ended the city’s cooperation with ICE, and our sanctuary city status means foreign felons are safe in Philadelphia and are free to prey on us.
Oh — Kenney brags about the city’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement, showing while we lack domestic order, we have a foreign policy. Thermostats mean more than the murder rate.
These strange ideas did not stop him from getting elected in Philadelphia, with a 7-1 registration edge over Republicans, but Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by only 4.2 million to 3.5 million.
And many of those Democrats, outside the progressive southeast quadrant, are traditional, moderate Democrats, who might have trouble swallowing Kenney’s leftist ideas.
If Kenney were to run — for anything — he’d certainly face primary challengers and it’s hard to imagine anyone less politically palatable than he is.