I don’t recall a mayoral election in which I was undecided just days before Election Day.
Can this Rebecca Rhynhart (left) beat that Helen Gym (right)?
I usually vote for the person I like best, irrespective of their “electability” or political party.
Not this year.
This year we have a candidate even crazier and more dangerous than Milton Street, who never had a chance of being elected mayor.
This year we have Helen Gym, who has a good chance to win, and the word circulating among traditional and moderately progressive Democrats is ABG — Anyone But Gym. She has done the near impossible and unified the fractious Democratic Party, against her.
Most Philadelphia Democrats are “progressive,” but only a minority are radical progressive, the kind who are lining up behind the bantam and argumentative Gym, whose actions should eliminate her as a serious candidate.
But they haven’t, among her slavishly devoted followers, who are almost as much a personality cult as MAGA Trumpsters.They don’t care what she does as long as she scratches their Woke itch. They have a million ideas of things they want to do and not a single idea of how to pay for them. Except maybe raise taxes in America’s poorest big city, which is a guaranteed fail. And Philadelphia is poor, Gym has said more than once, is a matter of deliberate policy. Is she condemning her own party?
As with Trump, who won the 2016 nomination because his opponents splintered the anti-Trump vote, Gym could win because the ABG vote is split among Jeff Brown, Allan Domb, Cherelle Parker, and Rebecca Rhynhart.
I’ve already asked the seriously trailing (and politically damaged) Brown to drop out and throw his support to one of the anti-Gym front-runners, which seem like Parker and Rhynhart.
If I had a free choice, I would vote for Domb, but I don’t think he has the Election Day firepower to beat Gym. And keeping Gym out of the Mayor’s office is my chief priority.
She is uniquely unqualified by temperament to be mayor. And yet she could be.
All the following is based on my own gut, plus interviews with a dozen politicians and political analysts.
The path to a Gym victory is threefold.
First is turnout, which the pros say will be low, maybe less than 30%, despite the tightness of the race and that more than $30 million has been spent on it, a Philly record.
The Gym cult, or the Gym rats as I call them, are highly motivated acolytes. With them, Leftism is a religion. They will turn out to vote for her and many already have, by mail, according to the Committee of Seventy poll.
Black turnout has been falling in recent years. Not a lot, maybe, but enough. Parker needs to reverse that trend. She may be able to do that, as an “historic” Black woman candidate for mayor.
Second is GOTV — Get Out The Vote. The Gym Rats promise they will
annoy knock on the doors of 300,000 voters. You know they are in the field because two Gym canvassers got into a deadly shootout.
Gym’s chief rival, Rhynhart, battles her for the white, Center City, college-educated progressive crowd. But her three mayoral endorsements won’t GOTV, nor will her Inquirer endorsement, ditto a handful of Wards which have endorsed her. She is qualified in my book, but she has no Election Day army that I can see.
The only major endorsement Domb has is former Mayor Bill Green. His GOTV effort — mostly in the Northeast and South Philly — will have to be bought.
Jeff Brown has several unions who will help, but the Sanitation workers de-endorsed him after Brown complained about too much trash on city streets. Several unforced errors, and lying that an Ethic Board issue with him has been settled, hurt him a lot.
That leaves former Councilwoman (and former State Rep) Cherelle Parker, who has the Building Trades and Electricians unions, both with deep pockets and many Election Day volunteers, plus endorsement from a half-dozen working politicians.
Finally, the numbers.
In the 2019 election, Gym had more than 200,000 votes, leading all other Council candidates.
That’s frightening, because 60,000 votes could win on Tuesday. But as a wise man told me, Gym won in 2019 with the backing of the powerful, mostly African-American Northwest Coalition, which she does not have this time.
This year, the Coalition was split — until former Councilman Derek Green dropped out and threw his support to Parker. It is rich in votes and hostile to Gym.
The majority of the pols I spoke to see the race being mostly between Rhynhart and Parker, with Gym falling back to third or fourth place. Since none of them endorsed Gym, I take that to be at least wishful thinking.
Most see turnout — especially Black turnout — as the key.
Once upon a time there was a lot of cohesion in the Black community, but the endorsement of a white candidate, Rhynhart, by two Black former mayors shows Philly may be out of that box.
That’s good news.
Unless it leads to a Gym victory.
As I said at the top, I usually vote for the person I like best.
Not this time.
From all the tea leaves and chicken gizzards I can read, I believe Cherelle Parker has the best chance of beating Gym.
For that reason, I will vote for her to become Philly’s 100th mayor, even though she is not my first choice.
To stop the threat of civic Gymicide, my vote goes to Cherelle Parker.