What Are You Complaining About?

The Democratic primary election was one of the most accessible to the average citizen in recent history. So quit trying to entice an Independent candidate to run and start holding the Republican accountable.

What Are You Complaining About?

The Democratic primary election was one of the most accessible to the average citizen in recent history. So quit trying to entice an Independent candidate to run and start holding the Republican accountable.

Editor’s Note: Noted political consultant Neil Oxman sent the following email to Citizen editor Larry Platt in reaction to Platt’s Run, Bill, Run column last week. The subject line was: “You’re A Pea Brain.”

I respectfully disagree with your editorial in your last edition of The Citizen.

First, when I said that this election was about nothing I was referring to the fact that previous Mayoral elections have been referenda on something that was part of the dynamic that was in the air or that one of the political campaigns made it about. Michael Nutter’s campaign in 2007 became a referendum on who would be least like John Street. Sam Katz’s campaign in 1999 was a race about who would be most like Ed Rendell. Ed Rendell’s campaign in 1991 was largely about his standing up and predicting what would happen after the 1987 election. And Wilson Goode’s election in 1983 was largely about moving the city in a different direction and putting Philadelphians back to work.


My quote referred to the fact that the Democratic primary for Mayor was not about crime or jobs or schools. It was largely a marketing exercise highlighting Jim Kenney’s record and his accomplishments, plans and support during his years on City Council.

At the Pen and Pencil Club the night after the Mayoral primary a number of reporters quoted the same figure. That number was 87. 87 Mayoral forums this winter and spring. One a night for three months. Most of the candidates attended the overwhelming majority of them and if they didn’t it was often because more than one was scheduled a night. That and the combined coverage of the Inquirer, Daily News, WHYY, and Philadelphia magazine—in my opinion—made this one of the most covered Mayoral races combined with one of the most accessible to the average citizen.

I know the press is upset because there is very little to cover this fall and they are looking to try to persuade someone to run as an independent candidate to make the election more exciting. It’s hard for me to understand what that’s all about. Jim Kenney won 57 percent of the vote in a six-way field (something Ed Rendell and John Street and Michael Nutter failed to do in any of their real contested primaries.) He did it being outspent by a combined 2:1 if you add in the Independent Expenditures (as a matter of full disclosure I did one of the IEs that helped Kenney).

In years before 2007, voters did not remotely have the access to candidates like they did this year. If you look at past schedules of Mayoral candidates many nights they would go to Democratic Ward meetings (sometimes 2, 3 or 4 in a night), which were closed to anyone who wasn’t a Democratic committee person.

I think Democratic primary voters this year had unprecedented access to the candidates—in every corner of the city. And I think the press did a remarkable job covering this campaign on more than a daily basis given what “new media” does.

If you want an exciting General Election why don’t you hold the Republican candidate accountable? She’s been the uncontested Republican nominee since the filing date in March. If I were doing her campaign I would have had her show up at every single one of those forums. Every one. The election is 20 weeks away. Has she put out anything about what she wants to do with city government?

Larry, why don’t you hold the Republican party responsible for running a real campaign for the next 20 weeks (or the 30-some weeks between the uncontested filing day) instead of complaining about the lack of a dialogue?

Finally, if Republican and independent voters want to take part in the process they can always register as Democrats in the primary and have their say and then re-register in the General Election. Given how easy that is to do now there should be no complaints about what happened this spring or how boring the General Election might be.

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