Mayor Jim Kenney doesn’t have a favorite among the two dozen Democrats running for president in 2020, but he does have some hot takes about the front runners.
Kenney, for instance, hasn’t been encouraged by the current leader in the polls, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I really like him. I do think he has had some missteps lately. I think he can be out of touch a little bit,” Kenney said Wednesday.
California Sen. Kamala Harris, who moved up in the polls after targeting Biden in the first round of debates? “I was impressed with Kamala Harris. At that debate, I think she did a terrific job.”
Perhaps surprisingly, Philly’s progressive mayor isn’t in love with Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind., Vt.), whose 2016 presidential run set the party on a leftward heading. “Not as much a Bernie fan, I don’t think. I think he yells too much."
But it turns out Kenney’s reasoning might be partially colored by personal, not political, motivations: Sanders in 2016 publicly opposed the mayor’s signature accomplishment, the soda tax.
“Put it this way. If Bernie were the nominee, I’d vote for him against Trump. But he formally opposed our beverage tax, which was not necessary to do. So that was kind of gratuitous.”
Kenney did, however, offer praise for the other liberal firebrand among the front runners, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. He also wondered aloud what it would be like for her to face Trump on the debate stage.
“Warren’s impressive," he said. "I don’t know if she’s the right person to tangle with Trump. Maybe she is. She’s certainly not afraid to speak up, and she may be a good alternative to him.”
As for his brother in mayoralty, Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., Kenney sounded impressed but unconvinced of his chances.
“I like Pete," Kenney said. "I don’t know if he can win, but I think he’s smart, and he certainly has the right profile. I mean, he was an Afghanistan veteran, in the field in combat. He speaks, what, four, five languages. Smart guy.”
Kenney wouldn’t say whether he thought the nominee should come from the liberal wing of the party or from the middle. But he did say that the party’s leftward lurch might not be a bad thing in November.
“The problem is the centrist might not appeal to the Democratic electorate in the primary,” he said. “It seems to be going more progressive and more left, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to lose to Trump because a lot of centrist people realize that Trump is a fraud and didn’t do anything he said he was going to do.”
Staff writer Julia Terruso contributed to this article.