Jim Kenney isn't mayor.

Not yet.

Nor is he mayor-elect.

Not yet.

But you wouldn't know it in this year's mayoral race – one in which the mainstream media has already coronated Jim Kenney as Philadelphia's 99th mayor – calling him everything from Mayor Kenney to Mayor-Elect Kenney to Presumptive Mayor Kenney. The list goes on.

The media's behavior during Election 2015 brought back memories of Arizona Cardinals' coach Dennis Green's post-game meltdown back in 2006, when he told the media about the Chicago Bears, "If you wanna crown 'em, then crown their ass."

No fault of Kenney's, the Philly media has crowned his ass.

To be clear, Jim Kenney deserves none of the blame on this one. In fact, he deserves a lot of credit for continuing to campaign fiercely and not giving credence – at least publicly – to the idea that the election in November is just a formality.

"We're running a competitive race here; but to really tackle Philadelphia's challenges, winning in November isn't enough. We need solutions at hand to hit the ground running if we do," Kenney wrote in a posting yesterday on his campaign Website.

Kenney has made many respectful comments about his current sole opponent, Republican Melissa Murray Bailey. Daily News reporter Wendy Ruderman is one of the few journalists who accurately captured Kenney's position, quoting the Democratic mayoral nominee as saying, "We certainly have an election to run and a very good candidate running on the Republican ticket. She's smart and works hard. We're going to respect the process and respect that candidate."

And surprisingly, Mayor Nutter is taking the high road, as well. After seeing a report that Nutter met with Kenney after his landslide victory, I decided to contact Nutter to see if he would extend the same courtesy to Bailey – a request that Bailey told me she made after meeting Nutter for the first time, a few days after the election at a Mural Arts Program event.

"I introduced myself to him at the Wall Ball. He said, 'Hi,' and said he'd take me up on my offer to meet. He asked for my phone number."

Nutter spokesperson Desiree Peterkin Bell confirmed via an email that a one-on-one would be taking place indicating "the mayor did call her to offer the meeting and let her know his office would call her back to set it up. A call was made to her number and a message was left by our office. We are waiting for a response from her. Mayor is expecting to meet with her."

Bailey told me yesterday that she'll be meeting with Nutter this Tuesday afternoon.

My hat's off to Mayor Nutter.

So with both the Democratic nominee and the current Democratic mayor acting like total gentlemen, what's the problem?

Part of it, no doubt, is the lack of hard-hitting stories on both of the challengers. When papers are putting out puff pieces on what the losing Democratic candidates wore during the primary after the primary is already over, you know there's something rotten in Philly.

Why on earth should anyone show up at the polls when newspapers are calling Jim Kenney the "Mayor-Elect?"

That's exactly how the Philadelphia Public Record referred to Kenney. I called its publisher, former City Councilman Jimmy Tayoun, to find out why they elevated Kenney to the Mayor-Elect already.

Tayoun's emailed reponse:

"Considering seven-to-one ratio of Democrats to Republicans and the tendency in most elections for at least 75% from each party voting as they are registered, considering fact Kenney continues to attend functions as though those hosting those events consider him to be mayor elect, considering fact he will put up substantial ads on TV if necessary if polls indicate there is a need, with the last consideration we have yet to receive a news release or event happening from the Republican candidate since her election as GOP mayoral candidate. Our use of Mayor–elect was to show his election is inevitable, unless he commits an action that would cause him to lose considerable support."

One veteran journalist, Dave Davies of WHYY, sent out a tweet about "Philly's mostly -mayor-elect Jim Kenney."

That begged the question, "What exactly is a mostly–mayor-elect?"

Davies, one of the best, brightest and fairest political reporters this city has ever seen, emailed me back his justification.

"The 60 seconds I spent composing that tweet are long gone, but I imagine that I wanted to refer to Kenney as the guy who will be the next mayor, but calling him mayor-elect would be technically incorrect. Thus, the made-up term "mostly mayor-elect."

I then asked Davies why he ignored mentioning Bailey in his column on Kenney's primary victory. Here's his response:

"The piece was about why Kenney won the Democratic primary, so there was no particular reason to mention the Republican candidate. The reference to Green came at the end, and I threw that in because there had been some discussion of an independent Green candidacy and I'd spoken to him, so I thought it should be addressed, however briefly.

"We have devoted some coverage at WHYY to Melissa Murray-Bailey, and will do more as the fall race unfolds. But at a time when reporting time is precious, we're going to focus on races that are contested. She was unopposed in the primary.

"To get at your underlying point, I've covered a lot of mayoral elections here, and Republicans have been competitive when they've found a candidate with political experience, name recognition, and independent fundraising capacity. Clearly Republican leaders hoped to recruit such a candidate this time and didn't. Ms. Murray-Bailey may be very worthy candidate who will do a great job of carrying the party's banner this fall, but I stand by my judgment that, barring some kind of disaster on the Democratic side, Kenney will be the next mayor. That doesn't mean we won't cover the mayor's race this fall."

Davies was honest. Can't say that about many reporters who refused to even talk to U-Turn about their coverage – or lack thereof – of the general election.

When Philadelphians don't vote because they perceive an election to be over, they can't complain when they end up with representatives that they didn't vote for. When we have a City Commissioner Chair who didn't vote in five consecutive elections still turn out a commanding victory in his primary race for reelection, that says everything about the state of affairs in Philadelphia politics.


The mayoral election is just beginning, even though many of the journalists have already called it – using biased language that sends a message to the voters that their vote doesn't matter.

Republican Bailey agrees. "It's disappointing because the media shapes how people think and is "shorting them of that opportunity."

Yet, Bailey seems optimistic. "Voters deserve to hear from both of us so they can see what they are choosing between. I may have to shake some trees."

Contact John Featherman at john@featherman.com