Two City Council members are iffy on seeking reelection while the other 15 are all in | Clout
Clout polls Philly City Council members on reelection plans, recounts the wire former Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore wore to record former Mayor W. Wilson Goode Jr., and talks to campaign commercial pro Saul Shorr about shutting down his firm.
As you may have heard — because Clout has been all over it — the 2019 Democratic primary elections for City Council in Philadelphia could very well bust a 40-year record for the number of candidates on the ballot.
Some in that stampede may be bolstered by super PACs spending exorbitant amounts of money, unhindered by the city's campaign-finance limits.
So we wondered: Will Council's 17 incumbents all seek reelection?
Two Democrats holding at-large seats — Bill Greenlee and Helen Gym — were iffy when we asked Thursday.
"To be determined," said Greenlee, who has been rumored to be on the cusp of retiring from the seat he has held since 2006. "Sometimes you like to keep people guessing."
The response from Gym, in her first term, was more surprising.
"I don't know," she said. "I'm trying to get through this week and then we'll see."
The other members — 12 Democrats and three Republicans — said they each want another term. Council's two longest-serving veterans are all in.
Councilman Brian O'Neill, an incumbent for four decades, declared "I only announce when I'm not" seeking reelection. O'Neill, a Republican who may face a Democratic challenge for the 10th District seat from Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, was first elected in 1979.
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, a Democrat who first took office in the Third District in 1991, said age was her motivating factor. "I'm so old now, I've got to keep it going," she said. (She is 73.)
Wearing a wire on W. Wilson Goode Sr.
One of the more surprising details to emerge in the federal probe of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady's 2012 primary campaign against Jimmie Moore is the role former Philadelphia Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr. played in arranging Moore's exit from the race.
Moore, a former Municipal Court judge, pleaded guilty last year to accepting what federal prosecutors have described as an illegal $90,000 payoff from Brady to drop out.
Though authorities did not charge Brady with a crime, they did indict his top political strategist – Ken Smukler – who has been fighting the case all month.
Smukler's trial has made clear there's no love lost between Brady and Moore. One Brady aide told jurors this week he thought Moore was "a clown."
But the one thing both sides seem to agree on is their mutual admiration of Goode.
Smukler, testifying earlier this week, said no one in Philadelphia politics owed the former mayor more than he did. (Smukler's first job in politics was as a 25-year-old press secretary for Goode's 1987 reelection campaign.)
Brady also credits Goode's support for launching his congressional career in 1998. And had Goode not arranged the 2012 meeting between Brady and Moore — or guaranteed the $90,0000 deal they cemented – the campaign rivals never would have agreed to it on their own, Smukler said.
For his part, Moore, too, says he only agreed to sit down with Brady because Goode was involved. He described the former mayor as his political mentor and "a father figure."
Still, that didn't stop Moore from agreeing to wear a wire on his surrogate pop when the FBI came knocking on his door last year.
Testifying last week, Moore admitted to the jury that he tried to entrap Goode on tape as part of his cooperation deal with the government. The details of their conversation remain under wraps and agents in court never described what they hoped to find.
Goode, who has not been accused of wrongdoing, declined to comment Thursday about Moore – except to say: "I was very disappointed when I learned that."
So long, Saul Shorr?
Saul Shorr, the crackerjack political commercial creator, surprised a few people Tuesday when he announced that his firm, Shorr Johnson Magnus, is closing at the end of the year. The firm did national work from its Philly headquarters.
An iconic example — "Stage," a devastating look at 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's business experience. The ad featured an Indiana paper-plant worker telling how he was ordered to help build the stage that executives from Romney's firm used to announce that everyone there was fired.
The firm also just helped Gov. Wolf and Sen. Bob Casey win reelection in Pennsylvania by double-digit margins.
Going out on top? Just as the 2020 presidential race gets underway?
Shorr, 64, said he will still collaborate with partners Andrea Johnson and Adam Magnus on projects. And he reminded Clout that he famously turned down Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign work four years ago.
"I turned down Hillary in December 2014 when she had a 95 percent chance of being the nominee and a 65 percent chance of being elected president," Shorr said. "I think I've proven I don't have a jones for this."
Still, Shorr said never say never. And he plans to keep working for the nine Democratic senators and the various political action committees who use his commercials.
In all, Shorr seems most proud of avoiding television punditry, running a firm with almost no internet footprint and rarely showing up at the office.
"At least I did it my way," he said. "I work mostly out of my house in sweatpants. I do calls in good weather from my hammock. And I have no website."
Clout bonus: A caption contest
We've again entered that season, when Mayor Kenney dons the green coat, pulls up the gold tights, and takes a turn on stage as "Buddy the elf." Yes, it is disturbing in that can't-look-away sort of way. But we deal with it. Maybe it made us more prepared for Gritty?
Still, this picture of City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson with the Grinch this week is something. It calls out for a caption. Send your finest effort to email@example.com.