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Butkovitz drops plans to run for mayor; Clarke is undecided

The City Controller wanted to know what the Council president would do before announcing for mayor.

Alan Butkovitz, the incumbent City Controller. (Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer)
Alan Butkovitz, the incumbent City Controller. (Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer)Read more

ALAN BUTKOVITZ won't run for mayor next year, he said yesterday.

The city controller, who has been planning a 2015 campaign since last year, appears to have been frozen out of the field by City Council President Darrell Clarke, who so far has not stated his intentions for the mayor's race.

Clarke continued that silence yesterday. A spokeswoman said he was unavailable to discuss the race or Butkovitz's decision.

Butkovitz has said for months that he would not run for mayor if Clarke sought that office.

"I know how to read the tea leaves and I know how to understand the way things are getting organized," he said. "They're not coming together for me. They're coming together at the moment in a kind of chaotic pattern."

Butkovitz met with Clarke three times last week to discuss the race, but said he does not know if Clarke will run for mayor.

Clarke has been in a political sweet spot for months, holding fundraisers at which he collects cash from crowds of people urging him to run.

That fundraising, which does not have to be tallied in public until an annual campaign-finance report due Feb. 2, might give Clarke the resources to run for mayor or to support another candidate.

Butkovitz said he would endorse Clarke if he runs.

"There's no question there's a lot of wait-and-see about what the field is going to look like," Butkovitz said. "My view of the time line [for a campaign] is it really has to be underway by November of the preceding year."

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic Party chairman, said that Butkovitz called him yesterday to explain his decision.

"Darrell just wouldn't let him know what he was doing, one way or another," Brady said of Clarke.

Brady, like everyone else in the city, is waiting on Clarke now.

"He told me he would tell me when he decides what to do," Brady said.

John Dougherty, business manager for Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, supported both Clarke and Butkovitz in past campaigns.

Dougherty said internal polling shows "undecided" still leading the pack for mayor next year.

"Because of that, Darrell Clarke can sit back and watch," Dougherty said. "He doesn't have to move quickly."

State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams and former District Attorney Lynne Abraham are due to announce their candidacies tomorrow. Butkovitz said that had no impact on his decision because he had anticipated running against Williams and Abraham.

Butkovitz said he is unlikely to change his mind about the mayor's race. He declined to say if he would enter the race if Clarke announced soon that he is not running.

"I can't tell what other people will do," Butkovitz said. "I've won 11 elections in my career. I've won three citywide elections. I know what has to be done and when it has to be done to win."

Butkovitz is serving the first year of his third four-year term as controller. Before that, he was a state representative in Northeast Philly.

Former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo and Terry Gillen, a former top staffer to Mayor Nutter, have already entered the Democratic primary. Former City Solicitor Nelson Diaz and former state Sen. T. Milton Street Sr. have said they intend to run.

Doug Oliver, a PGW spokesman and former press secretary for Nutter, is announcing this morning an exploratory committee for mayor. Oliver, who has flirted with the city's Republican Party about a candidacy, was silent on the question of political parties when announcing the committee.

Councilman Jim Kenney, former City Controller Jonathan Saidel and former Republican Councilman Frank Rizzo, now a Democrat, also are considering primary campaigns for mayor.