State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams wanted to make one thing clear: The eight politicians he had gathered outside on a gusty, drizzly Thursday were not there because of James F. Kenney.
Williams, a Democrat running for mayor, insisted he was not reacting to the news Monday that fellow candidate Kenney had been endorsed by a group of prominent African American elected officials and ward leaders known as the Northwest Coalition.
Kenney, who resigned from City Council in January to run in the May 19 Democratic primary election for mayor, is white. Williams, who is African American, said "turf wars" and "petty politics" are not driving him.
"So there's no reason for us to react," Williams said when asked about Kenney. "There is reason for other campaigns to react."
Williams was endorsed at his event by four Council members: Jannie L. Blackwell, Kenyatta Johnson, Maria Quiñones Sánchez, and Curtis Jones Jr. Two state senators, Shirley Kitchen and Larry Farnese, and two state representatives, Jordan Harris and Jason Dawkins, also gave him their support.
The politicians - six African Americans, one white, one Latino - spoke outside the offices of WHYY, where Williams appeared for a candidates' forum. The public broadcaster seemed caught off guard by the scramble leading up to Williams' speaking on its doorstep.
Williams offered some media criticism about the mayor's race, suggesting Kenney has been cast as "the labor guy" while he is often cast as the "guy [who] is only going to win because he's African American."
"We're pushing back against that narrative today," Williams said.
So-called racial math - voters picking candidates by race - is a much discussed factor in the contest for mayor. There are three black candidates, two whites, and one Latino.
Kenney on Monday received a boost of support from the Northwest Coalition, including State Rep. Dwight Evans, Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco, State Rep. Cherelle L. Parker, and a half-dozen ward leaders.
Evans, speaking Monday, predicted a race won "block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood."
The Williams campaign on Thursday passed out to reporters maps of Philadelphia marking with black ink sections of the city represented by the politicians endorsing him. More than half the city was marked.
Much of Northwest Philadelphia was unmarked. It was left white on the map.