WHAT DO ALL THESE ELECTION RESULTS MEAN?
HECK IF WE KNOW, BUT PLENTY OF MYSTERIES TO BE SOLVED
IT'S A NEW DAY. A new chapter for Philadelphia. Tuesday's election ushered in a new era of reform. We threw the bums out.
Those are the words to the song we're all singing today. The proof that it's true, though, is not just in a single thing, the Nutter victory, but in all the morning-after questions and puzzles left behind like so much confetti and streamers.
If things were business as usual, after all, we'd be able to make sense of what happened during this election. Such as: Carol Campbell loses. Donna Reed Miller doesn't. Discuss.
Or this one: Milton Street gets 10,000 votes. About half of what Dwight Evans got.
A few of this campaign's obvious puzzles were succinctly wrapped up in our "The Next Mayor" blog (thenextmayor.com):
"In this election, the guy with the name recognition did not win. The guy with the money did not win. The guy with the union and machine backing did not win. From the beginning, this was a different kind of election for Philadelphia, and that was true to the end."
Here's what we want to know: Why didn't the guy with name recognition win? How did the guy who spent $10 million manage to get 70,000 votes? Are voters honestly swayed by TV ads and free spaghetti?
And why couldn't Bob Brady win his own ward? At what moment did the machine stop working?
And is the city's black political machine facing the same fate? (More on the race issue: Page 21.)
Another mystery: Why, in an election with more public forums than anytime in modern civilization, and more energetic public discussion of issues, did this not translate into more voters at the polls?
The "reform government" we all think we got was not born yesterday or even last year.
We've been getting comfortable with the word "reform" for more than a decade, when Bill Clinton signed the historic welfare-reform bill. Around the same time, closer to home, David Hornbeck was building the case for education reform. We date the most current reform movement to 2001, when then Controller Jonathan Saidel issued his "Tax Structure Analysis Report" that laid the foundation for tax reform. A few years later, a few indictments around City Hall laid the groundwork for ethics reform.
Here's a question: If reform has been germinating in Philadelphia for six years, isn't it too old be considered "reform?
This election, ostensibly a referendum on change, produced one of the most perplexing back-to-the-future results in the political history of this tradition-bound city.
At the same time that we elected a man symoblizing a new era, we elected to City Council three sons of ex-mayors, including one who's lived outside the city for most of his adult life. Of course, those three "sons of" won office in a year when a "daughter of" may have turned the tide for her dad.
Olivia Nutter's guileless charm gave us a glimpse of the human being who may be hiding behind the mostly mirthless mask that has been Michael Nutter's public persona for the last 14 years. (Lisa, the "wife of," didn't hurt either, especially when she gave her husband a "my boo" shout-out.)
For three centuries, we've had an unbroken string of "sons of" running for mayor. Looking for a change? How about "daughter of"?
Now, there's one that's long overdue. *