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A Philly ShopRite magnate goes shopping — for the mayor’s race | Clout

Jeff Brown, the outspoken owner of a chain of ShopRite grocery stores who made headlines opposing Mayor Jim Kenney’s soda tax, is eyeing a run for mayor.

Jeff Brown in Southwest Philadelphia at one of the ShopRite supermarkets he owns.
Jeff Brown in Southwest Philadelphia at one of the ShopRite supermarkets he owns.Read moreMiguel Martinez / File Photograph

Clout readers know there’s no shortage of candidates mulling a run for Philadelphia mayor in 2023, from City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart to about a third of City Council.

Add Jeff Brown to that list. The outspoken owner of a chain of ShopRite grocery stores, who made headlines while opposing Mayor Jim Kenney’s soda tax, is also eyeing the race.

The Philadelphia Tribune first reported Brown’s interest in running for mayor. Clout has learned Brown is talking to political consultant Doc Sweitzer about a potential run.

Sweitzer is the longtime business partner of Neil Oxman at the Campaign Group, which produced campaign ads for four of the last five winning mayoral candidates, going back to W. Wilson Goode Sr. Oxman, a professional golf caddie on the PGA tour, was behind those ads, but he isn’t doing as much politicking in Philadelphia these days. Sweitzer, who has worked on scores of campaigns across the country, is semiretired but willing to get back in the game for Brown.

Brown told Clout he and Sweitzer have been discussing the race, but declined to speak further about 2023 because he’s still in the exploratory phase.

“In my process in thinking about this, one of the people I would really rely on is Doc Sweitzer. I really trust him,” Brown said. “Down the line, if I ran for office, I’d have to have a team, and Doc would be on the very top of my list.”

Sweitzer was equally effusive about Brown.

“He’s beloved by his customers and community leaders, and he’s respected in the business community,” Sweitzer said of Brown.

» READ MORE: The money race between DA Larry Krasner and challenger Carlos Vega kicks into high gear | Clout

Brown would be an intriguing figure in the race, an outsider to government with potential appeal to wealthy donors in the business community as well as residents of low-income neighborhoods.

A fourth-generation grocer who lives near Rittenhouse Square, Brown has opened supermarkets in “food deserts” — low-income areas that lack access to affordable quality food options — and has prioritized hiring formerly incarcerated people.

Those efforts have won him plaudits from the Black clergy and leaders in some of Philadelphia’s poorest communities.

Brown ultimately lost the battle against Kenney’s tax on sweetened beverages, which pays for pre-kindergarten initiatives, community schools, and rec center and park revitalizations.

But if he succeeds Kenney, who cannot run for a third consecutive term, he’ll be in a good position to push for its repeal.

At the Trump Store, 2024 talk is good for business

Mike Domanico will spend Sunday hawking T-shirts and other merchandise at the Morgantown Gun Show in Berks County. But he’ll also be monitoring what former President Donald Trump has to say at the Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC, in Florida.

That speech could have a big impact on Domanico’s business, the Trump Store in Bensalem. Domanico, who has already created “Trump 2024″ merchandise, is hoping the ex-president declares his intentions to again seek the White House.

Business is still good, Domanico said, but Trump could really boost things.

“It’s nothing like it was before the election, lines out the door,” he said. “I’m hoping that him speaking on Sunday gets people all riled up again. The base is still there. Everyone is hoping he runs again.”

Count Domanico among the election-deniers, Trump fans who believe the former president’s false claims of a stolen election. He can’t understand why judge after judge, including many appointed by Trump, didn’t overturn the results.

Two Republican congressmen from Pennsylvania, Mike Kelly and Scott Perry, are also scheduled to speak at CPAC this weekend. They helped push misinformation about the 2020 results and then tried unsuccessfully to have Pennsylvania voters’ ballots cast aside.

Kelly will be speaking on a panel Sunday about “protecting elections.” As far as Clout can tell, that’s not supposed to be a joke.

New members for the little-known big-money board

An obscure board that manages $600 million in assets meant to be spent in the best interest of Philadelphians has two new members.

Attorney Charles Gibbs and City Councilmember Derek Green were elected to the Board of Directors of City Trusts last week by the Philadelphia Common Pleas Board of Judges. The judges selected from a list of 13 applicants.

Among those who didn’t get the nod: Philadelphia Register of Wills Tracey Gordon.

It took three rounds of voting by 77 of the 91 eligible judges for Gibbs to secure the seat held by former Register of Wills Ron Donatucci, who died in November. He bested Green in that round.

Green was then elected after two rounds of voting. He replaces former City Council President Anna Verna, who left the board last year. Green bested former state House Speaker Bob O’Donnell and real estate broker Barbara Capozzi.

Clout told you two weeks ago about the board’s enormous portfolio, and that nobody who currently held a seat there was willing to publicly discuss it. As we said then: big money, zero flash.

The board, established by state law in 1869, manages Girard College and Wills Eye Hospital along with 117 smaller trusts that dole out scholarships, help people with housing and heating costs, and other charitable matters.