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Inquirer endorses Rebecca Rhynhart for mayor as Cherelle Parker wins backing from elected Democrats

The Editorial Board of the city’s largest news organization endorsed former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, who is also backed by two former mayors.

Sister Taleah Taylor (left), president of the City of Dreams Coalition, and Rebecca Rhynhart (center), shown here after Rhynhart announced her run for mayor on Oct. 25, 2022.
Sister Taleah Taylor (left), president of the City of Dreams Coalition, and Rebecca Rhynhart (center), shown here after Rhynhart announced her run for mayor on Oct. 25, 2022.Read moreJessica Griffin / Staff Photographer

The Editorial Board of The Philadelphia Inquirer has endorsed Rebecca Rhynhart for mayor, picking the former city controller over 10 other Democrats.

In an editorial published Saturday, the board — which operates separately from The Inquirer newsroom — wrote that Rhynhart “has the experience, independence, vision, and temperament needed to unite a diverse city and address the systemic problems of crime, schools, taxes, and poverty that have long plagued Philadelphia.”

In a statement Saturday, Rhynhart said it was an “honor” to receive the endorsement.

“Right now, we face a critical turning point that calls for bold, courageous leadership,” she said. “I ran for Controller against the status quo in 2017 because I wanted to be an independent voice for Philadelphia residents, and that’s how I will lead as mayor.”

The backing provides another high-profile endorsement for Rhynhart, who is also endorsed by two former mayors: John F. Street and Michael A. Nutter, the latter of whom hired Rhynhart to work in his administration.

It also comes as coalitions are forming around other candidates. A handful of elected Democrats and ward leaders this week began coalescing around former City Councilmember Cherelle Parker, who earned an endorsement from State Sen. Vincent Hughes, a longtime lawmaker who himself considered a bid for mayor.

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Parker — who is being supported by several labor unions, including the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council — will also be backed by State Sen. Sharif Street, the head of the state Democratic Party, as well as a half-dozen other state elected officials and 10 Northeast Philadelphia ward leaders.

Grocer Jeff Brown has also won endorsements from several labor unions, and former City Councilmember Helen Gym is backed by the teachers’ union and a coalition of progressive organizations.

Endorsements from news organizations and individual elected officials can provide a boost to candidates, especially in a crowded field with no clear front-runner.

Larry Ceisler, a public affairs executive and longtime political observer, said candidates seek endorsements from constituencies who vote and from groups willing to knock on doors or help on a campaign. Short of that, he said, endorsements become “validators” that campaigns use in advertising.

“It helps from a validation standpoint that the voter is not out there by themselves,” he said. “For instance, if you like Vince Hughes or Sharif Street, you say, ‘Well, they’re for Cherelle Parker and, short of any compelling reason for me to be against Cherelle Parker, that works for me.’”

Political communications strategist Mustafa Rashed said despite the prevalence of social media and other forms of communication, The Inquirer’s endorsement remains “coveted” today.

“Anyone who tries to downplay it would happily have taken it,” he said.

In 2015, the last time there was a competitive Democratic primary for mayor, The Inquirer endorsed State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, who lost to Jim Kenney. In 2007, The Inquirer endorsed Nutter, who served two terms as mayor.

Rashed said Rhynhart is appearing to be increasingly well-positioned ahead of the May 16 primary election, though there has been no public, independent polling.

“She’s been running a quiet, not splashy, but effective campaign,” Rashed said. “Rebecca has positioned herself to take advantage of others’ missteps and consolidate support. She’s made no mistakes.”

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The Editorial Board, which interviewed nine candidates, wrote that Rhynhart is “on the side of taxpayers, not insiders,” saying that while she worked in city government, she’s not part of the “outmoded Democratic machine.”

Rhynhart served in Nutter’s administration as city treasurer and budget director, then briefly worked in Kenney’s administration as chief administrative officer before running in 2017 for city controller.

The board wrote that it was also impressed by Parker, saying she has “the grit and passion to go with a record of accomplishment,” and Allan Domb, a former City Council member the board said has “some of the most detailed plans to improve the city.”