Feb 22, 2023 - Politics

Philadelphia mayoral candidate set to receive game-changing endorsement

Illustration of Philadelphia city hall over a divided red and blue background with elements of ballots.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Philadelphia Building Trades Council is expected to endorse Democrat Cherelle Parker for mayor, per the Inquirer and KYW.

Why it matters: The backing from the council, a coalition of dozens of regional unions, is highly prized and will likely bring a windfall of funding and support leading up to the May primary and beyond.

State of play: At least eight Democrats are vying to become the city’s next mayor, including five former City Council members, a state legislator and a supermarket magnate.

What’s happening: The building trades council will make its endorsement this morning in its union hall in Northeast Philly.

Between the lines: The group’s pick “typically has been the most coveted endorsement in a mayoral primary,” signifying a wide-range of support from throughout the city, Mustafa Rashed, the president and CEO of lobbying and communications firm Bellevue Strategies, tells Axios.

  • The building trades council has never endorsed a female candidate for mayor.

The intrigue: It remains to be seen whether the group’s vote among its membership will be unanimous, per the Inquirer.

Zoom out: Several other high-profile unions and groups are putting their money behind Democratic candidates.

Between the lines: Unlike candidates, the building trades council’s super PAC can accept and spend unlimited funds as long as they don’t coordinate with campaigns.

Flashback: The group backed Mayor Jim Kenney for both of his successful runs for mayor in 2015 and 2019.

Of note: The Democratic winner of the May primary typically goes on to win the November election as registered Democrats far outnumber Republicans.

Zoom in: Parker is a former City Council member and a member of the powerful Northwest Coalition, a group of African-American political leaders who generate high voter turnout in their wards.

What they’re saying: Aren Platt, a spokesperson for Parker’s campaign, told Axios the campaign is “really respectful of their process” and declined additional comment.

  • Frank Keel, a spokesperson for the trades council, declined to comment.

Jay McCalla, a former city deputy managing director and political insider, tells Axios the council has been a savvy, well-funded and experienced political operation — under previous leadership.

  • Yes, but: Much is also at stake for Ryan Boyer, the business manager for trades council, in the council’s endorsement, who is making his first mayoral endorsement as head of the group, McCalla said.
  • “The members of the building trades are used to having power and if Ryan loses them by … endorsing the wrong candidate, then he has a problem,” McCalla said.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Philadelphia stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more