Mar 22, 2023 - Politics

Philly primary races heat up

Campaign pins inside the city's Board of Elections Office in City Hall

The Board of Elections office in City Hall. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios

The city’s May 16 primary is kicking into high gear after ballot positions were chosen last week. Candidates are jockeying for attention and stepping up attacks on rivals.

  • Here's a cheat sheet to the biggest developments so far.

↘️ Competitive Council primary peters out

A heated Democratic race in the 3rd City Council district fizzled out this week when challenger Jabari Jones withdrew over legal challenges to his candidacy, per his statement on Twitter.

  • Jones was among dozens of candidates facing a ballot fight, whereby campaigns and rivals seek to bump off candidates over their paperwork.

Why it matters: Jones, president of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative, was considered the only viable candidate challenging incumbent City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, who took over the seat in 2020.

Jones tells Axios that voters mistakenly signed a petition using the wrong address and the legal challenge could have eliminated enough signatures to put him below the threshold to make it on the ballot.

The big takeaway: Gauthier most likely will cruise to victory in the primary.

⚔️ Sharpening attacks on Jeff Brown

Mayoral candidate Allan Domb launched a scathing new website against rival Jeff Brown last week, Philly Mag reports.

  • features excerpts from critical coverage about the ShopRite titan and plays an anti-Brown commercial on loop.

Why it matters: This year's Democratic mayoral candidates have largely avoided going after other candidates — except Brown.

Kyle Anderson, a spokesperson for Brown’s campaign, tells Axios that Brown is “clearly the front runner and you can see why.”

  • “Allan Domb is proud to run on his record of creating jobs in Philadelphia and demanding accountability on City Council,” says Domb spokesperson Jared Leopold.

💪 Heavy-hitting endorsements

Speaking of new ads, mayoral candidate Rebecca Rhynhart launched her first TV spot this week featuring touts from former mayors Michael Nutter and John Street.

Why it matters: Their endorsements could factor significantly in voters' minds in the 12-person Democratic field.

The playbook: The former mayors back former city controller Rhynhart’s experience and policies to address gun violence and city services.

The bottom line: The mayor’s race is heating up and the new advertising flurry could signal that campaigns are ready to spend more cash to reach voters beyond the countless mayoral forms.


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