Friday, April 27, 2007

The mayoral race -- new poll, some thoughts

Was excited to hear on the radio this morning about a new poll, which puts Michael Nutter within 2% of Tom Knox among likely voters. Notable here, in addition to Knox's drop and Nutter's surge, is that (a) the undecided group is way up, 32% here, and (b) even those with a preference show uncertainty, with nobody over 14% when respondants were pushed to say that they would "definitely support" their choice. What this means is that all the recent horse-race coverage, the talk about Knox as "unstoppable," or about other candidates as the "only alternative," etc., is pretty much crap. This race is wide open, with probably half of all voters still in play. Newspaper endorsements are likely to come out next week and make an impact, the types of ads that candidates run are likely to sharpen, and voters will start to tune in to the issues coverage and other discussion as the calendar flips over into May.

Thus it's important to get discussion going wherever you can -- talk up the candidate you really care about -- and also to be willing to support the right person, as you see it, rather than presuming that only this guy or that guy has a chance. I don't know how many people I've heard say, in particular, that they'd really like to support Nutter, but thought he had no hope, and thus they figured they'd better vote for [Fattah/Brady] lest they end up with Knox. That's not the right way to be thinking at this point -- this is a primary, the field is wide open, and it's not the time for cynicism and hopelessness. Our votes, our activism, can make a real difference in such a close race. We should be supporting the candidate that we think deserves to carry our banner and run the city.

And thus I think it's appropriate for me to say that better Nutter photo I'm endorsing Michael Nutter for mayor. I've had the opportunity to see all of the candidates in person, as well as to read about their positions and watch them debate, and Nutter made by far the strongest impression. Not only is he clearly smart and well-spoken, familiar with City Hall and how the city works, but he speaks with a genuine passion about Philadelphia and its residents and what needs to be done here. He talks about violence without resorting to simple one-shot solutions, arguing that we need not only more police, but a better system to support and monitor prisoners when they are released, better oversight of violence-plagued neighborhoods, and better early intervention to keep kids in school and out of trouble. He's serious about the desire to improve city education, so that all parents will be glad to send their kids to public schools and so that more of them will graduate and go on to productive lives. And he clearly sees the linkages between education, violence, and poverty, and the need to address them all together. More even than these insights, he brings a proven dedication to better government, and an energy and earnestness that can inspire listeners. Michael Nutter as mayor could give Philadelphians pride in their city and hope again, after some years of anger and division. I'll be voting for him on May 15, and I hope you'll join me.

Edit: I guess I should include Nutter's website! Still lots of time to make a donation, volunteer some time, get involved. (Same for our other endorsed candidates, who can be viewed from the sidebar link.)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's an excellent endorsement. I echo those comments. While I also think Evans would be a good choice, Nutter stands out as the most reform-minded candidate and, as you said, his brilliance and dedication to good government is clearly evident from his record as a City Councilman. He understands city government better than anyone and the seriousness of the issues facing the city. Philly is at a crossroads with this election. We can choose mediocrity and continued division or we can choose excellence and a government dedicated to representing the best interests of all citizens. Nutter represents our best hope for a new, more hopeful day in Philly.


P.S.: I don't work for the Nutter campaign, but am a recent convert to the Nutter Movement.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Stan Shapiro said...

This endorsement is truly disappointing. Nutter, while he has certainly achieved positive results on a variety of issues from time to time on Council, has not had a career displaying particular concern or sensitivity to issues affecting the dispossessed of our city. And that explains his extraordinarily poor showing in every poll among black voters. The candidate who stands out as being committed his whole life to bringing the poor into the mainstream is Chaka Fattah. Fattah has never forgotten his roots and his background coming from a family which chose to open its home completely to lost kids on the margin of society. He has spent his whole public career fighting for such kids. You called him a cipher in a previous post. That sells the man amazingly short.

Although Nutter sometimes talks about those who are left out, his passions have been around middle class and business concerns. The fight over smoking, while a worthwhile one, exemplifies where his true passions lie. But even more, his record in relentlessly pursing elimination of the main business tax in Philadelphia truly highlights his true orientation. It's not so much that he sought furiously while on Council to abolish that tax; it's that he did so without condition. That is his legislation would have abolished the tax without regard to the impact such action would have on the ability of the City to continue providing basic social services. That is the action of a very conservative ideologue, not of someone overwhelmingly motivated by concern for the poor and the left out.

I think Nutter has sold a lot of progressives a bill of goods and if elected, which I think he has an excellent chance to be, will reveal himself to be something entirely different than what we bargained for. And that will really be too bad.

12:54 PM  
Blogger ACM said...

In all honesty, Stan, I think that Nutter would be much more likely to sit down with progressive groups, especially in the current environment, than Fattah -- remember how the latter had "no free time" to join an NN forum? He was barely even willing to waste his breath on my Ward, arguing mainly from the "only alternative to Knox" standpoint, and giving much the same vibe of entitlement that I got from Sharif Street. I appreciate Fattah's focus on poverty, but think that much of what Nutter talks about with regard to safety and education are aimed in the same direction, and I'm significantly more convinced by Nutter's ability to get things done than I am by Fattah's remarkably hollow record in Congress.

I know you feel strongly about this, and I hate to find myself on a different side from you with so much of our outlooks in common, but I think we'll have to agree to disagree. I don't think that Fattah would be the end of the world as mayor (while I worry more about Knox or Brady, for different reasons), and I just hope you can develop a less dire sense of what Nutter would really focus his energies on once he got into office.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nutter has presented a bold agenda for education, jobs and crime, all of which are central to reducing poverty. The problem with Fattah is that he seems to think the issue of poverty is exclusive and apart from the other issues facing our city. Without quality education and job training, poverty will persist. Without a vibrant business climate, poverty will persist. Without public safety, poverty will persist. Without honest ethical government, poverty will persist. At the end of the day, poverty isn't really the issue. The issue is a social, economic and political system that exploits the citizens of Philadelphia and creates a climate where poverty and hopelessness can thrive. Nutter understands these dynamics and, in my opinion, is more credible when he speaks of creating opportunity for all Philadelphians, especially those most in need.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Shapiro couldn't be more wrong about Nutter. Nutter will make an excellent Mayor. He will be focused, decisive, inclusive, and compassionate. Fattah? He's the invisible Congressman.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fattah is invisible in the 2nd District. I've lived here for years and have never seen evidence that he or his staff were concerned about or involved with community matters. He's one of the most overrated politicians ever. He might espouse the rhetoric that some like, but he has provided not evidence that he can get things done. FYI, Gear Up hasn't done that well in Philadelphia...why? Because Fattah doesn't follow through. How about his "American Cities Foundation". Check out the last time they did a report.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Stan Shapiro said...

In response to the replies to my comment all I can say is this: it's
pretty clear that a lot of white liberals think that Nutter will be a progressive mayor. But I've spent 3 years fighting the major proposal he promoted in Council in his last years there, radical tax cutting for business, rich and poor alike. If his focus is the same as mayor as it was in his last years in Council, you're all going to be vastly disappointed. I hope you're right and I'm wrong, but that's not what the evidence suggests.

In terms of Fattah's willingness to meet with groups, I know that's a criticism that's widely made. For whatever reason, groups that I've been with have not had that problem. But he has had to spend a lot of time in DC, something that won't be the case, obviously, in the event he's elected mayor. And as to his achievement level in Congress, his
Gear Up and last dollar college programs were remarkable achievements for a Democrat in a Republican Congress. Really folks, there aren't a dozen Democrats, if that many, that have gotten major legislation passed in the last 12 years of Republican rule.

In any event, I know how strongly people feel that Nutter is the one.
I agree with ACM; if that's how you feel about it, you should do
everything you can to help your candidate win. I'll do the same, and then we'll see. In the meanwhile I hope you'll also do a little to support a wonderful slate of City Council candidates endorsed by Neighborhood Networks. A good Council is just as important as a good mayor. Check out the NN website at to find out everything you need to know about the slate.

P.S. Yes, the Gear Up program has had some problems here in Philly and around the country as well. Fattah has said he's going to tweak it in response to some of those problems. But dealing with embedded poverty and the low expectations that comes with it isn't easy. It takes design, experimentation and redesign. But everything starts with commitment and concern. These are Fattah's hallmark attributes.

10:25 AM  

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