By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Endorsements have come fast and furious in the Philadelphia mayor’s race, but analysts are particularly surprised by one that came this week: Jim Kenney was endorsed by some leading African-American politicians in the city’s northwest.
Kenney, who is white, nabbed the endorsement of state representative Dwight Evans, city councilwoman Marian Tasco, and other members of a group of African-American political leaders known as the Northwest Coalition.
Randall Miller, political analyst at St. Joseph’s University, says he was surprised.
“It surprises me to some extent because, insomuch as race counts, one might have expected that (black candidate) Tony Williams might have gotten this nod, or that the Northwest Coalition might have even waited for a while to see how the race was playing out,” he tells KYW Newsradio.
Miller believes that one factor in the endorsement may have been the issue of schools. He theorizes that the Northwest politicians are reflecting the concerns of their constituents over Anthony Williams’ support for charter schools. And this, he says, proves that voting in this race is not as simple as black or white.
“In mayoral elections, often race is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, indicator of how people are going to vote. But it’s in some ways jumbled here, because African-Americans, like white and Latinos, have multiple identities, multiple interests. This reflects certain complications in this mayor’s race that are in some ways unusual for this time,” Miller notes.
Kenney has also received the endorsement of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.
Terry Madonna, political analyst and pollster at Franklin and Marshall College, was also surprised by the black leadership group’s endorsement of Kenney. He suspects that personalities — and possible distrust between the Northwest leaders and Williams’ base in West Philadelphia — were in play with this endorsement.
“Politics is inherently a business of personalities and personal relationships,” Madonna notes. “To some extent that figures into this endorsement. You can never rule out — and it’s always often at the heart — the personalities: how they get along, what kind of relationship they have with each other.”
The primary for mayor is now just six weeks away.