Rebecca Rhynhart Discusses Mayoral Run, Next Steps After Defeat

Rebecca Rhynhart (Courtesy of Rebecca Rhynhart for Mayor)

After working in two Philadelphia mayoral administrations, serving as city controller for more than four years and becoming an unexpected favorite in the 2023 Democratic Primary for the fall mayoral election, Rebecca Rhynhart is available.

Available to spend extra time with her family, consider her next move and open her mind to paths that may have little to do with running the city of Philadelphia.

The 48-year-old finished second to Cherelle Parker in the May 16 primary, losing by a little more than 24,000 votes and almost 10%. It was a disappointing finish after a race that saw the Jewish candidate earn endorsements from three former mayors, Ed Rendell, John Street and Michael Nutter, and the city’s newspaper of record, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

But it was also a race that put Rhynhart on the map. At the candidate’s election night event in Northern Liberties, Nutter said, “Rebecca Rhynhart will continue to do great things in Philadelphia.”

Ten days after the election, Rhynhart discussed her future with the Jewish Exponent. At the beginning of her race in November, she said her Jewish values of empathy and fairness guided her in her effort to solve Philadelphia’s problems, like crime. Those same values seem to be guiding her now.

So, what’s next for you?

I want to have a big impact on our city and region. I’m not going to be jumping in to run for office anytime in the near future. That’s not where my head is. Where I am, is thinking about, how do I have the biggest impact?

When you think back on the campaign, how do you feel about it? Was there anything you might have done differently?

I’m proud of the race. I’m proud of what my team did. We had a grassroots field organizing part of my campaign about spreading the message of what I bring to the city. I met so many people through the race that shared my vision.

But democracy works the way democracy works. I came in second. It’s a hard loss. But at the same time, I want to focus on the positive, which is what we built and the momentum across the city among different groups of people.

It says to me that, what my message was, resonated. It will continue to be my message. I’m not going anywhere. A loss makes you more resilient. This loss was heartbreaking, but at the same time, I feel thankful for all the amazing support that I did get.

I love Philly. My heart is 100% in the future of our city. So, it’s emotional. I feel it. I’m going to figure out how best to use my voice, my experience, my knowledge and the principles I believe in to help our city.

What have you been doing over the past week and a half?

I’ve just taken some time with my family. The race has an impact on the family. A lot of missed dinners. There’s also the impact of negative campaigning that my daughter saw.

Can you offer any details on what your next move might be?

I’m taking some time to think through that over the summer. I’m thinking about a few different types of ways to approach it. The only thing I know for sure is I’m not jumping right into another campaign.

I’m having conversations with leaders in the region, nonprofit as well as private sector, to see where I’d best fit.

Might you run again at some point?

It’s a possibility.

What I did see throughout my campaign is the number of people throughout our city that believe in what I stood for and what I stand for, which is positive change in our city. I want to make sure I stay connected to everyone that believes in that.

I find that sometimes the path forward isn’t immediately clear, but we have to stay true to our ideals.

We have a number of serious issues right now. We’ve got to make our city safer. We’ve got to get the gun violence down. We’ve got to improve the education system so all the kids have a real opportunity for success. And we need to encourage business growth.

Would you consider working in a Parker administration?

I’ll always be willing to work with her as the mayor to help move our city forward. I don’t have any interest in going back to work for city government. But I’d be happy to help her in any way I could be helpful.

I’ve worked for two mayors. That’s why I ran for mayor, and I’ll figure out another way to have an impact.

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