Kenney Wins Democratic Mayoral Primary in Philadelphia

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He won despite one of his opponents receiving more than $6 million through a super PAC funded by three Jewish donors on the Main Line.

Former City Councilman Jim Kenney will likely be the next mayor of Philadelphia after defeating a Jewish former district attorney and a candidate with strong ties to the Jewish community.

Kenney, with 56 percent of the vote, defeated state Sen. Anthony Williams, 26 percent, as well as former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham, 8 percent, according to the Philadelphia City Commissioners office. Philadelphia has not elected a Republican mayor in more than 60 years, so Kenney winning the primary all but assures he will lead the city beginning in January — unless a surprise candidate enters the race.

Much of the campaign focused on fixing the city’s public school system, and Kenney enjoyed the support of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers along with other labor groups.

Williams, who also ran for governor in 2010, had the support of three Jewish financial traders from the Main Line who have donated more than $11 million to his two losing campaigns.

Kenney, who served on the City Council for more than two decades, would replace Michael Nutter, who has led the city as it has gained a more prominent place in the national spotlight — highlighted by its winning bid to host the Democratic National Conventions in 2016. But many schools still have low graduation rates where students are failing and poverty levels remain high.

Nutter over two terms also built strong ties with the Jewish community, including visiting Israel in 2013; lobbying to keep open the Israeli Consulate in Philadelphia; officiating over the same-sex wedding of Israel’s deputy consul general; and appearing at a variety of interfaith gatherings, including one to oppose ads on SEPTA buses that stated hatred for Jews is an intrinsic part of the Islamic faith.

Kenney has said he would push for a universal pre-K program in the city and not construct new charter schools. During his time on City Council, Kenney sponsored a bill that prohibited the city from accepting a bid or holding investments in foreign-owned firms that do business with Iran .The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia lobbied on behalf of that legislation. 

Judicial races

In the race for the state Supreme Court, one Jewish judge from Philadelphia lost in the Democratic primary; another Jewish judge from Allegheny County was among the top three finishers.

Superior Court Judge Anne Lazarus of Philadelphia finished in fourth place on the Democratic ticket with 17 percent of the vote, according to WHYY.org. Lazarus, who is a co-chair of the Gershman Y board, was appointed to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in 1991 and elected to her position on the Superior Court in 2009. The Philadelphia Bar Association honored Lazarus in 2013 with its Sandra Day O’Connor award.

Superior Court Judge David Wecht led the Democrats and captured 22 percent of the vote. He has served on the Common Pleas court from 2003 until he was elected and started serving on the Superior Court in 2012.

In the Democratic primary for the Court of Common Pleas, Abbe Fletman, who had been appointed to the court in 2014 by then-Gov. Tom Corbett, was among the 15 judges who won, according to Philly.com. 

City Council races

Allan Domb will likely serve as an at-large City Councilman after finishing third in the Democratic Primary. Domb, who is Jewish, is a real estate developer who spent significant money on his own campaign, focusing particularly on television ads. He is the four-term president of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors and serves on the boards of nonprofit organizations like the Center City District and Friends of Rittenhouse Square. 

Sherrie Cohen, the daughter of the late longtime Councilman David Cohen, finished seventh in the race. She has served as an attorney for the nonprofit Tenant Union Representative Network

In the Second District race, incumbent Kenyatta Johnson trounced Ori Feibush, winning 63 percent of the vote. Feibush, a real estate developer who is Jewish, has put significant investment into the Point Breeze neighborhood and was criticized by Johnson and some residents in the neighborhood for putting his business interests above the well being of longtime residents. 

 

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