Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel launched a preemptive political attack this morning on Mayor Nutter's endorsement of state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams for governor and then was subjected to an old-fashioned West Philly smack-down. Hoeffel's campaign issued a statement 24 minutes before Nutter was due to speak with Williams and state Rep. Dwight Evans, saying the endorsement was ironic because the mayor wants to improve public schools and Williams supports using tax money for school "vouchers" to pay for private tuition.
Williams, who likes to talk about "thinking outside the box," is a Southeastern Pennsylvania threat to Hoeffel since the other two Democrats in the race, Dan Onorato and Jack Wagner, are from Allegheny County. "Here we go with the box," Williams sighed when asked about Hoeffel's claim. "I guess Mr. Hoeffel and others will make their attempts to box me in on where I stand." Williams added that Hoeffel's "scare tactics" were motivated by concerns that kids from one school district might migrate to different districts if given the option.
Nutter, who does not support vouchers, said he could disagree with Williams on one issue and still support him. "That has nothing to do with my support for Sen. Williams and his strong support, which is documented, about the issue of education," Nutter said. "I'm not going to allow that to be some sort of wedge between us."
Evans also praised Williams for his work on education issues and scolded Hoeffel for his statement, which arrived by an e-mailed news release. "It's kind of a preemptive attack to try to create some sort of controversy," Evans said. "To me, that kind of release is not what we need."