It's official -- former Republican City Councilman Frank Rizzo is now a Democrat pondering a run for mayor in 2015. That may be very good news for state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.
Rizzo, who switched his registration to independent after losing the 2011 Republican primary election, was assisted in his party change today by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city's Democratic chairman. Brady is tight with Williams, a likely candidate for mayor in 2015 who appears to have his chairman's support.
We asked Brady if a Rizzo campaign (a white candidate) could help Williams (a black candidate), potentially drawing away voters who might support another opponent in the Democratic primary election.
"You know, that's speculative," Brady said. "Tony Williams said he's going to run but he's not running yet."
Rizzo said "the racial aspect, how many people are in the race" will all be part of how he decides if he will run for mayor. Asked if anything or anyone could keep him from running, Rizzo responded "I don't think anything will stop me."
Williams, who did not attend the event, later said it was too early to say if a Rizzo campaign would impact his campaign. "Who knows?," Williams said. "We may be the only two running. You can’t tell until we know what the field is."
Rizzo served four terms on Council but was tripped up in his last election by his participation in the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan, which allowed elected officials to retire for one day, collect a six-figure pay-out and then return to the city payroll if reelected. Rizzo said he might have won that election if Democrats had been allowed to vote for him.
He switched from Democrat to Republican in 1986 when his father, the late Mayor Frank Rizzo, made the switch in preparation for a run against Mayor Wilson Goode Sr. in 1987. Goode won by a narrow margin that year.