Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Nutter rivals plotting?

There may or may not be a real race for mayor of Philadelphia this year, but the political dance has become increasingly entertaining this week.

Nutter rivals plotting?

There may or may not be a real race for mayor of Philadelphia this year, but the political dance has become increasingly entertaining this week.

On Wednesday, Heard in the Hall reported that State Sen. Anthony Williams was flirting with a challenge to Nutter, an erstwhile ally. While Williams' candidacy would have to be regarded as a long shot, it could also encourage a white candidate, such as City Councilman Bill Green, to take a shot on the theory that the black vote would be split by the two African-American men.

And who would be spotted Thursday at the Four Seasons lunching together but -- Williams and Green! And whom would be eating at another table, but the Mayor himself!

Green said his meeting with Williams had been scheduled and rescheduled for months; starting in August, Williams began to publicly criticize Green on a number of levels, including Green's support for a bill to eliminate the Sheriff's Office. As Heard in the Hall reported on Aug. 16:

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But now Sen. Williams, a recent candidate for governor and head of the United Ward Leaders of Color, is going out of his way to target Councilman Green. Williams cited a number of reasons, among them what he regarded as Green's undermining of Mayor Nutter, and his singling out the Sheriff's Office among other row offices dominated by white politicians (Register of Wills and the City Commissioners). Oh, and that little thing about Green's backing Dan Onorato in the May gubernatorial primary instead of Williams, who ended up finishing third in a four-way race.

So it was natural for the two to break bread and discuss their differences and mutual interests. But on the same day The Inquirer reported Williams' interest in print? And live, on display for Nutter himself?

Green, cornered in a City Hall hallway Thursday afternoon, said the two talked about education policy, state corporate tax policy and other issues. And the Mayor's race? "I don't remember what the rest of the conversation was about," Green deadpanned. Williams did not return calls for comment.

There's little evidence to suggest either man believes they can beat Nutter, a well-funded incumbent, straight up in the 2011 Democratic primary. Observers seem to believe that the only challenge from a Democrat will come from businessman Tom Knox  running as an independent campaign against Nutter in November. Republican John Featherman is also expected to run.

But both Green and Williams are crafty enough politicians to know they can create political leverage if Nutter feels in any way threatened.

Nutter's campaign spokeswoman, Sheila Simmons, declined comment, "Other than to say that, for the Nutter campaign, today was a good day. We received a valued and appreciated endorsement from DA Seth Williams, and there will be other announcements to come."

Click here for Philly.com's politics page.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Troy Graham and Bob Warner and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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