Clout: In DA's race, one candidate paid $104 per vote ... and finished fifth

District attorney candidate Michael Untermeyer visits Famous 4th Street Deli on primary day.

Michael Untermeyer spent a bundle in Tuesday’s Democratic primary election — $104 per vote! — trying to win the party’s nomination for district attorney.

The former city and state prosecutor, who finished fifth out of seven candidates with 8.14 percent, poured $1.3 million into his campaign, including a final $50,000 on Monday. He got 12,485 votes.

Untermeyer's $104 per vote, however, is not even a record for self-funding candidates in Philadelphia.

Tom Knox put nearly $11 million into his unsuccessful bid in the 2007 Democratic primary for mayor, winning 71,731 votes. That comes to about $150 per vote. (And Knox still may have some green to toss around. We’ll come back to that.)

Untermeyer became the fifth local candidate to trigger the “millionaire provision” in Philadelphia’s campaign finance limits, which doubles the limits for contributions when a candidate invests $250,000 or more in a race. Four of the five self-funders who triggered the provision lost their races.

The one successful candidate, City Councilman Allan Domb, invested $996,375 before the 2015 Democratic primary for Council at large. He won 57,691 votes, costing $17.27 each — a bargain.

Real estate developer Ori Feibush also triggered the millionaire provision when he put six figures into his 2015 Democratic primary bid for Council’s Second District. The city is carved into 10 Council districts, giving Feibush far fewer voters to draw from than citywide candidates like Untermeyer, Knox, and Domb.

Dan McCaffery just barely triggered the provision in his 2009 Democratic bid for district attorney, although he didn’t spend all of the $250,000 he invested. Still, that comes to $7.91 per vote for McCaffery, now a Common Pleas Court judge. Frugal.

But back to Knox and his deep pockets. Is he thinking about seeking public office again?

“I’m thinking about running for mayor,” Knox said of the 2019 Democratic primary, in which Mayor Kenney is expected to seek a second term.

Time will tell. Knox briefly ran for governor in 2010, and in 2013 he scheduled a City Hall campaign announcement for mayor in the 2015 primary but canceled it at the last moment and stayed out of the race.

These pretzels are making me crazy

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale went a little (a lot) off script Thursday at a news conference announcing he will be auditing the $10 million grant the state gave the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for last year’s Democratic National Convention.

DePasquale disclosed that he was a delegate to the convention and said that wouldn’t make him biased. Fine, sounds good.

But then he went on a TMI rant about his love for Quest Bars. And hate for anything gluten-free.

“I wasn’t given any free food,” DePasquale began, “in case anyone wants to know that.”

We didn’t. But go on, Gene.

“So, any of this money wouldn’t have paid for me to get free food,” DePasquale said.

OK, we’re sold. 

“My food that I brought with me were Quest Bars that are high-protein, low-calorie, and no sugar,” DePasquale continued, curiously. “So, in case anyone thought I was getting off my workout plan at the convention, no, I was not.”

Clout can say with great surety that absolutely no one in the room was thinking that. Who are youPaul Ryan? But don’t let us stop you from explaining that soft pretzel you ate.

“I took it into specifically the gluten-free zone at the convention,” DePasquale continued, inexplicably, “because I personally, unless you are allergic to gluten, this gluten-free stuff is absolute nonsense, and the stuff that you replace it with is actually worse for you, and this is a cause of mine.”

DePasquale added that the pretzel was not a freebie. In case you were wondering.

We weren’t wondering.

Oh, yeah, that strip club

Last week, Clout reported that Councilman David Oh has been sounding the tocsin about what he calls “pop-up go-go places,” or unlicensed clubs with booze and dancers that presumably steal business away from legit strip clubs that pay taxes.

“An unregulated place could be more wild or charge more money for wildness,” Oh said.

We somehow neglected to mention Oh’s past work on behalf of the strip-club industry.

In 2007, when Oh unsuccessfully ran for City Council, he took some heat for providing legal representation years earlier to the Purple Orchid II – the Burholme strip club that had been run by his cousin – when an employee had been arrested for selling drugs there.

The issue came up again in 2011, when now-Councilman Al Taubenberger ran a poll asking if respondents would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who worked as an attorney “to keep a strip club operating in a residential neighborhood.” (It found that 69 percent were less likely to support that candidate.)

A frequent Clout tipster refreshed our memory this week and theorized that Oh now was shilling for traditional strip clubs by shining the light on pop-up joints.

“He’s really just protecting his family’s business turf,” the source said.

Not so, says Oh!

To his knowledge, Oh said, none of his relatives is currently in the adult-entertainment industry. He said his cousin – who contributed to his campaign in 2015 – left the strip-club biz years ago.

“It comes up every time I run,” Oh said. “It’s like the thing that will never die.”

Officials at the Department of Licenses and Inspections also read last week's column, in which Oh lamented that L&I doesn't have inspectors on duty at night to address the elusive clubs.

One L&I staffer asked that we pass on a simple message: If you see a pop-up strip club, uh, popping up somewhere, let them know. You can try 311 during the day, or 911 at night, and cops will have an L&I inspector paged to the scene. 

Staff writers Chris Brennan, William Bender, Sarah Mearhoff, Claudia Vargas, and David Gambacorta contributed to this column. Tips: clout@philly.com