T. Milton Street Sr. is set to run for Philadelphia mayor. All he needs is an empty funeral parlor.
It seems that the former state senator and tax-dodger wants to predicate his campaign on fighting violence in the city. And what better way to highlight the issue than to formally announce his mayoral bid in a mortuary?
"I'm going to try to put emphasis on the young people who have come through funeral parlors prematurely because of this violence we have in the city," Street said Tuesday. "I just need one without a body in it so I can make my announcement."
He was undeterred by the fact that violent crime - particularly homicides - is down sharply in Philadelphia in recent years.
"For some reason, people don't see the violence in the streets as an issue," he said, adding that with his campaign, "they are going to be in for a rude awakening."
Street's expected entry into the race - sometime in the "next couple weeks," he said - seems likely to increase the Democratic primary field to six.
There are three announced candidates: State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, former District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham, and former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo.
Then there are those who have announced that they plan to announce. Street falls into that grouping, as do former Common Pleas Judge Nelson Diaz and Doug Oliver, Philadelphia Gas Works spokesman and former press secretary for Mayor Nutter.
Diaz has said he will formally launch his campaign on Jan. 15. Oliver pegged his entry as sometime in February.
One candidate - Terry Gillen - has come and gone, announcing last week that she had pulled out of the running as result of weak fund-raising.
Street, 73, has the ability to run on little or no funds, given his name recognition from a long and checkered career. Of course, that same long and checkered career suggests that "long shot" would be too generous a label for his chances.
Still, despite serving a federal prison term for unpaid taxes, Street attracted 36,000 votes in the 2011 Democratic primary against the incumbent, Mayor Nutter.
Street indicated Tuesday that he intends to run as an outsider, just as he has done since the 1970s.
"I was a guy who ran around thinking all the problems of our community were because of white people, that was me," he said. "We had a white mayor, a white City Council president, a white sheriff, a white district attorney. Everything was white.
"I figured, if we got some black people in position, we'd be good. Well, now we have a black mayor, a black City Council president, a black district attorney, and we still can't do anything."
With hardly a nudge, Street was off and running on a rant against Council President Darrell L. Clarke for his failure to hold hearings on a proposal to sell the Philadelphia Gas Works.
"I hope he runs," Street said of Clarke, who is weighing a mayoral bid. "I loved to pull his pants down in public."