Tom Knox, the wealthy businessman who put more than $10 million into a nearly-successful candidacy for mayor in 2007, put out a statement Thursday indicating he may run for mayor again in 2015, when the city elects someone to replace Michael Nutter.
"After careful consideration and many discussions with people whom I deeply respect, I am seriously considering a run for mayor of Philadelphia in 2015," Knox said in a statement emailed to local media, ostensibly to announce that he is not interested in joining the crowded field of candidates in next year's race for governor.
"...I am making it clear today that I am not a candidate for governor, despite the well-intentioned hopes of others that I would ultimately run," the statement said.
Knox continued: "My home and my first love has always been the City of Philadelphia. For several months now, I have been encouraged by my fellow Philadelphians far and wide to take a serious look at the mayor's race. Our great city is not realizing its full potential, leaving many people wanting for better days. I believe my experience in government, my successes in business, and my history of results-oriented executive leadership can take our great city to a new level of prosperity and ensure a better quality of life for all citizens. I am grateful for the encouragement of so many people from all walks of life and plan on making a formal announcement of my plans in the very near future."
Knox ran second to Nutter among seven candidates in the 2007 Democratic mayoral primary, after spending close to $10.6 million of his personal fortune on the effort.
Nearly outspending all his rivals combined, he was leading in the pre-election polls until several of his rivals focused their criticism on his inexperience as a government official and some aspects of his business career. A costumed figure calling himself "Tommy the Loan Shark" began trailing Knox at campaign stops.
Knox spent 19 months as a deputy mayor in former Mayor Ed Rendell's administration, in charge of management and productivity. He said he led efforts to reduce the city's health care expenses, consolidate the city's automobile fleet and information and technology systems.
In the last two weeks of the campaign, Nutter emerged as the candidate in the best position to beat Knox, and Nutter surged past the businessman. Nutter finished with nearly 107,000 Democratic votes, 36.6 percent of the total cast, while Knox had close to 72,000, some 24.6 percent.
Knox is now 72 years old, living in Center City with his wife, Linda.
His announcement Thursday was distributed by Frank Keel, a longtime spokesman for John Dougherty, the powerful electricians union leader and Democratic ward leader who was Knox's biggest political backer in 2007.
Other Democrats mentioned prominently as potential mayoral candidates in 2015 include State Sen. Anthony Williams.City Council members Bill Green, Jim Kenney and Darrell Clarke, and city controller Alan Butkovitz.