Can U.S. Rep. Bob Brady run for mayor and still chair the Democratic City Committee?

He says he plans to stay party boss through the May 15 primary, but keeping the post will test his stamina and may present political and even legal challenges.

For example, before Brady announced his candidacy last week, ward leaders and other Democrats got a letter of invitation, apparently fom Brady, that seems inconsistent with the city's new campaign-finance law.

The law says a candidate can have only one campaign committee, but the letter was sent by the Democratic City Committee, which Brady chairs, to promote an event sponsored by Brady's campaign committee.

Brady says he had nothing to do with the party mailing, even though it appears to bear his signature – "Bob."

"I didn't know it happened until I got the letter," Brady said in an interview. "I didn't sign it. Somebody put my name on it."

Another challenge for Brady will be the time-consuming task of communicating with 68 other ward leaders and crafting party-endorsed slates for City Council, four row-office positions, and several judicial races.

David Glancey, who was party chair in the early 1980s, struggled to keep up with party work while maintaining a part-time law practice.

"I'd get to city committee at 11:30 or noon, and I'd have 20 phone messages," Glancey said. "While returning those, another 20 would come in. I could easily be on the phone from 2 till 7 every day."

Brady, who prides himself on returning ward leaders' calls, said he'll keep doing it and run for mayor.

"I got so much energy," Brady said. "And don't forget, I've three hours I can be on the phone driving back and forth from Washington [for congressional duties]."

Glancey said he thinks Brady can manage, at least for four months. "He does this job a lot better than I did," Glancey said.

Another issue for Brady will be potential conflicts between his interests as a mayoral candidate and the agendas of other candidates and ward leaders.

An example: Incumbent City Commissioner Edgar Howard wants to be on the city committee's slate for re-election. But as a ward leader, Howard supports state Rep. Dwight Evans for mayor. Other officeholders are in similar circumstances.

Does Brady oppose them for re-election, or try to undercut judicial candidates they support?

Howard said he won't have a problem with Brady over his support of Evans.

"Wiser heads will always prevail," he said yesterday. "On May 16, we still have to govern."

Brady said that while he wants everyone's support, he would never exact retribution on those who support his rivals.

"This party is going to be here after the mayor's race, and we have to bring the party together," Brady said. "I'm not going to cause a nuclear war."

Brady said he hopes to become Democratic City Committee's endorsed candidate, and doesn't think that would violate the ban on a candidate having more than one campaign committee.

"I talked to our lawyers when the campaign-finance law came out," Brady said, "and they said it doesn't prevent us from doing something for a candidate."

It was widely discussed when the 2003 law was passed that the ban on more than one committee per candidate doesn't prevent independent committees from helping a candidate, as long as the candidate doesn't coordinate with the effort.

The question in Brady's case is whether the city committee can help a candidate who also happens to be its chairman.

Shane Creamer, executive director of the new city Ethics Board, said his board is asking all mayoral candidates to designate one campaign committee.

He said the Ethics Board would enforce the campaign-finance law, but he couldn't comment on a specific case.