Karen Brown Skips GOP Mayoral Debate; Featherman Debates Self
It’s a little after 8pm and Kevin Kelly is not happy. The Philadelphia Loyal Opposition leader is at the podium of last night’s Republican debate inside the German Society at 6th and Spring Garden. He says Republican City Committee-endorsed mayoral candidate Karen Brown won’t be making it, even though “she agreed to be here.” The word “cowardice” is thrown around more than once.
Kelly says he’s exchanged several phone calls and text messages with Brown. She even allegedly sent a head shot for the occasion and Kelly openly mocks someone from her campaign in attendance, sitting in a folding chair amongst the audience. “I think you got the phone information wrong,” says the Brown staffer who would leave before he could be identified.
“Don’t piss in my ear and tell me it’s raining out,” says Kelly, still from the podium. “It’s very disrespectful what you’re doing here.”
But the show must go on – with or without an opponent for Republican mayoral hopeful John Featherman.
A City Council At-Large debate preceded the quick argument. Quickly on that, given the amount of media in the audience, it seemed as though each Council candidate held back from the last time we saw them (the amount of media is an assumed reason; we can’t know why the candidates would muzzle themselves.) David Oh touted his various union endorsements — and union money that comes with it — while no one would denounce collective bargaining as a whole. All were challenged on this issue by Kevin Kelly, from the audience, and all balked.
This will lead to John Featherman criticizing each Council candidate (“I was appalled by each one of them”) during his time with moderator Larry Mendte.
Featherman begins his debate giving mocking praise toward his no-show opponent. She was smart not to show up, he says, because “she would get crushed.” Avoiding the debate was “best for her campaign.”
Little new information that we haven’t covered in the past was brought to light here by Featherman – he still wants to kill the Dept. of Ethics, still wants to send L&I to the set of “The Biggest Loser” for a season or two, still loves! loves! loves! City Commissioner candidate Al Schmidt. (Council candidates showed their allegiance earlier on, too.)
But the latest developments both within city government and Featherman’s own campaign are brought to light by Mendte, who seems far more prepared for his sit-down with Featherman than his stand-up moderation with the Council hopefuls.
Ban the Box: Featherman doesn’t like it. He says such legislation makes sense as far as police, firefighters and some city workers are concerned, but getting involved in the private industry is only going to keep more and more businesses away from Philadelphia proper – a common theme throughout the night.
On his viral 4-minute web ad: A few days ago, no one had ever heard of him – “now I’m number one on Drudge.” Mendte, sitting inches away, presses him on whether or not it was “appropriate” to use Gaddafi in an ad, considering the Libyan Colonel is a vicious psychopath who bombs planes and tries to squash his peoples’ uprisings by military force. Featherman somewhat avoids the question, simply going over and over again topics from the ad – Arlene Ackerman’s salary, former Mayor Wilson Goode’s propensity to drop bombs on his own citizens – until Mendte stops him. But was using Gaddafi appropriate? he asks. “Absolutely,” answers Featherman.
Oh, and vote for Al Schmidt for City Commissioner – no one else. This cannot. be stressed. enough.
What might not have sat too well with the Republican audience was Featherman’s upfront-ness about not being able to win the general election against Mayor Michael Nutter. He retains the idea that he’s there to prop up the other candidates, help the Republican Party of Philadelphia get to a position where it’s more than a two-seat At-Large minority. However, he does tell the audience they should start a “Draft John Street Campaign,” since the former mayor may drain any African-American support Nutter had hoped to come away with. If that’s the case, he says, the final vote tally might be something like “40 Street, 40 Nutter, 20 Featherman” – and for a Republican, yeah, 20’s pretty good, we guess.
I meet up with Al Schmidt while heading out – once again, the man of the night, though just a spectator. We muse about his ability to reap unending praise from the other Republicans in the city at which time he leans in and says with a laugh: “Yeah, it’s getting a little weird.”