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    Mayoral Ambitions

    By Ken Rudin
    Special to
    Thursday, March 4, 1999

    Question: With Ed Rendell retiring, who is going to be the next mayor of Philadelphia? – Matt Haag, Arlington, Va.

    Answer: The race to succeed Democratic Mayor Rendell, who is term-limited, features six potentially strong candidates:

  • John Street, the former City Council president;
  • Marty Weinberg, an attorney;
  • Sam Katz, a businessman and the only Republican of the bunch;
  • Dwight Evans, a state representative;
  • John White, a former city housing chief; and
  • Happy Fernandez, an ex-city councilor who is hoping to become the city's first female mayor.

    While Street has led in some of the polls, the margin has been less than overwhelming, and in fact he is thought to have the highest unfavorables of the Democrats competing in the May 18 primary. He was endorsed by Rendell, who remains extremely popular. Weinberg, a longtime ally of the late Mayor Frank Rizzo, has raised the most money and seems to be the choice of many of the city's business leaders. But he has never run for office before, and is clearly not the choice of the Rendell crowd. Katz, who sought the mayoralty in 1991, is winning over many voters with his effusive campaign style, but the city that has not elected a Republican mayor since 1947. Evans, White and Fernandez, who trail the Democratic field, have pockets of support in Philly's liberal community. Street, Evans and White are trying to become the city's first black mayor since Wilson Goode, who served two terms and was succeeded by Rendell in 1991.

    Question: As someone who would like to see Ed Rendell become governor of Pennsylvania, I'd like to know if any Philadelphia mayor has been elected governor of the Keystone State? Joe Clark did make it to the U.S. Senate from City Hall in 1956. But Richardson Dilworth was badly beaten by William Scranton for governor in 1962. – Dick Levinson, Philadelphia, Pa.

    Joe Clark was the last Philadelphia mayor to win statewide office; Dilworth failed in his 1962 governor effort. (Collection of Ken Rudin)
    Answer: I can think of at least one former mayor of Philly who went on to win the governorship. In 1906, Edwin Stuart, the choice of legendary GOP boss Boies Penrose, was elected governor.

    Clark and Dilworth were former mayors when they ran statewide. Clark decided not to seek reelection as mayor in '55 and was succeeded by his ally, District Attorney Dilworth. The city's home rule charter required Dilworth to resign as mayor when he announced his gubernatorial candidacy in '62. He also sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 1958, but withdrew well before the primary when it was clear that Pittsburgh Mayor David Lawrence had the nod sewn up.

    Question: I understand Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer is angling to be Al Gore's running mate in 2000. Has any big city mayor gone directly from City Hall to a national ticket? I seem to recall Teddy Roosevelt was either mayor or police commissioner of New York City. Did that get him the vice presidency or was there another step? – Ray Reynolds Graves, Farmington Hills, Mich.

    Answer: No sitting mayor has gone on to become president, though some have tried, including Democrats Sam Yorty (Los Angeles) and John Lindsay (New York) in 1972.

    The list of former mayors who sought the presidency includes Pete Wilson (San Diego), Dick Lugar (Indianapolis) and Hubert Humphrey (Minneapolis).

    Only three presidents ever served as mayors: Andrew Johnson (Greenville, Tenn.), Grover Cleveland (Buffalo, N.Y.) and Calvin Coolidge (Northampton, Mass.).

    I can't recall any sitting mayors making it to the national ticket; Humphrey, for example, was a senator by the time he was selected as LBJ's running mate in 1964. But I hope my readers will correct me if I'm wrong.

    Roosevelt failed in a NYC mayoral bid, but was elected governor, vice president and president. (Collection of Ken Rudin)
    As for T.R., he unsuccessfully ran for mayor of NYC in 1886 and later served as police commissioner. He was the incumbent governor of New York when he was selected as the GOP vice-presidential nominee at the 1900 convention.

    QUESTION: Regarding your answer about mayors who went on to higher office (see the Feb. 24 column), you could add San Francisco's Dianne Feinstein. – Mark Klobas, Bryan, Tex.

    Question: And what about George Voinovich, Pete Domenici, and Dick Lugar? – Peter Cohl, Los Angeles, Calif.

    Answer: Last week's question was about mayors who advanced directly to higher office. None of the names suggested here applies. Feinstein was already a former mayor when she sought the California governorship in 1990; she was elected to the Senate in '92. Voinovich was the mayor of Cleveland when he ran for the Senate in 1988, but he lost to incumbent Democrat Howard Metzenbaum. By the time Voinovich made it to the Ohio governorship, in 1990, he was already out of office. Domenici was the former ex-officio mayor of Albuquerque when he unsuccessfully sought the governorship of New Mexico in 1970; he won election to the Senate two years later. And Lugar, who was mayor of Indianapolis during his losing Senate bid in 1974, was out of office when he was elected to the Senate in 1976.

    Question: Your Sept. 11 column mentioned the Senate censure of Thomas Dodd in 1967. Is this the same Tom Dodd who is now Ambassador to Uruguay and also on the faculty at Georgetown University? And what precipitated his censure? – Allan Gajadhar, Arlington, Va.

    Answer: There's no relation. The Dodd I wrote about was a two-term Democratic senator from Connecticut who was censured for using campaign funds for personal expenses. Dodd, the father of current Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), died in 1971, six months after losing his bid for reelection. The Thomas Dodd who is the Ambassador to Uruguay was an assistant professor of history at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service when President Clinton appointed him in 1993.

    Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin:

    Ken Rudin, political editor at National Public Radio, is also the creator of's ScuttleButton contest.

    © Copyright 1999 Ken Rudin

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