It's unclear whether either party will have a contested primary. Realtor John Featherman is running as a Republican. He previously campaigned for the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, and clerk of quarter sessions. You still haven't heard of him.
Possibly this is because only 15 Republicans are left in Philadelphia and three of them are Frank Rizzo, Jack Kelly, and Jack Kelly's dog. But Featherman is already a winner for running in opposition to the bovine Republican City Committee, the principal reason there are so few Republicans.
Nutter has raised $1.6 million, including $363,000 last month, while gaining the support of virtually every powerful city Democrat. By comparison, Featherman says he has about $3,500 on hand, mostly, he concedes, "from my parents, aunts, and uncles."
Tom Knox plans to bypass the primary season and run as an independent. As a candidate, Knox's principal assets are his assets. His 2007 platform: "I was once poor, and now I'm rich," reminding us he is no Michael Bloomberg.
On the other hand, what's not to love about Knox as an economic engine? He disbursed $12 million of his own cash during the 2007 Democratic primary to come in 12 points behind Nutter, $167 per ballot, which is one way to make a voter feel special.
So, yes, money is great. But competition is better.
Philadelphia is a city where a mayor can burn down a block or share his office with a federal bug and still be reelected.
By these standards, Nutter is way ahead.
Mounting an insurgent primary campaign is difficult in the best of times. Ed Rendell and John Street faced no opposition in their reelection primaries, but Street certainly faced competion in the general election, from Katz, which may not be true for Nutter. There will be plenty of people vying for City Council, which will have four vacant seats, possibly more.
Although Featherman is an underfunded long shot, the issues he wants to discuss are substantive. He welcomes a Republican City Committee challenger in the primary. He tells me, "A campaign has the tremendous power and ability to transform Philadelphia through bully-pulpit politics."
Without a robust primary or general election, the possibilities for debate, initiatives, and policy reform dwindle. The system becomes sluggish.
Already a one-party town, Philadelphia is in danger of becoming a one-candidate town.
In November, when Green was still mulling a run, he said, "I thought the city could have a debate" about its future - Green being one of Nutter's principal critics on Council - "without me having to be the debater. That appears to be changing. We hired Mayor Nutter for a four-year contract, not an eight-year contract, and that contract is up."
And so many issues are worth addressing. Featherman wants to reduce the government, encourage private bidding of city services to lower costs, trim the Department of Licenses and Inspections by 25 percent, cut the sales tax, ditch the gross-receipts tax, and gradually lower the wage tax.
"The question is not which tax is good, but which tax could be cut to make business better," he says.
Nutter first campaigned for a job that changed radically with the global financial crisis. He's been asked to do a lot more with a lot less, and much of his agenda has stalled. A vital, contested campaign has the potential not only to reinvigorate the fusty political climate, but also to help Philadelphians choose priorities.
Philadelphia mayors win reelection. But in a city of 1.5 million, there should be more talent, an ample list of possible contenders, and not the same old names making noise.
This dearth exists elsewhere; it's the same leadership vacuum that results in David Cohen's serving on the board of everything, while Gerry Lenfest remains the go-to benefactor for all philanthropy.
In a city this size, one that's been so successful lately in attracting enterprising young people and wealthy suburbanites to its core, this moment ought to be our time for more competition and talent, not less, and certainly not a mayoral campaign that promises all the potential substance and drama of an Iranian election.
Contact columnist Karen Heller at 215-854-2586 or email@example.com.