Payback for Philadelphia's big turnout for Obama?

Mayor Nutter, with Reps. Allyson Y. Schwartz and Chaka Fattah (right), speaks to Obama supporters at the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel on Election Night.
Mayor Nutter, with Reps. Allyson Y. Schwartz and Chaka Fattah (right), speaks to Obama supporters at the Radisson Plaza-Warwick Hotel on Election Night. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 09, 2012

It's no surprise which presidential candidate the political elite in Philadelphia were rooting for Tuesday, for practical and political purposes.

"It's always good for Philadelphia to have a friend in the White House," City Controller Alan Butkovitz, a Democrat in the heavily Democratic city, said Wednesday in the wake of President Obama's reelection.

The city's support for Obama was again impressive - more than 557,000 votes were cast for the president, representing more than 85 percent of the city's total.

"People in Washington will take note of that," said political consultant Larry Ceisler.

At the traditional day-after luncheon at the Palm restaurant, labor leader John J. Dougherty - whose electricians union runs its own formidable get-out-the-vote operation - echoed that sentiment.

"The numbers coming out of Philly were really significant," he said. "I don't know how much [federal] money is going to be available, but I would think that Mayor Nutter and the congressional delegation should be at the front of the list."

So the city retained a friendly administration in Washington. What that might mean is less certain.

Mayor Nutter rejected one theme that has been churning up the political rumor mill for months - that his high-profile support for the president would lead to a high-powered job in Washington.

"Absolutely, 100 percent, I'm not going anywhere. I love this job, I love this city. I have work still to do," said Nutter, who has three more years in his second term. "I think I can best serve President Obama by being a good mayor."

Nutter said he had made his intention to finish his second term clear to the Obama administration and to the president himself.

Nutter traveled and campaigned for the president, and served as a surrogate on television, which encouraged speculation that the mayor would be moving down I-95 after the election.

"He's a very viable prospect for an administration that's going to have a fair amount of turnover," said Sam Katz, a former Republican mayoral candidate.

Whether Nutter stays or goes, Katz said he doubted whether some kind of financial reward would be coming to Philadelphia.

The city does count on millions in federal funding every year, including more than $500 million in fiscal 2013.

But Katz, who chairs the city's financial watchdog, the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), doesn't think the federal government is going to engage in any big stimulus or infrastructure spending.

"If you take seriously things like fiscal cliffs and deficits . . . I don't think this is a windfall election for Philadelphia," Katz said, "or any city for that matter."

When money is available, the city does well under a Democratic administration, winning funds in recent years like the $15 million being poured into the rehab of Dilworth Plaza.

"What I know about President Obama is, the continued focus and commitment to cities will remain strong," Nutter said. "You see some of the impact of his work, literally, right outside with Dilworth Plaza."

Then there's the fear of what would have happened if Obama had lost. Butkovitz said Mitt Romney "would have been a bigger version" of Gov. Corbett, who has made painful cuts to state funding for the city.

"We already have a bankrupt school district and 25 percent poverty," Butkovitz said. "It would have been potentially curtains for this as a great city."


Contact Troy Graham

at 215-854-2730 or tgraham@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @troyjgraham.

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