Millionaire Tom Knox enters 2015 race for mayor in Philadelphia

ASSOCIATED PRESS Tom Knox will run for mayor again, after losing in the 2007 primary.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Tom Knox will run for mayor again, after losing in the 2007 primary.
Posted: April 26, 2013

TOM KNOX, the successful Philadelphia businessman who finished second in the 2007 Democratic primary election for mayor, made it official yesterday:

He's running again in 2015.

That raises an interesting question: What happens between Knox and his friend, City Councilman Bill Green, long rumored as a 2015 candidate for mayor?

The two have supported one another in campaigns before. Knox held a fundraiser for Green earlier this year.

Both say it would be a waste for both to run for mayor.

"Bill and I are very good friends," said Knox, adding that he would want Green to work in his administration if he were elected mayor. "If I'm in the race, I think I can talk him out of it."

Green said it is still too early to predict the 2015 field.

"Let's just say that it doesn't make much sense for either one of us for both of us to run," Green said. "I'm going to do what I'm doing. I'm raising money."

Knox, who also ran briefly for governor in 2010 and publicly flirted with runs for mayor in 2011 and governor this year, spent more than $10 million of his own money on the 2007 primary.

A candidate who spends more than $250,000 of his own money triggers the "millionaire's exception" in the city's campaign-finance regulations, allowing other candidates to raise twice what is normally allowed.

He thinks putting up big bucks early had the unanticipated impact of helping Mayor Nutter, who went on to win in 2007.

Knox now says he will bank his money until late in the game and focus on fundraising early.

"At the very end, if needed, I'll do whatever I need to do to win," Knox said.

Grand old peace party?

The political civil war that has fractured the Republican Party in Philadelphia could come to a peaceful resolution Tuesday with the election of a new chairman.

The party's ward leaders are scheduled to meet and a vote may take place for state Rep. John Taylor, of Northeast Philly, to replace Chairman Vito Canuso.

Taylor yesterday was clearly waiting for Canuso's next move.

"Vito has been part of the positive discussions we have had about moving the party forward," Taylor said. "He is currently the chairman and until he wants to step down, there is no action that can be taken."

Canuso, while praising Taylor as a "stalwart" of the party this week, said he was waiting for the legislator to make a move.

"The problem is he has to make a tough decision," said Canuso, adding that it can be difficult to run a party and regularly stand for re-election for public office.

Rick Hellberg, who is recognized as chairman by party members trying to revitalize the Republican City Committee, said he would step down and support Taylor if Canuso steps down first.

It's clear there are plenty of sore feelings still at play here. Canuso complains that his foes are eager to declare victory.

"I'm holding all the cards," Canuso said. "If I don't resign, they have nothing."

Zecca seizes on column

Mark Zecca is the least-known candidate in the May 21 Democratic primary election for city controller. Not for lack of trying.

Zecca this week seized on last Friday's Clout column, which told of a February 2012 meeting set up by state Sen. Larry Farnese between City Controller Alan Butkovitz and Brett Mandel.

Butkovitz and Mandel agree that they discussed two options.

Option 1: Butkovitz would not seek a third term and instead support Mandel, who would then support Butkovitz for mayor in 2015. Option 2: Butkovitz would hire Mandel as a top deputy, putting him in line to be acting controller when Butkovitz resigns to run for mayor.

No deal was reached.

In a city-controller debate Wednesday, Zecca brought up the meeting in his opening and closing statements and during just about every answer he gave.

"The other two candidates in the Democratic primary have proven that they are part of the corrupt system," said Zecca, an attorney and 20-year veteran of the city's Law Department.

Butkovitz and Mandel, who rarely agree on much, took the same approach to Zecca.

Neither candidate acknowledged his accusations, although they did both laugh at his repeated use of the word "felonious" to describe the 2012 meeting.


Email:brennac@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5973

On Twitter: @ChrisBrennanDN

Blog: ph.ly/phillyclout

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