By Alex Roarty
PoliticsPA Staff Writer
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Anthony Williams on Thursday, sources tell PoliticsPA, bolstering his campaign as he tries to gain traction in a still largely unformed primary.
Nutter’s endorsement likely adds credibility to Williams’ candidacy while boosting his image in not just Philadelphia, but the voter-rich southeast, which shares the city’s media market.
Williams faces Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Auditor General Jack Wagner, and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel in the primary. He has been considered the race’s underdog, mostly because he holds a low-profile office compared to his opponents and entered the race only about six weeks ago.
A Franklin & Marshall College poll released earlier Wednesday showed him drawing just 4 percent of the vote, compared to 11 percent for Onorato, 7 percent of Wagner, and 5 percent for Hoeffel.
But Williams hails from Philadelphia, which still represents a chunk of Democratic voters even in a relatively low-turnout primary, and seemingly has much of the city’s political establishment supporting him. Even if Hoeffel siphons votes from him in the southeast, his two western Pennsylvania opponents, Wagner and Onorato, could split the region’s vote in their own base.
He also might posses a financial advantage over two of his opponents. The state senator said he has raised about $2 million since entering the race, which is more than Hoeffel’s and Wagner’s fundraising at the end of last year combined. Hoeffel had about $200,000 to start the year, compared to the auditor general’s nearly $700,000.
Onorato, the race’s front-runner, had more than $6 million on hand, and will almost certainly carry a heavy financial edge over his inter-party opponents through the race.
UPDATE: The Williams’ campaign confirmed Nutter’s endorsement in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
UPDATE 2: Nutter formally endorsed Williams Thursday morning, where they were also joined by state Rep. Dwight Evans, the House Appropriations Chairman.