The results are in, and incumbent Alan Butkovitz has claimed a victory in the Philadelphia Controller race, defeating Brett Mandel 61% to 31% with 95% of precincts reporting.
Despite Mandel being the only candidate to run a television ad, the strong fundraising effort by Butkovitz was too much to overcome. The ad took a positive/negative approach to the race, criticizing Butkovitz for problems in Philadelphia schools and praising his own academic record. Butkovitz dismissed at the ad, calling it “dishonest and misleading” through a spokesperson.
An early Mandel-commissioned poll had him up on Butkovitz by 4 points, but strong name recognition and an endorsement from former Gov. Ed Rendell and other local Democrats was enough to put the incumbent over the top.
“Alan has been a dogged Controller when it comes to attacking waste,” Rendell said at the time. “He doesn’t go for spectacular headlines, but only strives to find areas where the city can make more money and improve its performance. He deserves another term as Controller.”
Butkovitz has served as City Controller since his election in 2005. This is the second time Butkovitz has taken it to Mandel, as he defeated the candidate in his 2009 re-election primary. Many observers have predicted that Butkovitz will make a run at the Philadelphia Mayor’s office in 2015.
Mandel was an aide to former Controller Jonathan Saidel and in recent years directed the good government advocacy group Philadelphia Forward.
A top issue in the race is the Actual Value Initiative, which supporters say would modernize the city’s byzantine property tax system and critics warn would spike taxes for homeowners. Mandel supported it throughout the campaign, while Butkovitz opposed it.
Longshot Mark Zecca, who was an attorney in the city’s Law Department for 20 years, finished with 8%.
Butkovitz is a heavy favorite against Republican Terry Tracy.