Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney cruises in the three candidate primary for the Democratic nomination for Philadelphia Mayor.
He held a large lead with just over one third of the precincts reporting when the AP called the race shortly after 9 PM.
PHILADELPHIA (@AP) — Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, unhurt by soda tax, easily fends off two challengers in Democratic primary.
— Marc Levy (@timelywriter) May 22, 2019
Kenney also won by a wide margin in his first bid for Mayor in 2015 in the seven candidate Democratic primary field.
Despite facing state Sen. Anthony Williams and former City Controller Alan Butkovitz, this race rarely captured much attention in Philadelphia. Kenney, entering the race as the heavy favorite, avoided various public appearances with the two challengers as he was “sleepwalking to a win,” according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Kenney’s signature policy victory in his first term was the enactment of the sugary beverage tax, which remains a hot button topic in the city. Both Butkovitz and Williams rallied against the tax and said it was a regressive tax and hurt poor communities and businesses alike. Kenney touted the tax as an effective way to pay for additional pre-K programs in the city and the rebuild initiative to enhance a number of parks and libraries throughout Philadelphia, which both remain as popular initiatives in the city.
The sugary beverage tax also resulted in the largest ad buys in the race. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg invested $1 million into a pro-Kenney PAC just a couple of weeks prior to the election, while the American Beverage Association, who opposes the tax, spent over $1 million as well running ads attacking Kenney on it.
A Philadelphia Inquirer poll shows that the sugary beverage tax is unpopular among residents in the city, with over half of the residents wanting to repeal it, although Kenney holds a 17 point net approval rating and even stronger support within the Democratic Party.
Kenney will face Republican Billy Ciancaglini, a South Philly defense attorney, in the November election.