In Philly mayoral race, who will be ‘the Latino candidate’?
Former judge Nelson Diaz, whose candidacy for mayor of Philadelphia has been a longtime rumor, said over the weekend that he will make it official on Jan. 15.
Diaz made the announcement Friday in New York City during a gathering of politicians and supporters known as the Pennsylvania Society.
Other democratic aspiring mayors were also in attendance, among them State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, Terry Gillen, Lynn Abraham, and another Latino, Ken Trujillo.
For the first time in history, Philadelphia will have two Latino mayoral candidates, which could boost the participation of Hispanics in the elections, a segment of the population with a traditionally low turnout.
Diaz may have an advantage within the Puerto Rican community because of his cultural background. Last week he even held a campaign fundraiser in San Juan.
On the other hand, Trujillo, a Mexican-American, has the challenge of convincing the community, that the first Latino mayor of Philadelphia does not necessarily have to be Puerto Rican.
Whether one of them will be “the Latino candidate" is still to be seen, yet the support from this community, even if unified, won’t be enough. The bigger question is whether Diaz and Trujillo have the political and financial capital it takes to become the next mayor of Philadelphia and whether they can convince a diversity of voters.
In an interview with WHYY ’s Newsworks, Diaz said that Williams and himself are the only candidates who can win African-American votes.
"Lynn is a great candidate, but she won't be able to get Black votes," Diaz said to WHYY ’s Newsworks, that first reported the story on Friday, "Ken has done nothing in the Black community, so he can't get Black votes. And who else is in this race? Gillen, and I don't know what Gillen will do.”
Diaz refused to make any comments today to AL DÍA.
Trujillo said that voters, no matter their background, are more concerned about which candidate has the best plan than they are about the race or gender of the future mayor.
“I’m confident that the work I’ve done and my vision for the city will resonate with voters from every background,” Trujillo said to AL DÍA. “The support our campaign has already received has shown that to be true."
In the public sector, Diaz previously served as City Solicitor, judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In the private sector, he is currently a member of the board of directors of Exelon and PECO, as well as a partner at Dilworth Paxon LLP.
Trujillo previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney and as City Solicitor in Philadelphia. He founded his own law firm, Trujillo Rodriguez & Richards, which later combined with Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis. He also helped build Congreso de Latinos Unidos, launched the Pan American Academy Charter School, and owns El Zol Philly radio station.