While Williams and Kenney contend over Black endorsements, Diaz gets nods from Latino pols
The recent endorsement of Jim Kenney by state Rep. Dwight Evans and other Northwest African-American pols is a big deal.
It’s a big enough deal for Kenney’s Super PAC backers to funnel cash into a commercial highlighting the endorsement, and big enough for his opponent state Sen. Anthony Williams to get on the offensive for the first time in the mayor’s race.
WHYY’s Dave Davies said that the endorsement undermines the city’s traditionally race-based voting lines. For Blacks and whites, that might be the case.
But you won’t get a busy signal calling up major Latino pols.
Judge Nelson Diaz has been the only mayoral candidate to reach out to a diverse range of influential Latino officials.
The only exception is Sen. Williams, who has a mutual endorsement between himself and Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez who is running for reelection in the 7th District.
But Diaz, the former Court of Common Pleas judge, has won favor across city and state lines. Early in his campaign, he got the favor of state Rep. Angel Cruz, state Rep. Leslie Acosta, and the Latino Victory Fund, a non-partisan organization created to build political power within the Latino community.
This week, three new endorsements came his way from labor organizations and Puerto Rican party leaders, as well as the highest ranking Latino in American politics.
The top Puerto Rico political parties, including both PDP and NPP (the primary pro-statehood and pro-commonwealth groups of the island’s Democratic Party), have thrown their support behind Diaz, which also comes with a pledge to rally local Latino voters behind Diaz in the May primary.
"It's vital that Puerto Ricans living in Philadelphia match the high voter participation rates we have here on the Island,” said Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla. “I'm going to play my part and help educate the voters about the importance of the May primary in Philadelphia - just as I did in last year's elections in Florida and Connecticut."
On Wednesday, Diaz’s campaign announced a major nod from the Rep. Xavier Becerra, chairman for the U.S. House Democratic Caucus. Becerra, the highest ranking Latino official in American politics, holds a lot of weight for Latinos of every nationality in the U.S.
Why have none of the candidates followed suit? One explanation is the low perception of Latino voters, despite that their population makes up 13 percent of the city.
Ian Rivera, Diaz’s campaign manager, emphasized the importance of the endorsements.
“This week, Nelson was endorsed by, effectively, every major faction of the Puerto Rican political establishment — who promised to deliver significant tangible support to our campaign. He was endorsed by the 4th highest ranking Democrat in Congress, and the highest ranking Latino elected official in the federal government. He's been endorsed by the national Democratic Party's fundraising chair, and the leading Latino political organization in America.”
Rivera also added that the endorsements are indicative a slow but tidal shift happening in Philly politics.
“The press in this town is so consumed by the traditional markers of viability that they're missing a sea change taking place before their eyes,” he said. “A marginalized community is rallying and making its voice heard on a city-wide level for the first time. Our performance on May 19 is going to surprise a great many people, and will reverberate for years to come.”
Nelson Diaz also contended for support from the larger local unions earlier in the race.