(Photo by Stephanie Aaronson/Philly.com)
There’s a telling little nugget in the data from a survey sent to attendees of the Philly Tech Week Mayoral Forum that goes beyond the two front-runners.
Sure, the room of 350 in the Free Library seemed to pull for Jim Kenney (more than 70 percent of the nearly 40 surveyed said they’d vote for the former City Councilman if the election was held the next day) and state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams largely fared next best (nearly one in five said he offered the clearest policy objectives), but there is something else. We already could have guessed that.
When respondents were asked whom their second choice would be if the primary election was held the next day, fully one-third chose Doug Oliver, the tall and affable former Nutter administrative communications guy and former PGW executive. He’s widely seen as a long shot in this cycle but potentially a strong future candidate.
Oliver joined Kenney and Williams in endorsing many Nutter administration initiatives popular in the broader tech community — like StartUp PHL. You can find all the candidates responses to a Technical.ly Philly mayoral questionnaire here.
Fans of multi-choice elections might say that Oliver’s support is a sign that when pure competition is taken out of the decision-making calculus, many voters are more apt to take a risk on untested candidates. But you could also simply say it’s pure voter logic. Reporters are saying the May 19 Democratic primary will almost surely result in either a Williams or Kenney victory, with former city District Attorney Lynne Abraham playing potential spoiler.
Oliver is fresh-faced and perceived to be less influenced by old-hat Philly interests (because, of course, most money has bet on one of the two leaders) but few left the Philly Tech Week forum suggesting Oliver was well versed in policy — just a single person surveyed said Oliver was clear in his policy objectives.
The forum format was a bit different than others in this forum-frenzied mayoral cycle: each candidate was given 12 minutes of their own on stage, including both opening remarks and a chance to respond to questions from a three-person community panel (investor Jon Gosier, access advocate and entrepreneur Brigitte Daniel and bureaucrat-turned-Microsoft tech exec Jeff Friedman) and from Twitter. The focus was on technology, entrepreneurship and innovation. This reporter moderated.
But you know how easily gamed polling can be — particularly when 10 percent of the audience is just a few dozen people. After Kenney spoke, some in the audience packed up and left, some enthused by his holding the mantle of the closest approximation of a business-minded progressive whom urban tech elite might choose.
So maybe the heavy support for him in the attendee survey, dispatched by Philly Tech Week event organizers and reviewed by Technical.ly Philly, was skewed. You should watch the affair yourself.
Fortunately, our friends at PhillyCAM were there, livestreaming the discussion and recording it all. Find that recording below. The candidates, starting with Abraham, begin at about 15 minutes in: