#PHL2015: Anthony Williams’ Age of Political Irrelevance Begins in Harrisburg?

As most of you know, I have spent a lot of  off days and hours after work attending political and campaign events, protests and education rallies in Philadelphia and Montgomery County before I moved to Harrisburg, and it really pained me watching the mayoral primary from afar because it would have been a really fun 4 months of travelling Philadelphia and writing about the campaign trail.

After last night’s landslide victory for Jim Kenney, Holly Otterbein and Patrick Kerkstra wrote an excellent in-depth postmortem on the race.  One of the points they focused on is how Anthony Williams managed to fuck up a race that was really his for the taking.  Williams had the support of party boss Bob Brady and three suburban millionaires with a large war chest pushing for a charter school agenda.  They wrote:

And so Williams ran his campaign as though he’d already won. His team failed to craft a coherent campaign message, build a coalition, or attack Kenney until it was too late. Then, by the time he finally started acting like he was running for something, Williams picked a fight with the wrong guy: Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, who is more popular than any other official in the city, Kenney included. 

Williams came into the campaign as the most well-known Democratic champion for charter schools and vouchers in all of Pennsylvania. And so onlookers assumed he had an obvious — and better yet, timely — message: Good schools for everyone.

After I moved out to Harrisburg, I spent time meeting and introducing myself to legislators and staffers.  At that time, Williams was the front runner and people within the caucus were happy because it finally looked like AHW was leaving Harrisburg for good.  Needless to say, the mood shifted swiftly when all roads were pointing Jim Kenney.


Anthony Williams’ embarrassing defeat in last night’s primary should spark a different question.  Are we about the watch the senator move into an age of political irrelevance?

In 2010, Williams was backed by the same charter school interests for his gubernatorial run, which was more of him making a name for himself.  During that run, Williams received $5 million from the pro-charter school groups but only garnered 18 percent of the primary vote.  Not that much return on investment.  And we all just witnessed those same charter groups squander $7 million to support Williams losing in a landslide election.

Williams can go one of two routes when he comes back to Harrisburg.  He can act as a destroyer or fade into political irrelevance after two pitiful high profile campaigns that got nothing in return.


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About Sean Kitchen 681 Articles
Contributor and Assistant Editor for the Raging Chicken Press. Stationed in Harrisburg covering politics in the capitol. You can send tips to sean@rcpress.org or reach me on twitter at @RCPress_Sean!
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2 Comments on #PHL2015: Anthony Williams’ Age of Political Irrelevance Begins in Harrisburg?

  1. The $7 million “front man” for the privatizers, voucherizers, and charterizers needs to leave my Democratic Party. He is no Democrat. Williams is a joke……..an inflated, supercilious man who has no idea what good schools look like, nor a clue of the danger charter schools pose for our democracy!!! Charter schools increase segregation while draining $700 million plus of tax dollars from our 500 public schools. Ask your school superintendent how much your district loses to these profit-first scams. If ya wanna go to a charter, pay for it out of your own damn pocket. Otherwise, fight for better public schools and decent paying jobs to lift people out of poverty. Poverty is the main reason for lack of achievement in schools. Read Diane Ravitch’s book Reign of Error. Check out Finland—no charter schools, unionized teachers, and healthy financial support for public schools. Oh, and the U.S. has 5x more poverty on a percentage basis than Finland. Incidentally, Finland has a mix of cultures, unlike Japan and some other countries where there is little racial diversity. So the argument that Finland has no racial or cultural problems is inaccurate. Finally, does anyone really believe the charter school people are interested in quality education? I don’t. That is their mantra and it is part of their attack on public schools. “Choice” is their other phony wedge issue. I believe the real agenda is and has always been, turning schools into businesses from which they and their Wall Street hedge fund friends can make money. Meanwhile, 70% of all charters statewide are failing the AYP tests and nearly 100% of cyber charters are failing. There is little transparency. Great “choice” for parents and kids who are tricked into leaving their local neighborhood schools. Sad commentary on the power of the special interest privatization crowd. Seven million bucks can’t even buy them a Mayor, thankfully.

  2. RLS, y r spot on! Williams lost the race, just as Corbett did, because they both were out to destroy public education in our Commonwealth by following the agenda of the “Choice in Education” lobbyists who are employed by ..the billionaires’ club (Bill and Melinda Gates, the Walton family, The Broads, Zuckerberg, the founder of Neflix, and former major Bloomberg to name a few. Those in political power, like Williams, Corbett, and many in the legislature are puppets doing the bidding of ALEC(American Legislative Exchange Council). They are puppets controlled by their puppet masters!

    Fortunately, the majority of Pennsylvania’s electorate is awakened and will not deceived by the push to privatize public education.

    http://www.Diane Ravitch.netis a great website to visit often. It will keep one abreast of what is happening all over this great country of ours.

    There is a grass roots movement to stop money and power from destroying pubic education and the American dream for our young.

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