Republican challenger hand-delivers letter to mayor, says she won’t ‘fade away’
Republican mayoral candidate Karen Brown threw down the gauntlet Friday morning, hand delivering a letter to Mayor Michael Nutter challenging him to take part in a series of debates before the Nov. 8 election.
“I’ve been trying to do this since the primary,” Brown said, as she waited in the second floor corridor outside the mayor’s office. “In the beginning I was told that when it gets later in the general [election season] we’ll talk about a debate. Then I was told, ‘We’ll let you know.’”
According to Brown, Nutter has avoided debating her despite repeated attempts on her part to get him to agree to at least one policy discussion. Tired of waiting, she decided to press the mayor personally rather than wait for his campaign staff to act on her suggestion.
Brown was ushered into Nutter’s office at around 9:45 a.m. When she emerged a few minutes later she said the mayor accepted the letter.
Nutter’s campaign spokesperson Sheila Simmons did not return phone calls Friday seeking comment.
Brown’s theory is that Nutter is hoping that if he ignores her she’ll simply disappear.
“I don’t think he wants to give me any more legs,” she said. “I think he’s thinking that the least time I can get with the press or any time in front of the camera will cause me to fade away.”
Asked if she planned on fading away, she replied with a sharp shake of her head: “Nah.”
The plan formally outlined in her letter suggested five debates at events throughout the city.
“If it’s in their neighborhood, people will come,” she said, then quoted the letter: “I have chosen two venues — Southwark School in South Philly and Boys Latin Charter School in West Philly and I welcome you to select venues in Center City, North Philly and the Northeast. Now more than ever it’s important for members of our communities to have a choice. I look forward to hearing from you and giving our voters a fair choice in November.”
She added that she’s open to pretty much any forum as long as the public gets compare the two candidates.
“I just want to get him in a place where I can discuss policy,” she said.
She characterized Nutter as “hostile” toward her saying that he has shushed her at several of his speaking engagements when she’s tried to ask questions. At one point, as she stood in the corridor outside Nutter’s office a security guard tried to move her along until a member of Nutter’s staff told him it was OK.
Brown, once a Democratic candidate for city council, has taken an interesting route to the Republican nomination and now appears to be the focus of a coalition of forces that oppose Nutter. They include the Republican establishment headed by the party’s general counsel Michael Meehan; renegade Republican and former candidate for the Republican nomination John Featherman and former Mayor John F. Street, a Democrat.
Nutter is expected to win in the predominately Democratic city.
However, his showing in the May primary was somewhat less than expected when Democratic challenger T. Milton Street garnered about 24 percent of the vote compared to Nutter’s 76 percent.
The race is complicated by vocal opposition from the city’s firefighter’s union and simmering tensions between the mayor and the city’s municipal unions, which have worked for his entire term without a contract.