The race to be the next mayor of Philadelphia

Welcome to the Monday, April 17, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ten candidates running in Democratic primary for Philadelphia mayor
  2. The election laws Democratic, Republican lawmakers are most focused on this year
  3. Republican governors have issued 273 executive orders this year, Democrats with 154

Ten candidates running in Democratic primary for Philadelphia mayor

Ten candidates are running in the Democratic primary for mayor of Philadelphia on May 16. The winner will face David Oh—the only candidate seeking the Republican nomination—in the Nov. 7 general election. Philadelphia has not elected a Republican mayor since Bernard Samuel, whose term ended in 1952.

Incumbent Jim Kenney (D), first elected in 2015, is term-limited.’s Asha Prihar, Jordan Levy, Meir Rinde, and Clifton Jackson wrote, “With Philly’s 7-to-1 voter registration imbalance between the two major parties, the winner of the May Democratic primary is highly likely to win the general election this fall.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Aseem Shukla and Julia Terruso wrote, “Philadelphians across the board think the city is headed in the wrong direction … And they’re united on what they think the most important issue is: crime.”

Jeff Brown, Allan Domb, Helen Gym, Cherelle Parker, and Rebecca Rhynhart lead in fundraising and media attention.

Domb, Gym, Parker, and Rhynhart all held elected positions in the city until beginning their mayoral campaigns last year. Philadelphia has a resign-to-run rule where candidates who are city employees or hold public office in the city must resign from those positions before seeking another office.

The city’s largest labor union—AFSCME District Council 33—endorsed Brown, a grocery store chain owner, last January. Brown said, “I want to be mayor to serve the people of our city, address structural poverty and make this the city we all deserve.”

Domb, a real estate agent, was elected an at-large member of the Philadelphia City Council in 2015. Domb said he was running “because Philadelphia is in crisis and needs a leader who has the experience and vision needed to take on our biggest challenges.”

Gym, a former executive director of Asian Americans United, also served as an at-large member of the city council starting in 2015. Gym said she was running “to finish a job I started 30 years ago, when I was a teacher and a tough Philly mom who refused to accept broken systems, took on tough challenges and organized alongside communities for change.”

Parker is a former state representative who was elected to the city council in 2016, becoming the body’s majority leader in 2020. Parker said she “focused on public safety, stabilizing ‘middle neighborhoods,’ economic opportunity … and working to get city government to function like it should.”

Rhynhart, a former director at Bear Stearns, was elected Philadelphia City Controller in 2018, before which she served as the city’s treasurer, budget director, and chief administrative officer. Rhynhart is campaigning on her experience, saying she used it “to expose wasteful spending and make government work more effectively with an emphasis on equity, fairness and social justice.”

Unlike other mayoral elections we’ve mentioned in the Brew, Philadelphia’s are partisan, meaning the winner of this primary will appear on the general election ballot with a party label.

Of the country’s 100 most-populous cities, Philadelphia is one of 62 with a Democratic mayor. Twenty-six have Republican mayors, and 10 are independent or nonpartisan. Ballotpedia could not identify the partisan affiliation of two mayors.

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The election laws Democratic, Republican lawmakers are most focused on this year

State legislators have introduced 2,385 election-related bills so far this year. That’s down 4.6% from the 2,494 we were tracking at this point last year.

But when it comes to what these lawmakers are focusing on, there are a few topics where the two major parties differ.

Democratic lawmakers have introduced more bills concerning:

  • Voter qualifications: who is eligible to vote, including youth voting, voting for people convicted of felonies, and noncitizen voting;
  • Alternative voting methods: adoption or governance of things like ranked-choice voting, online voting, or non-traditional primaries (i.e. top-two); and,
  • Voter assistance: regulating the types of assistance available to voters regardless of their voting method.

Republican lawmakers have introduced more bills concerning:

  • Conflicts between levels of government: addressing conflicts between election laws and procedures at different levels of government;
  • Voting security: security and chain of custody requirements for ballots and polling places or drop boxes; and,
  • Ballot verification: how officials verify the legitimacy of a ballot, including things like voter ID laws, signature matching, and ballot-curing procedures.

These trends are similar to those we saw in 2022. 

Democratic lawmakers introduced a larger percentage of bills than Republicans on alternative voting methods, voter qualifications, and early, in-person voting last year.

And Republican lawmakers introduced a larger percentage of bills than Democrats regarding ballot verification, voting security, and audits and oversight.

While these are the topics with the largest partisan sponsorship gaps, the three topics that have had the most legislation this year, regardless of sponsorship, are:

  • Voter registration and list maintenance: how voters register and how that registration is maintained over time;
  • Contest-specific procedures: any rules of regulations relating to specific types of elections like municipal, primaries, and recalls; and,
  • Ballot access: how candidates, parties, or ballot measures qualify to appear on the ballot and regulations on their placement.

The graphic below shows the 10 topics that have had the most activity so far this year.

To date, 77 election-related bills have been signed into law. Democrats sponsored 12 and Republicans sponsored 41. The remaining 24 either had bipartisan or some other type of sponsorship.

To view the full list of election-related legislation by topic, and more, subscribe to The Ballot Bulletin, our weekly newsletter that delivers the latest updates on election policy. Every week, we track legislative activity, big-picture trends, recent news and in-depth data from our Election Administration Legislation Tracker.

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Republican governors have issued 273 executive orders this year, Democrats with 154

The country’s 26 Republican governors have issued a collective 273 executive orders this year, representing 64% of 425 issued nationwide. The 24 Democratic governors have issued 152, or 36%.

Governors use executive orders to manage executive branch operations not directly addressed in law.

Govs. Brian Kemp (R-Ga.) and Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) lead the nation, having issued 123 and 64 orders, respectively, since Jan. 1. Collectively, Kemp and DeSantis account for 68% of all executive orders from Republicans and 44% of all executive orders nationwide.

The larger number of executive orders in Georgia and Florida can be attributed to two unique factors. In Georgia, unlike most states, the governor uses executive orders to appoint and reappoint members of state boards and judges. Similarly, the governor uses these orders in Florida to assign state attorneys, a practice uncommon elsewhere.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) has issued 39 executive orders, the most among Democratic governors and the third-most overall.

Nineteen governors—11 Democrats and eight Republicans—have issued fewer than five orders this year, and 13—three Democrats and 10 Republicans—have not issued any. 

Here are a few recent executive orders:

  • Arizona: Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) issued an order on March 7 creating a task force on missing and murdered indigenous people.
  • Indiana: Gov. Eric Holcombe (R) issued an order on April 4 declaring a disaster emergency in several counties in response to recent severe storms and flooding in the area.
  • New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued an order on April 4 saying the state will not cooperate with other states seeking to charge a person with a crime for receiving gender-affirming healthcare in New Jersey.
  • Utah: Gov. Spencer Cox (R) issued an order on March 21 detailing how and when state properties should fly the state’s historic flag. This order came the same day Cox signed into law a bill creating a new state flag, though voters may weigh in with a pending veto referendum.

We identified 1,558 gubernatorial executive orders in 2022: 961 from Republicans (62%) and 597 from Democrats (38%). 

Kemp led with 458 (30% of the total issued), followed by DeSantis with 272 (18%), and Lujan Grisham with 164 (11%).

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