Hours after President Obama was re-elected, Mayor Michael Nutter sought to end speculation that he could be headed to the White House.
"Absolutely, 100 percent, I'm not going anywhere," Nutter said yesterday. "I love this job, I love this city. I have work still to do and I look forward to working with President Obama in his second term by finishing out my second term and doing some great things for this great city."
Nutter has been a loyal Obama supporter and serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, leading some to speculate that he could be headed for a position within the Obama administration. But Nutter said he has made it clear to White House officials he is not interested in another job until his term ends in January 2016.
"I've made it very clear that I'm not going anywhere, so there's no need to ask the question. ... I've only responded to this because [the media] asked me about it, but the folks in the White House know very, very clear my intentions, which are to serve as the mayor of the city of Philadelphia, fulfill my term and, again, I think I can best help the president in a second term by finishing my second term and doing my work right here in Philadelphia," he said.
Nutter was re-elected last year by defeating Republican Karen Brown. Nutter's status as a lame duck mayor could impact his relationship with Council over the next few years, especially on controversial issues like property-tax assessments. Possible candidates to replace Nutter includes City Council members Jim Kenney, Bill Green, Blondell Reynolds Brown, City Controller Alan Butkovitz and state Rep. Anthony "Hardy" Williams.
Senate or bust ... or D.C. after all?
While Nutter shot down rumors that he might be headed to Washington, D.C, it will not end speculation about his political future with three years left in his final term.
Political consultant Larry Ceisler characterized Nutter’s commitment to finish out his term as “what one would expect him to say. He could always change his mind if the right thing came along.”
If Nutter is interested in pursuing another elected office, he could challenge U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in 2016.
“I think he’d be very comfortable in the Senate, so I could see him wanting to run against Toomey, and certainly coming out of Philadelphia in the southeast I think that he’d be a formidable challenger for Toomey … We just don’t know what the political environment is going to be at that time,” Ceisler said.
Since the mayor has ruled out Washington, D.C., under President Obama, He’ll have big decisions to make in 2016. Here’s some options:
Challenge Pat Toomey: The conservative Republican U.S. senator’s term is over at the end of 2016, perfect timing for Nutter to mount a yearlong campaign after the mayor’s term ends in January of same year.
Challenge Chaka Fattah: Both men from West Philadelphia haven’t been particularly close since Nutter upset Fattah and others for the mayor’s office in 2007. The race would be one of the city’s best in years.
Go for governor: The timing isn’t good for Nutter. He’ll have to wait until 2018, which seems light years away.
Teach at Wharton: Going back to take a faculty position at his alma mater seems better than trying again for a City Council seat. Then again, he’d be following in the footsteps of now Temple University professor John Street.