By Jeff Gammage
As the votes rolled in, the party rolled on – big, loud and growing, a celebratory scene where a son of South Philadelphia and the son of a firefighter became the presumptive next mayor of Philadelphia.
In a ballroom where supporters cheered, danced, and sang along to Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles stood the real-life evidence of the unlikely coalition that Democratic nominee James F. Kenney created – Irish Catholics, cops and firefighters, gays and lesbians, building trades unions, black politicians who crossed the color line for a white candidate.
There were men in formal gray suits, guys in T-shirts and shorts, and one young man in a shirt that simply read, ” ‘Merica.” All came out to celebrate and be part of the victory.
“It’s a great hodgepodge,” said State Rep. Brian Sims, the first openly gay elected legislator in Pennsylvania history and an early Kenney supporter. “We wanted somebody who knew all of us and had worked with all of us.”
To lead Philadelphia today requires the skill of coalition-building, he said, “and Jim did that right out of the gate.”