The federal bug of the Philadelphia mayor’s office helped incumbent John Street to an easy re-election victory. The Philadelphia Inquirer says the results “proved that, in Philadelphia, racial and party loyalty trump the taint of corruption that comes with a federal investigation.”
The Inquirer says victory seemed assured when Street’s opponent, Sam Katz, was recast as a conspiratorial combination of Attorney General John Ashcroft, President Bush, and the national GOP after the Oct. 7 discovery of the FBI bug.
Street surrogates stoked outrage by portraying the investigation into possible corruption as a dirty political trick and, quite possibly, motivated by racism. The bug was the defining moment of the campaign. It moved undecided voters into the Street camp and firmed up supporters who were lukewarm toward the mayor.
Street stressed his image as a “quality-of-life” mayor who brought improvements to the city’s neighborhoods. His anti-blight and Safe Streets antidrug programs enjoyed higher levels of approval in the polls than the mayor did personally.
Katz never found a way to blunt the idea that the federal investigation was a plot.