It’s been rumored for some time that real estate magnate and Philadelphia City Councilman Allan Domb has been eying a run for mayor this year.
Domb has been on the outs with Mayor Jim Kenney, and some have called on the deep-pocketed former “condo king” of Philadelphia to run for City Hall’s top job.
But there hasn’t been much in the way of evidence. That is, until campaign finance reports released last week showed that Domb’s campaign shelled out $31,900 to GBA Strategies, a Washington, D.C.-based political polling firm last year.
Although it is on the lower end of costs for citywide polling, the October 2018 polling contract was the largest single expense made by any Council member.
Franklin & Marshall College professor Terry Madonna said political campaigns generally pay for similar polling to “test the waters ahead of a candidacy” –– in other words, to see if they might have a shot at moving up in the political world.
“Folks who want to seek higher office very often will have pollsters interview prospective voters … and test not just measures and policies and positions, but they’ll also poll on their own viability,” he said.
Domb said the online poll had been conducted merely to test public opinion on an array of issues.
“We wanted to find out what issues were important to residents of the city, and we did some polling around those issues … educational issues, financial issues, sanctuary city issues,” Domb said. “It was a report card-type thing. How did I do? Am I on track?”
Domb said the pollsters had asked “five or six or seven” questions about what residents wanted to see Council do in the coming year. But the councilman said he wasn’t sure if the pollsters had asked questions about his political viability or the 2019 mayoral race.
“I would have to check. I don’t have it in front of me,” he said. “Most of it was around issues.”
Domb’s campaign later declined to discuss the poll in any detail. Spokesman Dan Fee declined to release any of the results, and he also declined to say if Domb would run for mayor.
City Council lobbyist Mustafa Rashed offered another explanation: That Domb could have been making sure he’ll survive the increasingly competitive race for at-large Council seats.
“To run for that job is so challenging,” Rashed said. “I think he should be polling to see where he stands.”
As of publication, 21 individuals, including incumbents, had declared their candidacy for the five citywide Council seats. At-large Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown has announced she will not seek re-election.