ABOVE PHOTO: Maria Quiñones-Sánchez (Photo/Quiñones-Sánchez campaign website)
Because she didn’t see a way she could continue to compete on a financial level, former Councilmember Maria Quinones Sanchez has suspended her campaign for Mayor of Philadelphia.
By Denise Clay-Murray
When she resigned from Philadelphia City Council last year to make a run at the Democratic nomination for Mayor, Maria Quinones Sanchez believed that her brand of pragmatic progressivism would rule the day.
She also didn’t think that she’d have to compete with 10 other candidates in a race that’s already had more than $22 million pumped into it, including $7 million from one of the two millionaires in the race.
After the latest set of campaign finance reports was released last week, Quinones Sanchez saw the handwriting on the wall. And what it said to her is that finding the kind of money she needed to stay in the mayor’s race wasn’t going to happen for her.
“When those reports were filed on Wednesday, we knew that people had changed the name of this game,” she said. “And the fact is that City Hall is up for sale, and there’s some people with a lot of money willing to buy it.”
Because of this, Maria Quinones Sanchez announced this week that she’s suspending her mayoral campaign.
In an interview with the PhillyCAM radio show, “The Philadelphia Hall Monitor” on Wednesday, the former councilmember said that this for-sale sign, and the money it seems to have attracted, had turned this race into something she didn’t recognize.
The so-called “Millionaires Exemption,” which allows all candidates to raise money beyond campaign minimums when a person loans his or her campaign $250,000 or more, was activated early in the campaign.
“We had 500 donors and we had raised over $800,000,” she said. “And under normal circumstances, if everyone were in that range of $800,000 to $1 million or a million and a half, which is what a race like this should normally cost, I think we could have been more competitive.”
“But when you’re talking to donors who are very gracious and very supportive and you know that based on Wednesday’s reporting, you have self-funded folks and folks with access to money who are willing to put in a lot more money, making this the most expense our city has seen, I had a responsibility to the supporters and the donors to say that as much as you’re giving and are continuing to give, we can’t compete,” Quinones Sanchez continued.
To make the playing field more equitable for everyone, Quinones Sanchez introduced a bill in council that would call for public financing of campaigns. In light of this being the most expensive mayor’s race in the city’s history, she reiterated that call during the Hall Monitor interview.
Before throwing her hat in the mayoral ring, Quinones Sanchez was the first Latina in City Council, representing the Kensington-based 7th Council District for 15 years. The majority Latino district and its issues were among the things that motivated her to enter the campaign.
In an interview with the SUN shortly after the announcement of her resignation from Council, Quinones Sanchez said she wanted to become the mayor in order to fix the problems she saw in her district that required more than she could give as a councilperson.
While she’s bowing out, Quinones Sanchez intends to continue advocating for these issues, through Agenda Latina, which includes such things as creating an affordable housing subsidy program, better language access for everyone needing city services, and Latino representation throughout the next mayor’s administration. She is hoping that one of her former opponents takes up the agenda.
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