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November 05, 2019

Jim Kenney wins re-election bid as Philadelphia mayor

But will the Democrat see his second term through or run for a higher office?

Election 2019 Mayor
Jim Kenney wins re-election as Philly Mayor Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Jim Kenney, shown here during an interview in 2017, will serve a second term as Philadelphia's mayor after he defeated Republican Billy Ciancaglini in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.

Jim Kenney was re-elected to a second term as Philadelphia's mayor on Tuesday, easily defeating his Republican challenger, Billy Ciancaglini.

As of 10:45 p.m. Tuesday with about 48% of Philadelphia's voting precincts reporting, multiple news organizations declared Kenney the winner. Kenney had received 81% of votes cast to Ciancaglini's 18.73%

MORE ELECTION COVERAGE: Democrats, progressives score historic wins across Philadelphia and suburbs

No incumbent mayor has lost a re-election bid since the city adopted a home rule charter in 1951. And in a city where registered Democrats heavily outnumber registered Republicans, it's been even longer since a Republican won the office.

Ciancaglini, a criminal defense attorney from South Philly, could not break either trend. 

A former Democrat, Ciancaglini ran a campaign opposing many of Kenney's major political policies, including his support for a safe injection site for drug users and Philly's status as a sanctuary city status. He also opposed the sweetened beverage tax, one of Kenney's primary accomplishments.

In the end, Philly voters preferred Kenney. 

Four years ago, Kenney won the office behind a diverse coalition of supporters, including progressive Millennials, key African American leaders and union leader John Dougherty, who has since been indicted on federal corruption charges. 

RELATED STORYPhilly residents react to new voting machines on election day

Kenney supported progressive policies during his first term, pushing through a controversial 'soda tax' designed to fund universal pre-K, improve parks and create a network of community schools. 

He fought against the Trump administration's legal attempts to thwart Philly's sanctuary city status and pushed for a safe injection site as a partial solution to the city's opioid crisis. And he raised the minimum wage for all city employees and contractors to $15 per hour.  

Kenney also spearheaded the dissolution of the School Reform Committee, putting the School District of Philadelphia solely under local control.  

Kenney has now secured a second term, but it remains unclear whether he will stick around to complete it out. He reportedly is mulling a run for Pennsylvania governor in 2022. Doing so would require him to resign as mayor. 

Two sources told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Kenney is considering a run to replace Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow Democrat. One source said a gubernatorial campaign was likely. The other expressed more skepticism, but said Kenney is "definitely entertaining the idea right now." 

Should Kenney resign to pursue another office, the president of City Council would become the mayor.

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