Ordinarily the results of a totally unscientific online poll wouldn't be that interesting, but the PoliticsPA Reader Survey on next year's Philadelphia District Attorney primary were fascinating for a few reasons.
While PoliticsPA's audience is relatively small, it's also disproportionately comprised of high-information influencers who work in politics, so their survey results are always worth watching. While not necessarily reflective of broad voter opinion at this stage of the DA shadow campaign, it's a snapshot of what people who pay very close attention to politics are thinking.
And what these political junkies and operatives are thinking about the Philly DA race is that Seth Williams is going to lose.
Joe Khan, a prosecutor who left his post at the U.S. Attorney's office this week, and prosecuted the political corruption cases in Allentown and Reading along with the 'Match.com rapist' case, leads the pack with 268 votes. In second place, with 242 votes, is former Managing Director Rich Negrin, who's currently an attorney at Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel.
Incumbent DA Seth Williams came in third, with 89 fewer votes than Negrin, and 115 fewer votes than Khan.
That Khan was the top choice instead of Rich Negrin is interesting, considering the fact that Negrin held a much more prominent public position than Khan and, in theory, should start out with much higher name recognition.
Further down the list of DA mentionees were former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Dan McCaffery, and Common Pleas Court Judge Renee Hughes.
Michael Untermeyer, owner of Famous 4th Street Cookie Co, who has a poll in the field, received just 4% of the--again, completely unscientific--votes.
Seth Williams has taken a beating in the press in recent weeks, over the news that he belatedly reported over $160,000 in gifts, one of which was a free $45,000 roof for his house, along with reports that the FBI is investigating his personal finances and his non-profit, the Second Chance Foundation.
Williams also got into hot water this Spring with the local chapter of the National Organization for Women and Councilwomen Cindy Bass and Helen Gym for providing safe harbor to three of the prosecutors at the center of the Porngate controversy.
This spate of stumbles and unforced errors has signaled to a slew of potential challengers that Williams is vulnerable in 2017, although it's too early to tell whether any of these scandals will stick, who will actually get in, and whether the appetite exists among donors to fund a primary challenge to the city's most powerful attorney.