Politics is replacing the 76ers' bid for the pro basketball championships as the big game in the nation's fourth largest city. The prize is the office of mayor. The candidate to beat is W. Wilson Goode, whose ultimate goal is to become Philadelphia's first black mayor.
His first step will be to win the Democratic primary today. His chief adversary is Frank L. Rizzo, former law-and-order two-term mayor and ex-police commissioner. Mr. Rizzo is the underdog making a seasoned campaigner's comeback.
Standing by to challenge the Democratic winner are three Republican hopefuls: Charles F. Dougherty, a former US congressman; Tom Gola, a former pro basketball star; and John J. Egan Jr., chairman of the Philadelphia stock exchange.
Although no Republican has been elected mayor since 1950, the three candidates hope to pull an upset, assuming that Goode is the Democratic nominee. People here insist Philadelphia isn't Chicago. But it is felt that many white Democrats will switch loyalties rather than vote for a black mayor.
On the final weekend before the primary, Goode and Rizzo worked to inspire their most ardent supporters to get the voters to the polls. On Sunday, Goode worshipped for three hours at First Baptist Church of Paschall, where he is chairman of the deacons and a longtime member. Rizzo spent Sunday afternoon marching in a three-hour parade as grand marshal in his stronghold, South Philadelphia.
Goode hopes to capture 90 percent of the black vote and 20 percent of the white. Some 53 percent of the 900,000 registered Democrats are white, and 44 percent are black. Rizzo seeks to recapture the old magic that made him a popular mayor and commissioner in his heyday.