The real issue in the Philadelphia mayoral race, say some wags, is not Mayor W. Wilson Goode or former mayor Frank Rizzo. It's who will run in 1991.
Frustration over the two choices in tomorrow's election is fairly high among the city's voters.
Mayor Goode's competence after nearly four years in office has been a central issue in the campaign. Complaints range from the controversial bombing by police of an armed group called MOVE to a perceived decline in city services.
At the same time, mistrust of Mr. Rizzo, whose eight years in office were marked by charges of police brutality and racial and ethnic polarization, is still voiced by voters.
Mr. Goode leads in the polls, and he has strong support in the black community.
Mr. Rizzo brings out crowds in some of his old neighborhood strongholds, and he is assiduously wooing the undecided voters, including many young white professionals.
Much of the dissatisfaction comes from among the most vocal, articulate, highly educated voters whose views are reflected in the city's mainstream press, says Jack Nagel, associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania.
These voters don't speak for the core constituencies of either candidate, including the city's large black community or the older, ethnic middle-class groups, Professor Nagel says. And though the bloom is off the rose for Goode among some white liberals, they have not entirely deserted him for Rizzo. The former mayor and chief of police may be playing down his ``rough edges'' in appealing to more educated white voters, but he still has genuine support among his core group.
Larry Cisler, a spokesman for Goode, says the election hinges on the values of the two men. Under Goode, he says, Philadelphians have benefited from streamlined management, model programs for the homeless and people with AIDS, increased jobs, and a building boom.
Rizzo, says Mr. Cisler, left a legacy of police brutality, corruption, financial mismanagement, and polarization. Cisler dismisses charges of declining services under Goode, insisting that services are as good as they were under Rizzo, who was receiving much more federal funding.
But Rizzo supporters say charges of brutality, corruption, and fiscal mismanagement could also be leveled at the Goode administration. The MOVE incident in 1985, in which 11 people were killed when the police placed a bomb on the roof of the home into which members of MOVE (an anti-establishment, antitechnology group) had barricaded themselves, was considered brutal by many citizens. And there was corruption surrounding the rebuilding of the neighborhood homes destroyed in the ensuing blaze.
One of the guessing games among the local press has been predicting voter turnout on Tuesday. Reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer indicate that voter registration is down, and some predict a smaller turnout than for the May primary race.