September 4-10, 2003
Calm Before The "Bomb"
Photo By: Michael T. Regan
Nine holes with the man who would be mayor.
Just after 8 a.m., there is still a hint of woodsy briskness in the air at Cobb’s Creek Golf Club, a splendid patch of grass, traps and holes nestled in the woods that separate Philadelphia from Delaware County.
It is calm. Peaceful.
The first day in a long time promising plenty of sun.
Sam Katz is walking slowly down the steep cement ramp leading to the first hole. His clubs clink together with each footfall as we make some pre-round chitchat -- warm-up for a nine-hole campaign-time inquisition.
Katz says he doesn't play much anymore. Twenty holes so far this year.
Dressed in a salmon-colored polo shirt, the man who would be mayor definitely looks like he knows how to swing.
The Katz campaign wanted to do this at a batting cage, to show that he is a man of the people. But a walk in the woods is so much better, far more conducive to conversation, so I held out for golf and here we are.
There is so much to talk about, what with the election. And for the next sweat-drenched three hours, as we chase balls, climb hills and descend through a dense, brambled jungle, Katz, at times prodded, talks.
About why Street is a disaster and why he should be the next mayor.
About taxes and the dude from Texas.
About creating jobs.
Katz talks about fixing the mistakes of the last election, his post-defeat depression and his long-ago days of inhaling.
And of course, he talks plenty about golf.
"I used to come out here when I was a kid and caddy for my dad," Katz remembers. "He was pretty good. He was a good athlete. He would play out here, once a week with his best friend, and I learned to hate golf at an early age."
Hole 1. Par 5. Dog Leg Right.
Starter Fred Evers sits in his canopied golf cart and, squinting one of those sorta-know-ya squints, says hello to Katz.
"Is this being taped?" Evers queries after seeing City Paper staff photographer Mike Regan trail Katz with his camera.
"We're with the CIA," Katz jokes as he walks on by toward the first hole.
"Nah," Evers avers. "You look more like those guys from Afghanistan."
Evers then shoots me a glance and I explain that we are neither spooks nor mujahadeen, but here to do a story on Sam Katz.
"Maybe I should get his autograph?" asks Leo Cassidy, the Cobb's Creek groundskeeper who, with his dark glasses, floppy hat and grizzled face, looks a little too much like Bill Murray in Caddyshack.
"What do you think about Sam Katz?" I ask Evers.
"I think he has the right take to be a great mayor here," he says. "I think he can bring business back into the city. That is the main thing."
"What do you think?" I ask the groundskeeper, who talks eerily like Murray as well.
"He's the man," he says, pointing to Katz, who has pulled a driver out of his bag and surveys the course. "I'm for him, I'm for Sam Katz."
Not surprisingly, Cassidy doesn't have many kind words for Street.
Photo By Michael T. Regan
"He has lip drip," offers Cassidy.
"Lip drip?" I ask. "What's lip drip?
"Lip drip is when you talk a lot, and it don't come out. It just drips," Cassidy says. "You know, I don't like that. I like a nice honest kick-in-the-ass mayor. That's what I want."
Philip Katz starts off and hits a shot straight up the fairway, at least 200 yards.
His father nods with fatherly pride and -- thwack -- hits a pretty good one of his own.
I pull out my rented metal 1-wood and dink a little flair, down the middle, but not too far.
As we walk out to retrieve our balls, I ask Katz about the pace of Katz-Street Fight 2.
"This has been a very aggressive campaign," he says. "The whole philosophy of the Katz campaign has been to hit the accelerator, and keep your foot on the accelerator, and that is the way we are going to win."
Katz keeps his foot on the accelerator and darts for his ball, which is another hundred yards up the fairway.
Not having fared so well, it takes me one more shot just to get to the fairway, where Philip is.
"Is that your ball?" Philip asks me. "I saw where my ball went."
It is, of course, my ball, by a hundred yards the furthest from the pin.
"What should I hit?
"You want to hit a 9-iron," he says. "Or a wedge. You want to hit the back end of the fairway and not be short. You want to get over the water."
Easier -- for me -- said than done. So I take a break to pepper young Katz with questions.
"I love the campaign," says Philip, whose Washington University collegiate career is on hold for a semester whilst he engages in yet another Street fight.
"I am coordinating the Students for Katz coalition," says Philip, who just turned 21. "It's a college outreach program, mobilizing students in the Philadelphia region to get them registered and volunteering to work on Election Day."
He hits a 7-iron shot that lands in the tall grass in front of the creek. I take another shot and catch up to his dad.
"The key to this game, like the key to life, is to take your time and take it easy," says Zen master Katz as we walk along to our respective balls. "Don't try to get everything done in one shot."
"Sort of like campaigning?" I ask.
"Sort of like life," he says.
Needing about two shots for every one of each Katz, I land one up the fairway near where Philip is looking for his ball.
"What's it like seeing your dad's name in the paper, good or bad?" I ask.
"I'm pretty used to it," he says. "This is the fourth time around; you kind of let the negative stuff go over your shoulder. But it's part of the running for office."
So too -- for the Katzes so far-- is losing. The loss to Street marked his third time on the wrong end of the ballot box in as many tries.
"We were watching the polls come in, down the street from the hotel where the party was," Philip says, recalling the night of the last election. "We expected a victory and it was crushing, but we were all real proud of him and how far he came and how many votes he got and how close it was, so we were upset."
But not upset enough to change his vision of the future.
The next day, Katz says, he reworked a Sam Katz for Mayor 1999 sign.
"We still have it in our kitchen," he says. "I erased 1999 and wrote 2003. Right after the election -- I knew right away."
Philip is on the green in three and two putts out for par. His father needs one more shot to get onto the green and two putts for a bogie.
By the time I drain my putt, I lost count, and a couple of balls, so I mark myself down for a 10.
On the way to the second hole, Katz is enthusiastic about, if not his game, the campaign.
"Things are going really well," he says. "I've had a great reaction to the wage-tax proposal. I am really surprised at the awareness that is out there, and we have been in African-American neighborhoods where there has been a surprising amount of positive reception."
What are blacks telling him?
"'Gotta get rid of Street,'" he says. "I hear, åHe took my car, he's knocking down houses that shouldn't be knocked down.' He's not talking to people in the neighborhoods. People don't like him. There's just a very widespread amount of universal dissatisfaction with him, and I think that we will tap into that and hopefully be able to inspire other people."
People in Center City, for instance.
"In Center City he is in trouble," Katz predicts. "That 24 percent of the vote he got there last time? I don't think he will do that again. I think people feel he has let the city's momentum slip away. I think people thought that he would give them more of Ed Rendell, and instead he gave them none of Ed Rendell."
But what about the White House, I ask Katz. Street says a lot of the city's problems stem from Katz's party mate, George Bush.
"That sounds like a good political argument," Katz says. "But the states, not just Pennsylvania -- maybe Pennsylvania a little less so than others -- the states spent themselves into trouble." Instead, Katz pins the blame on Street.
"Philadelphia loses jobs," he adds, "because we have a mayor who isn't interested and isn't working to generate them. Who hasn't figured out that taxes and service and marketing are all part of the mix."
Hole 2. Par 4. 361 yardsstraight to the pin.
Having watched him kvell over his son's long shot, I ask Katz about his approach to this hole.
"My strategy is to find my ball after I hit it," he says.
That will not be a problem. Katz crushes the ball at least 250 yards.
I slice one into the woods but my second tee shot lands in the fairway, where I hustle after Katz, who returns to zen.
"In golf, the biggest problem you have is yourself," he says. "I have tried to run my campaign this time as if this was in fact the case, just deal with the problem I am creating or the issues I have to deal with. Street has made his own problems and we've a --"
Katz stops mid-thought to utter "Nice shot" as he watches his son hit a wedge over the brook and onto the green. Then it's back to the campaign.
"We've taken advantage of them but mostly he has done it to himself."
"Would you say Street is in the rough?" I ask Katz.
"I would say he has played the entire round off of the fairway."
I hit my one good shot of the day, a wedge, lofting the ball over the brook and onto the green, a few feet from the hole.
Big deal. The Katzes each two putt out. The son double bogies. The father bogies.
As for me, there is no term, really, for six over par.
Hole 3. Par 4. 304 yards
Once again, the Katzes send balls flying straight down the middle. As I line up for my shot, Sam Katz has advice.
"Hit it like a girl," he says after observing me try to kill every little dimpled ball. "Leave your testosterone in the bag."
I take his advice.
The balls slices into the woods.
I pull another ball out of the bag.
Same swing, same result.
I give up and walk out onto the course, drop my ball and hit it with a 5-iron. Another dribbler. I hit it again, finally catching up with Katz to continue our conversation about his plan to cut the wage tax. I ask him if he is worried about the debt that will accrue after borrowing $750 million over five years.
"I am talking about a plan that is designed to take an immediate reduction in the city's wage tax, in order to help stimulate the economy," he says. "And people say, åWell, that's like Bush.' Wait a second. Walk over to City Line Avenue. On City Line Avenue, on one side of the street they have a wage tax and a business-privilege tax and 200,000 square feet of office space. The other side of the street, no wage tax, no business-privilege tax and 2.6 million square feet of office space one centimeter outside of the city limits of Philadelphia. So I think there is plenty of evidence that cutting the wage tax, cutting the business-privilege tax is going to have a component of the strategy, not by itself, to try and reverse the decline in jobs that Philadelphia has experienced for a decade. Is there an element of risk associated with this? Yes there is. But was there an element of risk associated with developing a convention center and then letting the situation with the unions run the thing into the ground? Yes there is."
Halfway to the hole, Katz stops to admire his son.
"What, what are you doing here, boy?" he asks. "Little boy, is that the 150-yard mark right there? I guess we don't need any heavy artillery here."
The shot taken, Katz returns to politics.
"This is not deficit financing," he says. "This is a job-stimulus financing package that we proposed. We're not financing the deficit that was created by an imbalance. We planned it. We recognize that is just going to happen and we are trying to bridge from an economy in which we consistently lose jobs into one in which we start to gain them. And that has no less of an important value proposition than deciding in 1992 that you are going to take a flier on the tourism and hospitality industry and 10 years later, you have 50,000 jobs in that field, or deciding, rightly or wrongly, to invest $400 million at the shipyard because you think you are going to produce a lot of jobs in shipbuilding."
Though a Republican, Katz professes confidence that he can work with Democrat Ed Rendell and the Republican-led legislature.
"I think Philadelphia has suffered because Street doesn't have relationships," he says.
Philip finishes with a 6, Sam finishes with a 5.
I put myself down for 12.
Hole 4. Par 3. 168 yards.
Photo By Michael T. Regan
"What's the strategy here?" I ask.
"Put it in the hole," Katz says.
Once again, Katz is awed by his son.
"He has a gorgeous golf swing," Katz whispers, like an announcer, as he watches Philip swing. "Look at how he finishes."
Always looking for tips, I ask Katz which club his son is using.
A 9-iron. Maybe a wedge.
"He's so confident about his game that he waited until those guys in the carts moved because he was afraid he'd hit them."
Philip drives it deep onto the green.
"Nice shot!" Katz yells. "Nice shot!"
Katz has a pretty nice shot of his own. It takes me another couple hacks to catch up as I hurriedly swing and run over to ask questions, sweat pouring down my face.
"When I interviewed Street, he said he didn't know of one job you created. How do you respond?"
"Well, Public Financial Management [PFM], which was two people when we started in 1976 --"
He stops to watch his son take a rare bad shot, into the woods.
"Hit it again," he shouts, before returning to his spiel without missing a beat.
"When I left it in 1994 it had a 190 people, $27 million in revenue and I was making a great living. Half a million dollars. Today, PFM -- nine years later -- is the leading municipal finance company. They have over 300 people, $50 million -- good shot!"
As I take my turn, Katz takes my tape recorder and ticks off a list of his accomplishments: Orlando International Airport, deals with Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Memphis, St. Louis and Yonkers.
"I did the Los Angeles transit system financing. I did MARTA Atlanta transit system financing. The Washington transit system financing. I did airports in Charleston, Orlando, Philadelphia. PFM, we had 16 offices, now they have 28. It says a lot about a guy who starts a company with another guy, builds it up, leaves it and instead of weakening, the company gets stronger. That's not something that Ed Rendell could say that he did. His succession planning for Philadelphia was not particularly good."
"Why's that?" I ask, realizing quickly that Katz set me up as the straight man.
"He left us with John Street."
And the Katzes each leave this hole with a bogie 4.
I take more shots than both combined. Another 12.
Hole 5. Par 4. 413 yards.
The creek runs through it twice.
Once again, the Katzes blast their tee shots. Mine slices right and hits a tree with a loud thud, followed by less audible thuds as the ball hits branches on the way down. My next shot misses the trees as well as the fairway and disappears up a hill. I pull another ball out of my dwindling supply, put it down and keep swinging until I catch up to Katz.
Enough about Street. I ask Katz about the lawsuit, first reported by the Inky, involving a situation wherein one of his former associates pleaded guilty to embezzlement.
"Have I invested in things that didn't work?" he asks rhetorically. "Yes I have. Community Sports Partners obviously didn't work. It didn't work for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was that one of my employees turned out not to be a particularly good person. That was the guy who embezzled money from the company and then the investors sued and I followed with a countersuit. It's in discovery right now. In 30 years, this is the first business lawsuit I have been involved in. I believe we will win. I am very comfortable with our case and very confident about our position."
Seeing that I am in the same shape as Community Sports Partners, Katz makes a suggestion.
"I would use a wedge and just try to get it on the fairway so you have a shot for the green," he says. "Easy swing. Get it close to the edge of the fairway so you can get on there."
As we walk toward the green, Katz says his son should get a haircut. Philip disagrees.
Is there a family controversy brewing?
"Nah, we don't have many of those," answers Katz.
How's it been for the family on the trail?
"I have four kids," he says. "My wife has been great. She has subbed for me at a couple of events. My son is full time. He took a leave of absence and has been a great asset, because he is a calming influence. Lauren is graduating from Tufts. She is working part time on the campaign, travels with me at night, also a lot of fun to be with. I enjoy having her. Ben is working on the campaign, but he is at camp. He will be back on Saturday."
Before Katz can talk about his youngest daughter, Elizabeth, I run after Philip.
"What do your friends think about your role in the campaign? Can you go out and party?"
"I turned 21 this summer," he says. "My friends love it. I have my fun. Work hard, play hard."
Do you feel you have to be a little more careful?
"I'm careful," he says. "I follow the rules. You do have to be a little more aware being in the public eye, but I am good."
"What's the worst trouble you ever got into?"
"The worst trouble?" he asks, smiling. "I am a perfect child."
"Oh, he had a run-in with beer one day," says dad. "He was not entirely innocent, but he wasn't as guilty as the punishment he got."
As long as we are on the subject of family, I ask Katz what it was like to lose the last time out, in 1999.
"I told them all over as soon as it was 9 o'clock," he recalls. "The first returns were obviously an African-American division. It was 97-3. Ben looked at me and said, åWe're toast.' And so, I kind of looked at him and said, åYou know what, we've got a problem.' Ninety-seven to 3 said something pretty powerful about what was going on."
Early results did not match the polling data, Katz says.
"So I am sitting there for most of the night, absolutely dumbfounded. That we could be so far off and that this thing was such a blowout."
At this point, Katz says, he wanted to call it a campaign.
"I want to go to the Bellevue and concede," he says. "I want to get this over with. And [campaign manager] Bob Barnett told me to relax, relax, we don't have the results yet. And around midnight, 11 o'clock, things started moving. Eighteen, 17, 14, 12. At about a quarter to 1 it was 5 and I said, åThat's enough, let's go.' We walked into the Bellevue, the crowd was yelling, åNo! No! No!' Because now it was 3 and then it was 2."
Katz starts to laugh.
"If I waited another hour," he jokes, "we would have won."
This time, Philip two putts out. His dad taps one from about a foot away. The ball lips and rolls away. Katz, disgusted, picks up the ball and moves on.
Philip gives himself a six, Sam Katz a five.
I lose count and put down another dozen.
Hole 6. Par 4. 279 yards.
The Katzes easily clear the creek in front of the tee and wind up in good shape on the fairway. My two shots bounce off rocks in the creek just yards from the tee. So I drop another one across the water.
The conversation turns to auto insurance.
"I won't just file lawsuits," he says, taking a swipe at Street. "I have a whole plan. I am going to announce it shortly. I have been working on it for quite a while."
I ask Katz for details. No luck.
"I am not going to give you the plan," he says. "It has a lot of technical details. It will show the very clear differences between John Street and Sam Katz. John Street has had auto insurance on his plate for three and a half years. On the eve of re-election, when Frank DiCicco offers a bill to create an office of insurance advocate, Street says, åNo, no, we need a consumer advocate.' Well, OK, we didn't need one for three and a half years but we need one now? And we don't need an auto insurance advocate, because auto insurance isn't the only important thing. But where have you been? We had a task force that Rendell started. He fired the head of the task force, Susan Schulman. The task force on auto insurance premium reductions had recommendations on the table. He fired Susan Schulman and the task force made a lot of recommendations, most of which he ignored. What does he do? He files a lawsuit."
I press Katz again for details. Again he refuses.
I ask Katz what he learned from the '99 loss.
"We are not leaving anything in the locker room," he says.
"Did you leave anything in the locker room last time?"
"Yes," he answers. "We were genteel, we were friendly, we were nice. åGood to see you, John, how are you doing?'"
After deflecting a question about how many of his events seem attended by suburbanites who can't vote for him -- "I had 212,000 votes last time. That's a lot of votes" -- Katz responds by questioning the media.
"I think the problem a lot of the media has covering this campaign -- and I am not saying this is going to be true throughout the whole campaign -- they don't wander very far from their offices," he says. "And there is a whole city out there and I have been wandering through it. And, from Northeast Philadelphia, Southeast, Southwest, South Philadelphia, Manayunk, Roxborough, a lot of those -- that's where the votes are, not in the office and not in the offices."
Katz hits a nice shot to the edge of the green, his best shot of the day. Again I need several more to catch up.
"A couple of police officers told me you want to bring [former Police Commissioner John] Timoney back. Is this true?" I ask.
"No," says Katz. "That's a rumor that the Street campaign put out because they are doing so poorly with police officers despite getting the FOP endorsement."
"This comes from a guy with no ties to Street," I nudge, "so it can't be something from their campaign."
For the first time all day, Katz gets a wee bit testy.
"I haven't had any conversation with John Timoney since I called to congratulate him on his appointment to police chief of Miami, and anyone who tells you that I have had one is making it up," he snorts. "I also have made a public statement that I intend to keep Sylvester Johnson. Anybody who tells you differently isn't listening to what I said. And I just think all of that is designed by the Street campaign to create the erroneous impression that I have a problem with Sylvester and I don't."
Sam Katz one-putts for the only par of the day. Philip Katz takes a double-bogie 5 and I am consistent if nothing else -- another 12.
Hole 7. Par 5. 470 yards.
More Katz bombs, more stay shots for me.
By the time I catch up to father and son they are almost all the way down the fairway.
Katz talks about Street's likely campaign strategy.
"He'll bring in Clinton and presidential candidates and Ted Kennedy and all of them," he says. "And why do they do it? Because their candidate can't win, they have to change the subject."
"What about the unions?" I ask Katz. "Obviously street muscle is a big deal on Election Day."
"I am confident that we will have an election day operation that will be superior to what we had four years ago," Katz answers. "I think the effort that is going into it and the focus we have had since the day we started the campaign -- I am not ready to call it a machine. A machine never loses, so first we'll win one, then we'll give it names.
"I think they have already recognized that they are in trouble and they didn't recognize they were in trouble last time until the last two weeks of the election," Katz adds. "And that is a big difference. You don't have anybody running this campaign? Who's running it?"
Katz walks over near the green looking for his ball.
"Am I in the trap?" he asks.
"No," says his son. Katz finds his ball on the other side of the trap, in the rough just off the green.
"How many spokespeople do they have?" Katz asks before taking his shot. "They have Shawn Fordham sometimes. Mark Nevins. Frank Keel and Dan Fee. Where's my ball?"
"Right there," says the son.
Katz pitches it onto the green.
"They are completely disorganized," he says of his opponent. "And it is an administration that is completely disorganized."
"I don't see any message," he says. "There are no new ideas. There's no vision being presented to the public. There is nothing positive. There are 18 press releases, 11 of them are attacks."
This has been a rough hole for all of us. Sam Katz takes a 7 while his son takes a 6. I stick with the dirty dozen.
Hole 8. Par 3. 193 yards.
While the Katzes get close to the green, I am ready to pack it in. I have lost all 15 balls I bought, plus three balls the Katzes have given me and another half dozen that we found.
Photo By Michael T. Regan
"Is this race going to get ugly?" I ask Katz.
"No," he says.
"I think we are both too good-looking."
Still, Katz has more disparaging things to say about Street and his campaign.
"They put up John McDermott," he says, referring to the hatemonger who eventually would get thrown off the ballot. "What does that say? I want to ask you something and I want to say it off the record --"
Back on, Katz returns to his sniping.
"This is the gang that couldn't shoot straight," he says. "They filed 3,500 petitions, 1,270 of the people are not registered voters. Another 300 of them don't live in Philadelphia. Aside from all the forgeries, they have two notaries for the affidavits. One guy in one day does 65 of them; he is now on a permanent vacation so he can't be subpoenaed. It is a joke. They are incompetent. Let's just say if you are going to engage in a time-honored tradition, at least get the guy on the ballot."
Philip finishes with a 4, Sam Katz with a 5.
Twelve for me, please.
Hole 9. Par 4. 264 yards.
I am done. I take a step back to let the Katzes finish their game.
Father hits a 5, son hits a 4, but the father wins by a shot.
"Will you be glad when this is over?" I ask Katz as we begin our long trudge back to the clubhouse. "It seemed like the last time, the results took a little out of you."
"Mostly," Katz answers, "because the end was not only disappointing, I was not blame-free. I didn't do a couple of things that were basic blocking and tackling, organizing a campaign that was focused on field and get out the vote, so the turnout in my base was less than the turnout in John's base, Everyone says, åLook at that great machine,' but the Democratic machine performed poorly. Just that we didn't have anything, we didn't do anything and I had no one to blame but me. So I blamed me, and when you blame yourself for something -- I wasn't really able to look at it and see how much good it was. And how successful in many ways it was because it didn't achieve the ultimate goal of winning. I beat myself up pretty badly and for entirely too long."
"How long?" I ask.
"Oh, a good year," he says.
"Were you depressed?"
"Yes, I was. I didn't want to be around people. I certainly didn't want to be seen around the public, I think that the opportunity to run Greater Philadelphia First under a set of circumstances that made it possible for me to keep my hand in my business activities turned out to be great."
"Do you feel better prepared to handle the outcome this time?"
"Yes I do. I think I got into it with a belief that we could win, but with a better understanding of the severity of the slope."
"Did that come up in discussions with your family about running again?" Katz nods as we continue to walk in the hot sun.
"I had to persuade Connie that I would not behave the same way that I did in 1999 because it didn't work out," he says.
The more we walk, the hotter it gets and the more sweat pours down our faces. Coming to what looks to be a pathway through the woods near the 16th hole, Philip -- with all the confidence of Magellan -- says he is sure this is a shortcut back to the clubhouse.
Katz hesitates but his son insists.
"I don't think he trusts your judgment," I joke as Philip pushes back some branches as he peers into the woods.
"I think we have to follow our instincts," Katz says as his son makes his way into the dense growth.
"And your instinct says?" I ask.
"Walk down the hill and follow my son."
I have my doubts.
"You're the mayoral candidate," I say, reluctantly agreeing to what would soon turn out to be a bungle in the jungle. "I'm just a reporter."
In minutes the seeming shortcut turns into a thicket of cut-inducing thornbushes that ensnare skin and golf equipment alike.
My pull cart gets particularly entangled and clubs start falling out as I tip it and tug it in an effort to escape.
For several sweaty minutes, Katz and I struggle to get the cart down the hill. Then, his clubs, followed by his club heads, tumble out of his bag and spill into the hilly forest, forcing Katz to battle with the thick undergrowth.
Despite the cuts to his epidermis and his ego, Katz endures with a sense of humor. We all start laughing when I quiz the son on his choice of direction.
"Where did you get your navigational skills?" I ask.
"From my dad."
As we continue to walk in the hot sun, Katz notices that we are passing the fourth hole -- not too far from the clubhouse. Our conversation turns to police tactics.
He is not a fan of Street's Safe Streets program.
"It is dependent on overtime and it's only got a short shelf life anyway," he says. "Safe Streets zones -- inside of them are good, but then all around them there are pockets of crime. It is a hard thing."
"Should we legalize drugs?" I ask.
"No," he says. "I don't think being on drugs is a way of being productive. There are plenty of drugs that people take that are legal. And crack cocaine and heroin are not going to make people healthy citizens."
"Did you ever inhale?" I ask.
"Yes, I did," he answers.
"How long ago?"
"Are you talking about marijuana?" Katz asks. "Let's see, what year would that be? I was a student in college in the '60s."
Katz then breaks into a spoken-word riff on Joni Mitchell's famous Woodstock lyrics.
"I came upon a child of God," he says, flatly. "And he was walking along the road. And I asked him tell me, where are you going and this he told me. I'm going on down to Yasgur's farm to join a rock 'n' roll band. Gonna get back to the land and set my soul free."
"You just got another 7,000 or 8,000 votes," I joke.
"And you lost 20,000," his son says, semi-joking.
"I think the joke from my generation was not whether you inhaled, but whether you exhaled," Katz says.
"When did you stop inhaling?" I ask.
"A long time ago," he says. "I smoked cigarettes till I was 37 and I inhaled those. I am 53 and more recently I have taken up the occasional smoking of cigars."
Walking up the hill to the clubhouse, Katz says the campaign has certainly been interesting.
"I've gone skateboarding," he says. "I have done salsa dancing and I have played golf with Howard Altman. I have gone to gay bars. Been in great Irish bars. And I feel like I have been all over the place, every kind of celebration and I am having a lot of fun."
Geno, who drives the Katz mobile, is not having so much fun as he waits nervously at the clubhouse to whisk Katz away to his next event.
Before Katz heads to the van for a change of clothes, he has a parting thought.
"The next time we do this," he says, "we should try croquet."