One morning in late spring 2012, state Rep. John Taylor woke to find he was the lone Republican serving Philadelphia in Harrisburg. For decades, the GOP in Northeast Philadelphia had contributed five of its own to the 27-member House delegation, but retirement and scandal had decimated the ranks. The party has yet to seat a state senator from the city in this century.
It was no surprise to the 58-year-old Taylor that he found himself the last man standing. A Democrat had won a special election the night before to replace Republican Denny O’Brien, who was the other surviving Northeast Republican, until he won a City Council seat in 2011.
Neither did it worry Taylor. He was secure in his seat, despite the fact he had to face a young Democratic opponent that fall who saw the chance to knock out the delegation’s last Republican. A brash 28-year-old, William Dunbar had rightly sized up the 177th District as trending Democratic but failed to understand why Taylor continued winning elections for 28 years.
He was born in the district, which now includes parts of Port Richmond, Bridesburg and Mayfair. He went to Catholic grade and high school there. He raised his family there. He knew the neighborhoods inside out and was diligent in tending to the voters. “The go-to guy for constituent services,” was what Jimmy Tayoun’s Public Record called him in June of that year.
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