GOP VERSUS THE MACHINE: AS DEMOCRAT LIST FOR PHILLY MAYOR GROWS, REPUBLICANS LOOK FOR A CANDIDATE
November 19, 2014
In A City Where Democrats Outnumber Republicans 8 to 1, Philadelphia GOP Fights Odds And Image
by Jeffrey D Kolakowski @jdkolakowski
Today, the 2015 Philadelphia Mayor’s race will double on the Democrats side. Two well known names will announce their campaigns. State Senator Anthony Hardy Williams and former District Attorney Lynne Abraham will join former City Solicitor Ken Trujillo and Terry Gillen, ex-aide to Mayor Michael Nutter, in a race to be the Democratic nominee for Mayor.
And, after the May primary, the Democratic nominee will be the next mayor. Or so it may be assumed.
Philadelphians have not elected a Republican mayor in over sixty years since voting Bernard “Barney” Samuel in for the second of two terms in 1948.
Being a Republican in the City of Brotherly Love puts one in a minority. Around 12 percent of registered voters identify as GOP.
Some Republicans register as Democrats so they can have a say in who becomes mayor by having a vote in the primary.
Joe DeFelice, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Republican City Committee, spoke to me about what the party will attempt to accomplish in an effort to sway voters in 2015, and beyond.
City Republicans plan on repeating the theme of Democrat complacency and taxes over the next year.
DeFelice believes familiarity has bred criminality, pointing out court cases and investigations involving judges and city political representatives like former Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes and State Senator LeAnna Washington. DeFelice sees the Democrats as being comfortable and working for themselves and not their constituents, no fear of being voted out.
He hears dismay on the streets over increased taxes, looking no further than the recent cigarette tax to fund Philly public schools. Add that to sales tax, stormwater tax, wage tax and business privilege tax increases which leads to residents wanting to leave Philadelphia’s boundaries.
DeFelice says there is an interesting dynamic happening as empty-nesters and Millennials move into Center City and surrounding neighborhoods. Those who lived in the Philly suburbs and other towns are now transplanted into the city and retain positive feelings towards Republican policy they experienced.
The Millennials are a group to target indicates DeFelice. Those who are Libertarian or Independent with Republican leanings want less government, less taxes and less spending. They have political beliefs which fall in line with city Republicans. The younger age group is
an important percentage of the city’s population and economy, but there may be a problem when it comes time to settling down. A Pew survey published this year say half of those 20-34 year olds who live here plan to move out in five to ten years. The Republicans see the tax issue as a major factor contributing to this and hope it moves Millennials to the GOP.
There is a stereotypical image of a “Republican” that the Philly GOP is hoping to erode. A look at November’s General Election shows the changing face of the GOP, believes DeFelice. Armond James and Megan Rath both ran as Republicans against longtime Philadelphia Democrats Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady. Both James and Rath lost, but DeFelice is happy with the exposure they and the party gained. Armond is a black male in his 30′s. Rath is a millennial female.
Danny Alvarez, who ran as Republican against Seth Williams for District Attorney in 2013, is of Hispanic heritage. Alvarez won several wards but was unsuccessful in his challenge.