Philly GOP get to work on 2014 races. Step 1: Find candidates
With that in mind, the Philly Republican Party has begun their search for candidates.
By mass email.
In an BCC message sent out by Republican City Committee executive director Joseph DeFelice on Monday, the party takes on both Mayor Michael Nutter and recently-re-elected City Controller Alan Butkovitz as a respective “lame duck” and “mayoral wannabe” before making a plea for a Republican “A-Team” to swoop in and take on the city Democratic machine. And they need bodies.
“In the coming year, there are currently roughly Thirty Offices on the ballot for US Congress, State Senate and State Representative in Philadelphia, along with over 3,000 Committeeperson slots,” the email reads. “These individuals with be the coordinated grassroots arm of the Republican Party who can best articulate a message of change and reform for the GOP in the City rather than allowing the national media and local Democrats to frame our Party.”
It continues: “If someone is interested in joining our movement, and becoming the A-team that Philadelphia so desperately needs, please contact Republican City Committee and ask how one can make a difference on their own block, in their own neighborhood to help Philadelphia realize its full potential.”
The charge for candidates to join the local Republican party may seem a bit desperate, but in Philly politics, Republicans often have to take what they can get, and hope for the best.
Over the last few decades, Philadelphia’s House and Senate representation has been solidly Democratic. In fact, there are now just two Republicans representing Philadelphia in Harrisburg: State Rep. John Taylor of Northeast Philadelphia, and State Rep. Thomas Murt of Montgomery County and the 58th ward in the far Northeast). Republicans are outnumbered within city limits at about 8-1.
The House and Senate are both controlled by Republicans. And southeastern Pennsylvania is known as one of the commonwealth’s only solidly blue areas. Which may be partially why liberals and independents are hesitant to elect Republicans and third party candidates here.
The local GOP has been undergoing something of a renaissance as of late. They’ve upped their social media presence; shifted seats within the City Committee, making activist and lawyer DeFelice executive director and Rep. Taylor chairman; and made a coordinated effort to bring more minority voices into the party.
DeFelice tells me by email that the Republican Party has had “roughly” 20-25 potential candidates express interest in races around the city. They include former District Attorney candidate Danny Alvarez, who may be running in the 170th District in the far northeast, currently held by U.S. Congressional candidate Rep. Brendan Boyle; and Billy Pounds, an ‘07 Temple graduate whose Facebook page claims he’s not “your grandfather’s Republican.” Pounds has begun holding fundraisers to run for the 194th district in Roxborough.
Additionally, notes DeFelice, “we are committed to re-electing State Reps. John Taylor and Tom Murt and helping the governor win re-election,” he says. “Also, we are cognizant of many of the Democratic primaries; specifically in the 197th, 179th, 174th; the 13th congressional and 2nd senatorial, and hope to capitalize on disaffected Democrats.”
For the most part, Republicans in Philadelphia don’t need to choose their candidates very far in advance, and candidates don’t necessarily have to begin fundraising years ahead of time, because given the demographics, Democratic primaries often matter more than general elections here. So, Republican primaries are largely nonexistent. Which means if you’re interested in a 2-hour commute to Harrisburg come 2015, or just getting your name out there for whatever reason, the Philly GOP may want to hear from you.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article identified a Democratic candidate for the state House as a Republican.
Follow @RandyLoBasso on Twitter. It feels good.