As the Muppets said, it’s not easy being green.
This thought has relevance today because we’re creeping up on May 19, the date of the primary election in which Philadelphians will pick their party’s candidate for mayor.
And almost inevitably, the Democrats’ pick becomes mayor. The question today is: why can’t the GOP field a real challenger?
We asked a few Republican leaders about the party’s status – and can you believe it? — ducking the question was the order of the day.
In truth a blind man riding by on horseback could figure this one out.
Philadelphia is called home by 776,585 registered Democrats, according to voter registration records.
As for Republicans, there are 112,189 of them, which would be a wonderful number in Elk County.
Democrats thusly outnumber Republicans by nearly 7 to 1.
And that is the reason.
Joe DeFelice, executive director of the Philadelphia Republican party, and the only prominent Republican who would talk on the record about the party’s candidate problem, agrees the number of GOP voters in one of two reasons.
The other is the money factor.
Joe figures it would cost about $3 million for the party to put on a credible campaign. Just so you get the complete picture, Mayor Michael Nutter, now finishing his second term, raised nearly $8 million to win in 2007.
“I mean it’s an uphill battle, it’s tough,” Joe said.
Ever the optimist, Joe says his task is to convince a wide swath of the population – presumably including many of the 776,585 Democrats – that they should vote Republican.
Joe figures he has two big issues that could drive registered Democrats to vote against their party: taxes, a GOP perennial, and corruption involving Democrats.
He’s got plenty of fuel: Former state treasurer Rob McCord resigned in January and pleaded guilty last month to extortion for using his office to pressure donors for campaign contributions.
Former state Rep. J.P. Miranda pleaded guilty in January to abuse of office for hiring his sister as chief of staff and concealing her employment by funneling her pay through a ‘ghost employee.’
Last year, a grand jury recommended criminal charges against Democrat Attorney General Kathleen Kane over allegations she leaked confidential documents from a 2009 grand jury investigation.
Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams, a Democrat, charged former Traffic Court judge Thomasine Tynes, and state Reps. Ronald G. Waters and Vanessa Brown, all Democrats, with accepting illegal gifts from an undercover operative leading a corruption sting. None has denied the charges.
And also last year, former Democratic state Sen. LeAnna Washington resigned after pleading guilty to conflict of interest charges for making her taxpayer-paid staff plan her birthday party and her campaign fundraisers.
Unfortunately, Joe is pinning his hopes on four Republican candidates who are hardly household names. There’s Elmer Money, who works in healthcare and finance; attorney Rhashea Harmon; Sean Clark, vice-president of a non-profit; and Melissa Murray Bailey, a businesswoman.
A footnote: the last Republican mayor of Philadelphia, Bernard Samuel, was elected in 1944 and 1948.
Not even the optimistic Joe was willing to give us odds on that happening this year.