In John Featherman’s mind, Karen Brown isn’t his only foe in the Republican mayoral campaign. He’s also challenging the structure of the party he seeks to represent against the Democratic nominee.
In his barely-decorated office, the 46-year-old Center City realtor said that Brown’s nomination proves there’s an inner-party struggle pitting those trying to protect the Meehan-family party stranglehold against reformers. Committeeman-election irregularities and using Parking Authority employees to circulate Brown’s petitions represent “apartheid.”
“They’re doing everything they can to preserve the little power they still have,” he said of Republican City Committee leader Michael Meehan and chairman Vito Canuso. “I don’t think Karen Brown knows she’s getting used.”
Worried that the party could get decertified should the Republican nominee get less than five percent of the vote, he’s realistic about his chances of potentially defeating Michael Nutter in November.
“There will be negative campaigning, but nothing personal. He’s not a bad guy, but he has a record now, a record of raising taxes and spending,” he said. “I want to defeat him, but if I don’t, I’ll make him more accountable. I’ll use a bully pulpit to make him answer for what he’s done.”
Featherman already scripted his primary acceptance speech: “‘This was a win for John Featherman and for the loyal opposition. Vito Canuso, Mike Meehan, I ask for your immediate resignations.’ They instantly become irrelevant, baby. They really do.”
Featherman knew it wouldn’t be easy for an unendorsed Republican mayoral candidate to get much attention from voters and the press. So, he sent Metro an online ad titled “Gaddafi-adelphia vs. Featherman” on April 17. From there, he got the attention he wanted.
“It’s sad that it’s come to that,” said Featherman, noting subsequent coverage was a coup compared to TV advertising rates. “We’re putting the finishing touches on a new one. It blows the first one away.”