Daphne Goggins, a Republican ward leader from North Philadelphia who supports Donald Trump, was nominated earlier this month to be the Philly GOP’s candidate for mayor to run against Jim Kenney in his reelection campaign.
But her candidacy became considerably more controversial after some fellow Republicans learned Goggins receives federal disability benefits.
“Supplemental Security Income [SSI] is for a recipient someone who has never had to work a day in their life and must not be able to perform any job in the national economy,” said a letter from Philly GOP chair Michael Meehan sent to all local GOP ward leaders asking for a reconsideration of her nomination. “I think the Mayor’s job is one in the National economy and is a sticking point.” (In fact, many SSI recipients have worked or do work, but qualify for the benefits due to earning a low income).
But after a follow-up vote, Goggins, 56, emerged victorious aand will remain the nominee. Goggins did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in an interview with The Daily Caller, the right-wing news website, Goggins discussed her past and clarified that she gets Social Security Disability (SSD), not SSI, for mental health issues: “bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety,” she said.
“Why should I be ashamed of having mental illness? I think that the voters of Philadelphia should get to decide. And I think they just might choose me,” Goggins told the Daily Caller.
Goggins said in the interview she is also a breast cancer survivor and a diabetic. She added that if she is elected mayor, she will elect to stop receiving disability benefits.
“My disability will not preclude me from being a great mayor,” she told the Daily Caller. “I look at ability and not the disability. … I just believe that God chose me to run this campaign this year at this time in Philadelphia.”
After Goggins was first nominated on Feb. 13, the first black woman to get the Philly GOP’s mayoral nomination, some ward leaders questioned her eligibility for the role, including Billy Ciancaglini and party chair Michael Meehan. Daphne’s campaign blasted the move, writing on Daphne4Mayor on Facebook, ” To attempt at this late date to try to call for a second vote would be against the by-laws and invite a legal battle. This has not ever been done before in the modern era, and will not be done now.”
Ultimately, the Philly GOP agreed. At a meeting on Feb. 18, ward leaders voted 29-18 against reconsidering Goggins’ nomination.
On her social media accounts, Goggins has expressed support for Donald Trump, trashed Mayor Kenney’s signature soda tax, and criticized the DACA program for undocumented immigrant children as unconstitutional.
Philadelphia was in the early 20th century controlled by a political machine made up of Republicans (then the party of Lincoln), but since former Mayor Bernard Samuel left office in 1952, has been led and controlled almost exclusively by Democrats.
Voters registered as Democrats now outnumber Republicans seven-to-one in Philadelphia. But the party nonetheless exists in the city, with elected officials from the Philly area including three Republican City Council members (David Oh, Al Taubenberger, and Brian J. O’Neill), City Commissioner Al Schmidt, and state reps. Martina White and Thomas Murt.
Despite those numbers, Goggins said she is confident she can win.
“Chances of winning are just as good as chances of losing for me. So I’m going to say it’s 50-50,” she told the Daily Caller.
The Philadelphia primary will be held on May 21. Former City Controller Alan Butkovitz is running against Kenney for the Democratic nomination. State Sen. Anthoy Hardy Williams, who ran against Kenney for the Democratic nomination in 2015, is rumored to be considering a run as well.