Friday, February 3, 2023
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Campaign ’23 already underway

Drew Murray
Jim Hasher

The Republican City Committee recently held a ward leaders meeting at the United Republican Club, 3156 Frankford Ave., to make several early endorsements for the upcoming municipal elections.

The party is backing city elections commissioner Seth Bluestein, who has been in office since February. Prior to serving as commissioner, he was chief deputy for former Commissioner Al Schmidt.

For Council at large, Republicans are supporting Jim Hasher and Drew Murray, who both ran in the recent special elections. Hasher works in real estate and owns a bar. Murray has been a community volunteer on different levels and serves on multiple boards.

The GOP endorsed City Councilman Brian O’Neill in the 10th Councilmanic District. O’Neill is serving his 11th term.

Meanwhile, city committee voted, with one abstention, to ban Sam Oropeza from the party. Oropeza was the Republican candidate in the 5th Senatorial District special election in May.

However, party officials have had a falling out with Oropeza, in part due to his assertion that they did not help him enough in the campaign.

The city GOP said it printed election day flyers that included Oropeza’s name that were paid for by statewide primary candidates Dave McCormick, Bill McSwain and Clarice Schillinger.

Oropeza said he worked hard and ran a strong campaign. He’ll run for a City Council at-large seat next year.

The at-large primary promises to be interesting. Republicans plan to endorse three more people, as they can nominate no more than five.

In Philadelphia, the five at-large Democratic nominees are all but certain to win. Republicans have a realistic shot at the other two seats, though they must compete with the Working Families Party.

Republican candidates will be asked to sign an affidavit that they will drop out of the race if they don’t finish among the top two in the primary.

Oropeza, obviously, will not be agreeing to that. He plans to run a campaign on making Philadelphia safer and improving schools. He has the backing of three-term Councilman David Oh, a likely Republican mayoral candidate.

In 2019, Republicans endorsed five at-large candidates in an effort to oust Oh in the primary, but the incumbent finished fifth among seven candidates and went on to get re-elected.

Oropeza will need to get 1,000 nominating petitions to get on the ballot without the help of the party.

As for Hasher and Murray, each received more than 81,000 votes in their races and will partner with each other in the May primary.

Murray plans to raise money, knock on doors on weekends and attend night events. His Dec. 8 fundraiser at the Chickie’s & Pete’s on the Boulevard will help Toys for Tots.

The big issue to Murray is quality of life.

“That’s No. 1, 2 and 3 on people’s priorities. And that’s a big umbrella,” he said.

Murray lists retail theft, illegal ATVs and dirt bikes, crime, gun violence and murder under that umbrella. He believes the defund-the-police movement has led to retirements and hurt recruitment, arguing the police department is 1,300 short. Retail thefts are leading to store closings, he said.

While Murray does not expect state Senate Democrats to vote to remove District Attorney Larry Krasner from office, he hopes the DA changes his policies.

“He’s no longer a criminal defense attorney,” Murray said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic primary for mayor continues to grow. Announced candidates are Maria Quinones Sanchez, Derek Green, Rebecca Rhynhart, Cherelle Parker, Allan Domb, Jeff Brown, Helen Gym and James DeLeon. Other possible candidates include state Rep. Amen Brown.

Democrats will also have a primary for city commissioner and a large field for Council at-large. ••

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