GOP mayoral candidate six weeks ago was a Democrat

Melissa Murray Bailey will run unopposed in the Republican primary for mayor. ( STEPHANIE AARONSON / The Next Mayor )

Just one Republican filed a nomination petition by Tuesday's deadline to run for mayor this year. And she's been a Republican for only six weeks.

Melissa Murray Bailey, 36, filed more than 2,200 signatures from Republicans registered to vote in the city. Citywide candidates must file at least 1,000 signatures to be listed on the May 19 primary ballot.

"It was great to get to know the ward leaders, all the committee people and volunteers, and get them behind what we're doing," Bailey said, adding that good schools and job creation are her priorities for the city. "I'm tired of the same old thing."

A second Republican, lawyer Rhashea Harmon, said she gathered enough signatures to run for mayor but decided to run as an independent in the Nov. 3 general election because she is unhappy with the way the party treated her.

"All the Democrats and Republicans want to do is play with people's lives," said Harmon, 38, who ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 2010. "And I'm angry about that."

State Rep. John Taylor, chairman of the Republican City Committee, said the GOP had been talking with Bailey about running for mayor since last year.

Taylor said he did not know of Harmon's interest in the race until she showed up at a ward leaders' meeting last month.

The Republican ward leaders "rallied around" Bailey, Taylor said, describing her as a "brand-new face" for the party.

Bailey, speaking to those ward leaders last month, said she tried to change her voter registration from Democratic to Republican late last year. The City Commission lists Jan. 26 - six weeks ago - as the date of that change.

Bailey, of Society Hill, works for a firm that matches job recruits with employers.

A third Republican, Committeeman Elmer Money, said he collected 1,156 signatures on nominating petitions but determined only 788 were valid, so he decided not to file.

The city's Republican leadership tried to recruit a high-profile candidate for mayor this year but came up short.

The GOP approached former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, Philadelphia Housing Authority Executive Director Kelvin Jeremiah, and condo developer Allan Domb, who on Tuesday chose to file to run for a City Council at-large seat as a Democrat.

 


INSIDE

Just one Republican filed to run for mayor. B4

Two Democrats did not file for the mayoral race. B4.


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215-854-5973 @byChrisBrennan