City Republicans tussle over convention seats

For several months there’s been an uneasy truce between two factions in the city Republican Party ­–an   Old Guard led by general counsel Michael P. Meehan and an insurgent  group unhappy with Meehan’s leadership.  Since last November, when insurgent Al Schmidt beat Meehan ally Joe Duda in the city commissioner’s race, there’s been talk of finding someone to replace Vito F. Canuso Jr. as party chairman, and the two factions agreed on a mixed slate of delegates for the Republican National Convention in Tampa next August. 

But the two-year feud is simmering again because several members of the Old Guard decided to run for delegate without party endorsements, and some of the insurgents allege a double-cross. They’re particularly upset with Walt Vogler, the Republican leader in Roxborough’s 21st ward , a longtime Meehan ally who’s running for delegate and responsible for several challenges of other would-be conventioneers.   

“In the grand scheme of things, this is about a bunch of people wearing funny hats down in Tampa Bay,” says Kevin Kelly, a Meehan critic. “But this was the first test to see whether we could work together and they turn around and challenge our candidates.”

Vogler said he’d been away on vacation when the two GOP factions developed their slate for the convention, but he expected to be consulted about their picks.  “They don’t call me, but I’m the guy expected to get their signatures?... Michael [Meehan] wasn’t happy with me, because he agreed to the slate.…But this had nothing to do with anything other than me being pissed off.”

Observed Meehan: “This is a lot like herding cats.”