As Philadelphia prepares to elect its next mayor on Tuesday, The Temple University College Republicans are mobilizing for the election, but understand the limitations of their efforts in a majority Democratic city.
The College Republicans have been active since the 1990s, said Travis Unger, a junior political science and criminal justice double major and chairman of the organization. The organization’s goal is to promote the Republican message in a mostly liberal campus and city.
Rachael Clark, a junior political science major and communications director of the College Republicans, said they were making phone calls to voters before their weekly meeting Thursday from 6-7 p.m.
The organization has also been doing social media outreach for the upcoming election, Unger said.
Clark added canvassing can be frustrating because the only Republican candidate, Melissa Murray Bailey, has a slim chance of winning the mayoral seat against the Democratic candidate, Jim Kenney. Clark added she appreciates Bailey’s campaign, which she believes is important for the city.
“Obviously it can be frustrating because Jim Kenney and the Democratic candidates have the upper hand, but I think Melissa Bailey has done awesome, especially in the debates,” Clark said. “Kenney didn’t even want to debate her. If you watched the debate with an open mind, she had good input.”
The College Republicans are active in the mayoral race, but this election isn’t a top priority for them, Clark said.
“For Republicans, the City Council seat matters more, because there’s two minority seats,” she said. “A lot of Republicans are more interested in the City Council race as opposed to the mayoral race.”
Gerald Murray, a sophomore history major and secretary of the College Republicans, added he’s interested in the election, but not optimistic about the outcome.
“It’s just two liberals running for the same office. There is no second party,” he said.
Members of the College Republicans believe it’s necessary to promote their views to show the people of Philadelphia an alternative exists.
Daniel McGovern, a sophomore finance major, said it’s important to ask people at polling places how they think the Democratic elected officials have benefited the city.
“How has your economic life changed, how has your block changed, how is the crime in your area?” McGovern said. “It’s not that much better.”
Clark agreed, citing a recent class he attended where Kenney spoke to students.
“Even today, I have class with John Street, and Jim Kenney came and spoke, and he spieled the exact same things and the exact same ideals and the exact same plans that John Street has been spieling since his time in office,” she said. “How have we done?”
Unger said despite difficulties, Republicans must remain persistent.
“We’re not going to win a citywide election right away,” he said. “We have to show up and keep showing up and keep changing hearts and minds until more people start to see it.”
The organization participated in the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans Convention Friday, Oct. 23, an event involving Republican student organizations and state politicians.
“I think it reminded us why we’re in this, and it was just eye-opening,” Unger said. “The candidates are working really hard, and we want to work harder for them.”
Iman Sultan and Evan Easterling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TheTempleNews.
*Editors note: Rachael Clark is a former freelance writer for The Temple News. She did not contribute in the editing process of this article.