State GOP Unseats Its City Chair

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Republican State and City bodies were handed a blockbuster yesterday afternoon as a committee handed down a crucial decision stripping Philadelphia Committee Chairman Vito Canuso of his post, after hearing challenges from both the Republican City Committee and the State-sponsored Regular Republican Committee.

The Credentials Committee included Richard Stewart, Mathew Brann and Carol Side, from different counties around the state. Testimony for the opposition was offered by Ward Leaders Matt Wolfe and Michael Cibik. For the City Committee, Canuso and others spoke. The hearing lasted four hours.

In a report sent to all the parties, the Credentials Committee of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania ruled, “It is the unanimous decision of the Credentials Committee that the seat of the Philadelphia Co. (City) Chairman that the Republican State Committee be declared vacant because numerous irregularities in the election process conducted by the Philadelphia Co. Republican Committee invalidated the election. The seat shall remain vacant until such time as an election free of substantial irregularities is conducted.” This was signed by Credentials Committee Chairman Richad W. Stewart.

A City GOP reorganization, which took place after the Primary, saw ward leaders representing the Loyal Opposition and State-sponsored ward leaders challenged and their credentials denied.

At the heart of that denial was whether a ward leader could be elected by committeepersons who had received fewer than 10 votes in their respective division. Are they qualified to vote for that ward’s leadership? Following City Committee’s refusal to seat several of those ward leaders, the opposition filed challenges against as many, if not more, of the recognized RCC ward leaders.

In contention as well is the fact the opposition challenged RCC’s “weighed rule”, which determines which ward leaders have a full vote, and which ward leaders do not, based on GOP registrations in their wards.

The Loyal Opposition believes it had successfully elected a majority of ward leaders in the primary. However, many of those are from wards where there are few Republicans registered, as against RCC-controlled wards where registrations number over 1,000. City Committee accords those ward leaders a full vote, and the others with decreasing percentages of a full vote, depending on the number of registrations a ward leader can show.

The City’s Republican Committee will either appeal the ruling, or accept it, welcome in the challenged ward leaders and hold an immediate county reorganization  meeting.

Today, Republican State Committee Chairman Rob Gleason softened the blow by reappointing Canuso as RCC Chairman until after the November election. Gleason took this action to preempt an appeal by either the current RCC leadership or the insurgents who are identified with the RSC in Philadelphia.

Neither side believes the intra-party battle will negatively impact their campaign to elect a Republican Governor. With several headquarters now in play, the City GOP will be fielding a stronger turnout at the polls this November.

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