Philly GOP chair takes HUD regional job

     Philadelphia GOP leader Joe DeFelice works the phones on Election Day, Nov. 8. (NewsWorks file photo)

    Philadelphia GOP leader Joe DeFelice works the phones on Election Day, Nov. 8. (NewsWorks file photo)

    After leading Philadelphia’s Republican Party for years, Joe DeFelice has taken a post in the Trump administration as a regional administrator in the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    An attorney, DeFelice became chairman of the Philadelphia GOP in 2014 after spending several years as executive director.He was an enthusiastic backer of Trump and other Republican candidates last year.

    Now, he’ll head HUD’s mid-Atlantic regional office, which manages policy in five states and the District of Columbia. DeFelice isn’t an expert on housing policy, but he doesn’t need to be.

    A HUD press release noted that he “will serve as HUD’s liaison to elected officials, congressional delegations, city managers, stakeholders and customers.”

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    The HUD regional administrator post has traditionally been a political appointment. Back in 1991, it went to now-talk show host Michael Smerconish, then active in Republican campaigns.

    The HUD release also noted DeFelice’s work on community development in the city’s Mayfair neighborhood.

    “My passion for community development started in my own neighborhood, working alongside developers, local leaders and nonprofits to bring about positive change,” DeFelice said in the release.

    Meet the new boss

    To replace DeFelice as city GOP chair, party ward leaders voted in April for attorney Michael Meehan, who represents a  Republican family dynasty.

    Meehan’s grandfather, Sheriff Austin Meehan, and his father, William “Billy” Meehan, ran the city Republican Party for decades.

    Meehan’s election is ironic, since DeFelice came to prominence as part of a group of Republicans dubbed “the loyal opposition,” who battled for years to replace the party’s traditional leaders.

    The upstarts argued that Meehan and his associates had too cozy a relationship with Democratic leaders in the city and were unwilling to compete with them in elections. (Meehan called that charge “bullshit.”)

    Meehan defeated a member of the insurgent group, ward leader Michael Cibik, in the April election; he’ll finish DeFelice’s term as chairman, which ends next summer.

    Meehan said in an interview there’s still some “sniping” in the party, but that he’ll “give the people 14 months and find out whether or not they want to re-elect me.”

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