In a weekend post on the Philadelphia Republican City Committee’s temporary website, executive director Joe DeFelice claimed a recent Inquirer story about the “Summer Organizing Fellowship for Jim Kenney” amounted to free advertising.
Calling on the paper “to give the same free advertising to [Republican mayoral candidate] Melissa Murray Bailey and her internship program that they gave to Jim Kenney,” DeFelice wrote:
We are not asking the local media to do anything outside the norm, rather all we ask is that Melissa be given an equal opportunity to tell her story and share her vision for a better Philadelphia for all neighborhoods and communities.
Many in the media like to say that they want a more competitive Republican Party and yearn for a two-party system, however their actions and lack of coverage for our candidates coupled with fluff ad pieces for the opposition, help tilt the playing field even more.
In a Monday morning phone interview with NinetyNine, DeFelice said the story about the Kenney campaign’s community activism-training program was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“I’m not naive. I get it, the ‘presumptive mayor’ label. I get it,” he said of the fact that the city’s party registration disparities set Kenney up nicely for the general election.
“I’ve never been one to whine about the media, and I wasn’t whining about media [in the post], but c’mon man,” he continued. “I really believe Melissa has bold ideas, but will they even get coverage? I don’t know.”
DeFelice acknowledged that it’s long been difficult for Republican candidates to garner attention in the city, and conceded that Bailey has gotten some attention after attenting numerous forums during her uncontested party primary. That, along with attention paid to the recent Republican Council at-large primary, is part of a gradual effort to ingrain GOP candidates in the regular political-coverage fold.
He also said the 2013 district-attorney race between Seth Williams and Republican challenger Danny Alvarez marked a strategic turning point that could help Bailey get more attention in the coming months.
On the campaign trail, Alvarez continually chided the incumbent for the scarcity of public-corruption cases brought by the DA’s office.
“I’m not saying Danny Alvarez is responsible for the [cases brought against former state Reps.] J.P. Miranda, Vanessa Brown [and] the election board workers, but I do believe it played a part in it,” said DeFelice. “The candidates are in it to win, but if we’re not going to win a race, at least we can change the conversation. From a party perspective, that’s what we can get out of these races as well.”
For her part, Bailey didn’t comment on the post itself, but said, “whether I am the candidate or not, voters really do deserve to have the whole picture.”
Asked for comment on DeFelice’s post, Kenney communications director Lauren Hitt told NinetyNine, “If our plan to literally get voters to the polls isn’t relevant coverage of the mayoral race, I’m not sure what is. These petty, insider complaints do nothing to advance a serious dialogue about our city’s future.”