Philly GOP taps first African-American woman as mayoral candidate

A Republican primary fight is shaping up with three candidates seeking the nomination to run for Philadelphia mayor in the May 21 primary.

Daphne Goggins sits on her front porch in North Philadelphia. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

Daphne Goggins sits on her front porch in North Philadelphia. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

For the first time, Philadelphia’s Republican Party has endorsed an African-American woman as its candidate for mayor.

In a vote Wednesday night, the party’s ward leaders voted to back North Philadelphia ward leader Daphne Goggins over two rivals for the party’s nomination.

“I just want to thank God, the Republican ward leaders for their support, my wonderful campaign team, and my beautiful family for helping to get me here,” Goggins said in a statement. “Philadelphia can do better!”

GOP chairman Michael Meehan said Goggins “basically took over” what was supposed to be a question-and-answer appearance in front of party leaders by Goggins and candidates Robert Hunter and South Philadelphia attorney William Ciancaglini.

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“It was supposed to be her presentation, plus question and answer,” Meehan said. “She basically overwhelmed people. She was very assertive.”

Goggins is a lifelong Republican, and outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, whom she’s met personally.

“I felt like he really wants to see my community do better,” Goggins said in an interview last month. “Unfortunately, the fake news basically does not tell us about what he’s doing to make things better.”

While Goggins prevailed among party leaders, it appears a primary fight is shaping up.

Ciancaglini said in a telephone interview he’s staying in the race.

“I’m anticipating a victory in the primary, and I have my fingers crossed for some undue success for the Republican Party even in the general election,” he said.

Ciancaglini ran briefly as a Democrat for state representative last year, but he said that’s a part of the past.

Registered Democrat voters outnumber Republicans in the city by a nearly 7-1 margin.

There are two announced Democratic candidates – Mayor Jim Kenney and former City Controller Alan Butkovitz.

The party primaries are May 21.

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