I roll my eyes at Daphne Jenkins Goggins’ political views.
For starters, the Republican ward leader is a diehard fan of President Donald Trump. She supports his implausible border wall proposal; calls CNN “fake news”; and buys into far-fetched conspiracy theories about what took place in Charlottesville, Va., at that white supremacy rally.
Closer to home, the Nicetown-Tioga resident opposes the city’s “sanctuary city” status and the sugary beverage tax that funds much-needed pre-kindergarten programs, among other things. She’s a big supporter of school choice and lower taxes on businesses. She even owns a red Make America Great Again baseball cap.
Yes, Goggins is a character, all right. She’s not as polished or as outrageous as Diamond and Silk, but she’s not that far off, either.
To me, she’s like that relative at the Thanksgiving dinner table who spouts outrageous and contrary political views but nonetheless is tolerated because she’s family.
So, when the 56-year-old community activist reached out on Thursday to inform me that the Republican Party had officially named her as its candidate to challenge Mayor Jim Kenney this fall, I couldn’t help but cheer for her.
Getting the backing from a major political party for a mayoral race is a huge accomplishment for anyone, much less a poor single mother of three who gave birth to her first child at 19.
Goggins stands to join an august list of failed Republican challengers, including Sam Katz, Al Taubenberger, and Melissa Murray Bailey, among others.
Unfortunately, hours after this column was published online on Friday, we got word that Philly’s Republican leaders had decided to gather Monday to reconsider their vote to endorse her, citing a rival’s complaints about her being on disability and not holding a job.
I’ll be rooting for her. Goggins came up the hard way. She’s someone who hasn’t gotten many breaks in life.
She graduated in 1980 from Girls’ High, where she got great grades and played varsity sports, but skipped college to work and help support her family.
Goggins registered as a Republican when she was 18 and has stuck with the GOP ever since. A former social services worker, she’s been on disability since 2010.
Getting this backing from the Republicans may be her first big break ever. I can only hope that the party does right by her. She would benefit from some media coaching so she doesn’t embarrass herself on the campaign trail.
I first heard about Goggins while researching a column about African Americans who planned to vote for Trump in 2016.
During a Trump campaign stop that summer, she was among the select few African Americans invited to meet with him in a North Philly hall owned by Greater Exodus Baptist Church.
“When he came to shake my hand, I said, ‘Oh, no, baby, I do hugs.' I hugged him,” she recalled, smiling.
After we became Facebook friends, I was alarmed by some of her posts, but mostly ignored them. We occasionally exchange pleasantries. I reach out to her when she posts about traveling and feeling unusually anxious.
When she sent me a flier last month announcing her plan to run for mayor, I expressed concern about how rough it might get for her.
“I beat drug addiction. This is nothing,” said Goggins, who’s also a breast-cancer survivor.
Goggins already is getting a taste of how things are going to go.
“It’s sad to know that you are supporting that monster as he attempting to ruin this country," a former friend wrote of Trump. "I wouldn’t even waste my money if I were you. Your chances of winning are slim to none. Shaking my head. And to think I used to actually look up to you.”
I am able to separate Goggins’ views from the person, which is why I can appreciate an outlier like her.
The reality is that it has been decades since this city has elected a Republican mayor, and that’s not about to change any time soon — even if she does make good points about Democratic failings and how having one political party dominate local politics hasn’t always served the city well.
All the odds in the world are against Goggins. Yet she’s willing to put herself out there, even though it means allowing her personal life to come under scrutiny. She’s open about having been addicted to cocaine — not crack — in the past as well as about her other health struggles.
She poses no threat to Kenney.
But Goggins’ entry into the race certainly will make it more — ahem — interesting. Stay tuned.