Daphne Goggins thinks Philadelphia is ready for a mayor with mental illness. And she suggests that might be part of God’s plan for her and the city.
The controversial candidate, endorsed last week by the city’s Republican City Committee and then endorsed again in a second vote Monday, headed to the White House on Thursday to attend a Black History Month reception. But that’s not what her fellow Republicans were talking about back at home.
Instead, they were transfixed by an interview she gave to the conservative website the Daily Caller, saying she has received federal disability payments since 2010 because she was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder after she quit snorting cocaine and got sober in 2005.
”Why should I be ashamed of having mental illness?” Goggins asked, according to the article posted Wednesday evening. “I think that the voters of Philadelphia should get to decide. And I think they just might choose me.”
Goggins also told the Daily Caller she “truly believes that God disabled me” to allow her to focus on volunteering in her community, rather than working a job.
She declared herself on Saturday “physically, mentally and emotionally” able to serve as mayor, in an email to Republican ward leaders, threatening to sue anyone who challenged her candidacy or endorsement.
But Goggins told the Daily Caller she’s “not absolutely sure” she is ready to reenter the workforce if elected. She planned to rely on the cabinet she would appoint as mayor to get the work done.
”The mayor is the executive representative of the city of Philadelphia,” she told the Daily Caller. “The people that mostly do the work are his cabinet, and I have the ability to appoint a cabinet.”
Goggins, in a message Wednesday night to the Inquirer, confirmed the article was mostly accurate. But Goggins, a fan of yelling “fake news,“ complained it got a few things wrong. She seemed most concerned about the article quoting her as saying, “Everything that I’ve done in my life I’ve failed at.”
”I meant to say that I never failed at anything in my life,” Goggins’ message said. “Who would say they failed at everything in their life? LOL.”
Goggins conceded that the Daily Caller played her an audiotape of her interview and that it sounded as if the news site got it right.
”I will never do another phone interview, especially while driving in the car,” Goggins told the Inquirer. “I will run all of those things through my campaign manager. So please do not contact me anymore.”
The Republican primary is in three months; the general election, 8½ months.
It’s been a short but conflict-riddled campaign so far for Goggins, a North Philly ward leader known previously for appearing on CNN to voice full-throated support for President Donald Trump and to float conspiracy theories.
Michael Meehan, chairman of the Republican City Committee, called the meeting of ward leaders Monday to revoke or maintain their endorsement for Goggins after a “Clout” column noted she had been on disability since 2010. They voted 29-18 to continue endorsing Goggins, with four abstentions. Later, ward leaders said her disability was not discussed.
Goggins had previously said her disability was the chronic musculoskeletal disorder fibromyalgia. On Monday she said she still has that disease but insisted it was not the source of her disability. She declined to explain.
Goggins is likely to face a primary challenge from Billy Ciancaglini, a defense attorney and Democrat-turned-Republican who has become a needling rival. Ciancaglini has questioned how Goggins could handle the “rigors” of serving as mayor if she’s been on disability for years.
No matter whom Republican voters choose, that victor will face long odds in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 7-1. The last Republican mayor of Philadelphia left office in 1952.