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Philly GOP votes to let Daphne Goggins keep mayoral endorsement

Daphne Goggins, the candidate endorsed last week for mayor by the Republican City Committee in Philadelphia, is threatening to sue her party for scheduling a “do-over” meeting to reconsider that decision.

Daphne Goggins, who was endorsed by the Republican Party to run against Mayor Jim Kenney, outside her home in Philadelphia.
Daphne Goggins, who was endorsed by the Republican Party to run against Mayor Jim Kenney, outside her home in Philadelphia.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

They came. They clashed. They got over it.

Philadelphia’s Republican ward leaders, after days of strife over the endorsement last week of Daphne Goggins for mayor, met Monday night — and voted to change nothing.

Applause, raised voices, and shouts of “No!” could be heard during the hour-long, closed-door meeting in Kensington. And when it ended, Goggins was still the local party leaders’ pick for mayor.

“All families fight,” Goggins said after 29 ward leaders voted against reconsidering her nomination, 18 voted in favor of it, and four abstained. “We made up. It’s time for us to go out here and take it to these Democrats.”

First, Goggins will have to face Billy Ciancaglini, a Democrat-turned-Republican mayoral candidate who paced outside the meeting and left in disgust when he heard Goggins had retained the endorsement.

“I wish him well,” Goggins said of Ciancaglini, who still plans his own primary bid for the GOP nomination. “I just wish he would leave me alone, because I’m not his enemy.”

Ciancaglini last week questioned whether Goggins, a North Philadelphia ward leader who has been on federal disability payments since 2010, could handle the “rigors” of being mayor.

That prompted concerns in the party, and a call by Republican City Committee Chairman Michael Meehan on Friday for the meeting to reconsider the endorsement.

Meehan and Goggins said talk of her disability did not come up during Monday’s meeting. Meehan said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“Now the reality is, other people could file [to run for mayor], and they could run against the party,” he said. “I think people are looking for a good person who has some background. While Daphne is very enthusiastic, she’s never been in government.”

Goggins, a 56-year-old single mother of three and a longtime and vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, said last month that she has been on disability due to fibromyalgia, a chronic musculoskeletal disorder. Last week, Goggins said she would give up her disability payments if elected mayor, a defense that only seemed to inflame anxiety among some in her party about her candidacy.

On Monday, Goggins said she still has fibromyalgia but said it wasn’t the condition that qualifies her for disability benefits. She three times declined to identify what disability is the reason for those payments.

In an email to ward leaders over the weekend, Goggins had threatened to sue the Republican Party if her endorsement was rescinded and vowed legal action against “anyone in or outside of the party” if they “question her legal right to seek public office,” adding she is “physically, emotionally and mentally capable of handling the duties as mayor.”

She also accused Ciancaglini, a former Democratic candidate for judge, of causing “a ruckus” in the party because no ward leader nominated him for the endorsement.

“It would not be a stretch to say that he is a plant from the Democrats to attempt to destroy the party, and this will not be tolerated,” Goggins wrote, suggesting she might also sue Ciancaglini.

Ciancaglini took to Facebook Saturday to mock Goggins‘ accusation, noting that he has “effectively attacked” the Democratic incumbent, Mayor Jim Kenney, and claiming to have “converted” more than 200 Democrats to Republicans in the last 10 months.

“Daphne, you have derailed,” Ciancaglini wrote. “You are now saying that you can work as mayor, but continue to collect disability checks from the state by claiming you are too injured to work. That is a disgrace. Forget the lawsuits, forget the inane threats, and simply get a job … because it ain’t gonna be mayor!”