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Philadelphia’s Republican Party is now in search of a new leader after chairman Mike Meehan resigned

Tuesday will mark the end of a quarter-century of Meehan family leadership in the city’s Republican Party.

Mike Meehan has announced his resignation as chairman of Philadelphia's GOP.
Mike Meehan has announced his resignation as chairman of Philadelphia's GOP.Read more

The Republican City Committee, Philadelphia’s perpetual political underdog for seven decades, is once again in search of a leader.

Mike Meehan, a third-generation leader of the party in the city, resigned Saturday after 2½ years as chairman.

Meehan had already called a special meeting Tuesday evening of the party’s ward leaders to elect a new treasurer and general counsel. Filling his post will now also be on the agenda.

”Please be advised that I have resigned today as chairman, effective Nov. 12,” Meehan wrote in an email to ward leaders Saturday afternoon. “Good luck going forward.”

In a statement later, Meehan said he decided “it is time for a fresh start for the Philly GOP.”

”It is my hope that new leadership will help our party present the bold ideas to the ever more radical direction of both the national Democratic party and the city’s new progressive movement,” it said. It also contained praise for him from State Rep. Martina White.

"Mike likely could have garnered enough support to remain chairman, but he had the strength to provide our party with an opportunity for new growth and a new direction,” White said. “That is a sign of true leadership.”

White, who first won her Northeast Philadelphia district seat in 2015, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for party leadership. She did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.

Joe McColgan, who briefly ran for the chairman’s post in April 2017 before dropping out and backing Meehan, said he has been approached by some ward leaders about running again.

”The next leader has much to do in rebuilding and we all need to be on the same page, chapter and verse” said McColgan, who is hoping to avoid the infighting that preceded Meehan’s election. “As I say often, there are 100,000 individuals in the city of Philadelphia who will register and vote Republican tomorrow, if we just give them a reason to.”

Democratic voters in Philadelphia outnumber Republicans by 7-1. The Republican Party has faced a decade of civil war, with one camp largely cooperating with Democratic Party efforts and another demanding to be more competitive.

Meehan’s resignation capped a week of missives from chairman to ward leaders, reflecting what he called on Monday a “preposterous” election cycle that culminated with a Working Families Party candidate, Kendra Brooks, unseating Republican City Councilman Al Taubenberger from one of two at-large seats held for decades by his party.

Billy Ciancaglini, the party’s mayoral nominee, took less than 20 percent of the vote, losing to an incumbent Democrat, Mayor Jim Kenney, who didn’t bother to campaign.

Meehan‘s email to ward leaders Monday said of Tuesday’s general election: “I know all of us cannot wait until Wednesday to have it in our rear-view mirror.”

”I certainly have explanations/reasons and may write a book or a screenplay for many of the recurrent, incessant problems from without and within the Republican Party,“ Meehan wrote in an email to ward leaders Thursday.

His frustration with the party and post were clear Thursday when Meehan told The Inquirer he would resign if the right people suggested it.

“It’s got to be the right people,” Meehan said Thursday. “There’s a whole lot of frauds in this whole thing.”

Tuesday will mark the end of three quarters of a century of Meehan family leadership in the city’s Republican Party. Mike Meehan previously served as the party’s general counsel, a post his father, William Austin Meehan, held for four decades before his death in 1994. Meehan’s grandfather Austin Meehan was once the city’s sheriff and the unofficial boss of the party.