Melissa Murray Bailey, a 35-year-old executive who serves as president of the Americas team of the Swedish-based employer-branding company Universum, says she is exploring the Republican nomination for mayor of Philadelphia because she believes she "can bring something new to the city that's going to allow people to flourish here for many years to come."
A South Jersey native who has been residing in Society Hill for the past three years, Bailey, who is married with one child, has been running businesses for the past 10 years across North America, Asia and Australia.
In an exclusive interview with U-Turn, Bailey cited her business experience as a primary asset should she toss her hat in the ring. (The interview can be viewed here.)
"Now here in Philly I've been focusing on building new businesses and turning around others, as I think some of that experience could be really relevant to what we need to do here in Philly," Bailey said. She later added, "I've had lots of experience having to manage revenues and budgets and make difficult decisions to keep a business running and profitable."
Bailey, who was introduced by Republican City Committee Chairman and State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th) at a holiday gathering at Downey's Restaurant in Society Hill, was making the rounds with Stewart J. Greenleaf Jr., an attorney who serves as the Montgomery County controller and is the son of longtime State Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf (R-12th).
Just one small issue currently stands in the way of Bailey moving forward.
Bailey is a registered Democrat.
Oops. If it sounds like déjà vu all over again, it really is.
No big deal, though. It's par for the course for Philly's Republican Party.
In 2011, Democrat Karen Brown didn't register as a Republican until halfway through the mayoral petitioning process.
In 2013, after I interviewed potential GOP mayoral candidate Dana Spain, Daily News reporter Chris Brennan revealed Spain was a registered Democrat. (Spain messaged me this past August that she will not be running for mayor next year, saying, "I have some other ideas where I will be able to affect positive change in our city without the run; at least for this mayoral cycle.")
And only last month, anticipated GOP mayoral hopeful Doug Oliver sent shockwaves through the GOP community when he announced that if he runs for mayor, it won't be as a Republican.
With Democrats holding a roughly 8-1 registration edge over the Republicans, qualified renegade Democrats are quickly becoming a hot commodity.
Although the live voter registration records I checked yesterday through the county Board of Elections didn't reflect any change of party, Bailey did assure me that she made the formal request. "I did that about two weeks ago," Bailey said.
In addition to Taylor's announcement, Bailey has also been welcomed among some of the Republican City Committee's inner circle.
Michael Cibik, who co-hosted last night's event along with 37th Ward leader David Lynn, was encouraged by Bailey's presence. "As the 5th Ward leader and Vice Chair of Republican City Committee, I am delighted to see such a high-energy and qualified business-oriented woman like Melissa Bailey, who also lives in the 5th Ward, as a potential candidate for mayor," said Cibik, a Center City bankruptcy attorney.
Philly GOP Executive Director Joseph DeFelice chimed in, as well, adding, "I met with Melissa and believe a candidate like her speaks to business-minded people and new Philadelphians such as millennials and empty nesters. Much of what I see in the Democrat primaries are 'has beens' and 'also rans.' Other candidates may still emerge on our side of the aisle, but I am encouraged that someone like Melissa, with her strong background in business development and charity, is giving this a serious look."
With the Pennsylvania Society's annual weekend gala taking place this weekend in New York City, it's expected that several Philadelphia mayoral candidates and explorers from both sides of the aisle will be making the rounds to gauge support for their campaigns. Petitioning begins Feb. 17, 2015.