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Philly GOP fights ballot question pushed by Council Republican

The Philadelphia Republican Party and one of its three members of City Council are clashing over a proposal that would soften the city's "resign to run" rule, which forces officials to step down before running for a new office.

Councilman David Oh, who is pushing a ballot question that would allow officials to run for some offices without resigning, duked it out with his party on Twitter earlier this week.

Questioning why Oh was focused on the rule when the city faces so many other issues, @PhillyGOP wrote: "corruption, cronyism, wage tax, storm water charge, BIRT hurt our City. Pretty sure resign to run doesn't crack top 50."

Oh responded: " 'Resign to run' lessens our voice in all matters where we need support and cooperation from Harrisburg including public education." He cited groups that have endorsed the measure, including the good-government nonprofit Committee of Seventy, which is led by former Daily News editor Zack Stalberg.

@PhillyGOP, however, had a different take: "so we are relying on zack Stalberg to dictate policy?" Oh called Stalberg and others "highly respected public interest experts."

Joe DeFelice, the party's executive director and the man behind that Twitter account, said the GOP ward leaders on Monday night voted overwhelmingly to oppose the ballot question.

He put out a press release today, saying "City Council wants to change [the rule] so they can campaign for a different office while the tax payers are paying them to do their job."

DeFelice added in an interview that it's "not an anti-David thing" and that he likes the councilman's recent proposals on other issues, like wage-tax reductions and pension reform.

None of Council's Republicans - Oh, Denny O'Brien and Brian O'Neill - attended the ward leaders meeting. All three voted to put Oh's question on the ballot in the May primary.

If approved, the measure will amend the Home Rule Charter to allow elected officials to run for other offices without resigning.

But there are limits: The policy won't change until 2016, so it won't impact the 2015 mayor 's race; and candidates will still be barred from running in two different races at the same time. The primary effect of the latter provision is that Council members won't be able to simultaneously run for reelection and for mayor.

Oh, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, has said he hopes the change will increase Philadelphia's clout in Harrisburg, because the city's top-tier politicians will be able to run for the state General Assembly and for governor without giving up their jobs.

Voters rejected a more expansive ballot question on the same issue in 2007.

Mayor Nutter, who resigned his Council seat to run for the top job, opposes it. Council approved the ballot question unanimously.