It's official: The city's Republican ward leaders have elected state Rep. John Taylor as chairman of Republican City Committee, signaling the end of an internal rift that has divided the party for more than three years.
Taylor, 58, the sole Republican in the city's legislative delegation, replaces attorney Vito Canuso, who had held the chairman's post since 1995. Canuso announced his intention to give up the job three weeks ago, and both factions of the party embraced Taylor as his successor.
The ward leaders met Tuesday night at the United Republican Club in Kensington – the same location where Canuso last stood for re-election in 2010, a vote disputed by elected ward leaders who were not permitted inside the building. Ultimately the election was ruled invalid by the state Republican organization.
Taylor announced that Joseph J. DeFelice, 35, a leader among the party dissidents, would become the party's executive director, in charge of day-to-day operations. His salary will continue to be paid by Republican State Committee, whose chairman, Rob Gleason, had been pushing for Canuso's resignation as far back as 2009.