A dissident Republican leader in Philadelphia has scrapped plans to hold a party meeting Tuesday evening with the intention of ousting the current GOP chairman, Vito Canuso.

Michael A. Cibik, the first vice chairman, said he had been urged by Al Schmidt, one of two GOP nominees for city commissioner, to back off from a fight with the party's old guard.

Schmidt "contacted me and other ward leaders and indicated that he felt that it was not in the best interests of the Republican Party and the Republican candidates on the November ballot to go forward with an election for chairman at this time," Cibik said Friday in an e-mail message to ward leaders.

"It was his desire that we focus on getting Republican candidates elected in November," Cibik said. "While some of the ward leaders would prefer to go forward and have these issues resolved, most felt that we should rely upon Al's judgment."

Philadelphians will elect three city commissioners in November to oversee the city election board. Democrats are likely to win two of the seats, with Schmidt going up against longtime establishment Republican Joseph J. Duda, an incumbent, for the third slot.

The city GOP has been at war with itself for months, with state Republican leaders backing insurgents such as Schmidt and Cibik. The state party has declared the chairmanship to be void.

The current leadership, headed by Canuso and party counsel Michael Meehan, has said the state party has no power to interfere in the local group's affairs.

Contact staff writer Tom Infield
at 610-313-8205 or tinfield@phillynews.com.