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GOP mayoral candidate out, but not down

Melissa Murray Bailey, the Republican Party's candidate for mayor, has shaken off her failed bid to run Philadelphia as the city's 99th mayor and is back to the corporate world.

Melissa Murray Bailey.
Melissa Murray Bailey.Read moreClaudia Vargas/Inquirer Staff

Melissa Murray Bailey, the Republican Party's candidate for mayor, has shaken off her failed bid to run Philadelphia as the city's 99th mayor and is back to the corporate world.

However, don't expect her to be totally out of sight. Bailey, 36, said she wants to remain involved in the city even if she is not in an elected position. She is encouraging fellow Republicans to do the same.

"We need to get more involved in the community. . . . Despite not holding office, we can still have an impact on the city. And I think that's what we need to do," Bailey said during a sit-down interview with The Inquirer last week.

Bailey, who drew a record low of 13.2 percent of the vote Nov. 2 against Mayor-elect Jim Kenney, is back to work at Universum, an international corporate branding consulting firm. She has not ruled out a political future.

Here is some of what Bailey said during her interview:

On her expectations when she decided to run:

"For me, it wasn't about Republican or Democrat. It was, you know, a new way of thinking vs. the status quo.

"I had talked to a lot of people before I decided to run and a lot of people seemed to be upset with what was going on the city and I thought there would be enough momentum to carry that through."

On setting a fund-raising goal of $3 million:

"I wouldn't have set it if I didn't think it was realistic."

On raising less than $30,000:

"It's hard to raise money when you don't have a primary.

"From the day after [the primary], every single media outlet broadcasted that the race was over. ... People with money got money because they're smart. They save money, they invest in things that make sense. When they hear over and over again that there is no election, to get them to invest is very difficult.

"I had many people tell me, 'I would love to support you but I can't show I'm supporting you because in case you don't win, my business, my job, my union would be impacted.' "

On the future of the GOP in Philadelphia:

"They are blinded by their own prejudice of what the Republican Party is, instead of looking at the reality of what the Republican Party is in Philadelphia.

"Everyone says, 'Oh, if the Republicans can't get a big-name candidate, then they've failed.' Sometimes because you are famous or infamous doesn't mean you are the best person to run the city.

"The political class is so far removed from regular people yet we still keep saying that's what we need to run our city.

"We need to do the things that need to be done even if we don't hold the positions."

On the media's coverage of her candidacy:

"You can say it's 7-to-1 [the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in the city], that's great. But people didn't even evaluate me. . . . Do you know how many calls I got after the election from people wanting to meet me who I had never met before in the media? So many.

"The media should do a service to other people and treat candidates fairly. Nobody ever wrote: 'She's a bad candidate because of these things.' They said, 'She's not going to win because she a Republican.' Anything that was written about me was superficial. 'She's a Republican. She's a mom. She was a Democrat.' "

Her favorite part of the campaign:

"Being able to help people. Going into neighborhoods that have never seen a politician and to do things that gave them hope. . . . Being able to put ideas forward that are going to make the city better. Seeing after the campaign, many of those actually starting to happen."

On her future in politics:

"I am not ruling it out.

"At least then people can't say, 'Oh, she's a political novice.' But the things that you all had as the biggest digs against me, most of them I'm not going to be able to change. I'm not going to be a political novice anymore. I'm not going to be a no-name. That's good. But I'll never have been born and raised here. And that seems to be the No. 1 important thing in your stump speech and to the media. And I'm going to be a Republican. So, those two things aren't going to change."

On staying with the GOP, which she joined last year:

"I've always had Republican values. The true epitome of what Republicanism is, not the morphed extremist we see now. My husband told me for many, many years that I was a Republican. But I didn't think you could be a Republican and help people. But that's really what Republicanism was founded on. Republicanism was founded on protecting the unalienable rights of people and to stick up for the little guy. Everyone forgets Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Women have the right to vote because of Republicans.

"As a Republican, I stand for job creation for people in the city. I still stand by that. I believe we are frivolously spending money . . . and I will never be a part of the old boys network that is the Democratic Party in Philadelphia."

On the effects of the campaign on her work:

"It was difficult on my professional life. It was a big step away from what I had been working toward my entire career. I'm now off the track from where I was in my career.

"My business suffered as a result. . . . When the leader is half-in, half-out, it's really hard for the people who are working there. ... Their lives were impacted very much the nine months that I was campaigning.

And on her husband, Sean Bailey, and 5-year-old daughter, Cricket:

"It was a really fun thing for our family, and it really got to teach her about all the different types of people in the city as well as the challenges that people face.

"I live in Society Hill, and yes, it's an insulated pocket of the city, and so to get Cricket out of that and to see people and how they are living in North Philly and South Philly. . . . She had lots of questions. But it taught her empathy."

On life after her loss at the polls:

"I had to get work back in order. I went to my office on Thursday. Started back at it. . . . I had to get the budget ready for 2016. I had to present to our board of directors. . . . Make our case for what we are trying to do in the next year. I had to book a ton of travel because I am responsible for 10 countries so I haven't been in any of those countries in the past year.

"There's nothing I couldn't accomplish before this. So, it wasn't something I was used to.

"I'm back at work, and that's great. You only have 24 hours to feel sorry for yourself. After that, you need to move forward."

On how Kenney has been shaping up his administration:

"I don't really have any comments."