GOP primary battle in Phila. mayoral race

May 6, 2011 4:07:08 PM PDT
Karen Brown worked the lunchtime crowd Friday at the legendary Mayfair Diner. The city Republican Party's endorsed candidate for mayor just became a Republican a few months ago, after more than 30 years as a registered Democrat.

Brown dropped out of a nasty Democratic race for City Council to take advantage of the chance to be the GOP's hand-picked nominee.

"I switched because I didn't like the choices we had in the Democratic Party, and I didn't like what the Democratic Party was doing to our city," Brown told Action News.

John Featherman is the more conservative candidate who is trying to win the Republican nomination. He has been endorsed by the local Tea Party. He favors across-the-board tax cuts and givebacks by organized labor.

Featherman calls the GOP party bosses losers who live off the scraps from the Democrats' table. Brown, he says, is their latest tool.

For years, said Featherman, "the Republican City Committee has fielded paper and soft candidates for small jobs and little scraps."

Featherman has made something of a splash with a YouTube parody video, suggesting Philadelphia would be a great place for Moamar Gadhafi to resettle because of what he calls a one-party system under the iron-fisted control of dictators.

"We felt Libya was in some ways like Philadelphia. One-party rule here for 59 years for the Democrats," said Featherman.

Brown, the recent Republican convert, has plenty of criticism for incumbent Mayor Michael Nutter.

"Nutter's been asleep for 3 1/2 years," she said. "I really thought that Nutter was going to make a difference in the city, but he hasn't. He has been cutting the services that every Philadelphian wants: the police and the firemen."

Whoever wins the Republican nomination faces the mother of uphill struggles to win the mayor's race. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Philadelphia by a ratio to 6 to 1.