True Philadelphia Podcast: Matt O'Donnell interviews new head of Philadelphia's Republican Party

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Monday, December 9, 2019
True Philadelphia
True Philadelphia Podcast: Matt O'Donnell interviews new head of Philadelphia's Republican Party

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia's Republican City Committee is putting its hopes on Rep. Martina White (R-PA) to help it maintain relevance - and maybe even survive.

The party was embarrassed again in the 2019 mayoral race - Mayor Jim Kenney didn't even campaign against GOP opponent Billy Ciancaglini and ended up winning with 80 percent of the vote.

Plus, an independent candidate snatched a city council at-large seat from Republican Al Taubenberger, reducing the GOP's already slim role in city politics even more.

Enter White, who took over the party's chair after the November election, right after the sudden resignation of Mike Meehan. She is young (only 31 years old), a longtime Northeast Philadelphia resident, the first in her immediate family to go to college (Elizabethtown) and the first new Republican to be elected in Philadelphia in 25 years.

She has represented a 2-1 Democratic district for only four years and already promises to begin rebuilding the city's GOP from scratch. Political insiders from both sides of the aisle say they are already impressed. Listen to this episode to see if you are.

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Recorded at Rep. White's Northeast Philadelphia office on December 3, 2019.

In this episode:

  • Why Rep. White would want to lead the GOP in a city that is 7-1 Democrat (1:50)
  • How she plans to attract younger voters to the GOP (2:35)
  • Why she became a Republican (3:50)
  • How she feels about the politics of Republicans in Washington (4:25)
  • Why it took so long for a new Republican to be elected in Philadelphia (6:10)
  • How she plans to compete in a city that has more registered Independents than Republicans (7:28)
  • If it's a problem that voters have a love/hate relationship with President Trump (8:28)
  • If she has any dream candidates to run for mayor of Philadelphia in 2023 (9:57)
  • Her disagreements with City Hall (11:14)
  • The last five Republicans to run for mayor (12:00)
  • Why she opposes "sanctuary city" policy (13:20)
  • If she thinks Republicans are secretly culpable in keeping Democrats in power in Philadelphia (15:30)
  • Fixing the roads in her Northeast Philadelphia district and the difficulty of simply cutting the grass on the Roosevelt Boulevard (17:05)
  • Why some of the state's transportation funds don't actually go towards improving the roads, bridges and rails (19:00)
  • The feasibility of building a subway beneath the Boulevard (22:35)
  • What she thinks about the wishes of some Northeast Philadelphia residents to secede from the city and become their own, separate county (22:45)
  • What she thinks about the 2017 Philly Mag article titled "Martina White: The It Girl of Red Philadelphia" (27:04)
  • Why she won't tell anyone who she voted for in the 2016 presidential election (28:40)
  • Her background as a financial adviser (31:10)
  • On being the first member of her immediate family to go to college (32:47)
  • How to make college more affordable for everyone and how state grants may do the opposite of their intent (33:40)
  • How to reverse the climbing homicide rate in Philadelphia and reduce violence against children (35:11)
  • How she, as a teenager, was impacted by the September 11th attacks (38:40)
  • What she might be doing in 2, 4, 6 or 8 years (41:20)