Clout: A ward war is on with the GOP

Posted: March 23, 2012

THE TEMPESTUOUS relationship between the Republican City Committee and a group that wants the party to be more competitive looked to be on the mend in recent months.

Forget about that for now.

Michael Meehan, who helps steer the old-guard GOP as general counsel, last week appointed former mayoral candidate Karen Brown, her husband and a former campaign worker to be ward leaders.

They all live in South Philly.

They take over wards in Logan, Nicetown and North Philly.

Brown, who was a Democratic committeewoman running for City Council until the old-guard GOP recruited her to run for mayor last year, said the campaign left her with friends across the city.

Brown now leads the 49th Ward in Logan, Fern Rock and parts of East Oak Lane and Olney. The former ward leader there died.

"There's a good chance to get people to register with the Republican Party," Brown said. "I like a challenge and this is a challenge."

Speaking of challenges, Vickie Freeman insists that she is the properly elected Republican leader of the 16th Ward in North Philly. She predicts Mike Powles, a Brown campaign aide picked by Meehan to be the new ward leader, will be rejected by her ward members.

"We've been out here working hard to try to build the party," Freeman said. "I don't see how in a predominantly black ward you're going to take somebody out of South Philly and call them ward leader."

Brown's husband, Lee Buchanan, now leads the 13th Ward, in Nicetown and parts of Tioga, Logan and Germantown. The former ward leader there changed political parties.

Matt Wolf, part of the GOP insurgency that now goes by the name of "the Republican Party of Philadelphia," said Meehan had no power to fill the ward leader posts. That job falls to the local party chairman, Wolf said.

The state party, which backs Wolf's group, stopped recognizing Republican City Committee Chairman Vito Canuso last year due to what it called "numerous irregularities" in his 2010 re-election to that post.

"We were hoping that we were going to work something out with them," Wolf said of the old guard. "We thought we were close to a compromise candidate for city chairman. Now Mike Meehan is playing games."

Canuso was not surprised to hear the insurgents are unhappy.

"They don't agree with anything we do," he said. "I don't know what the fight's about. There were all valid reasons for the [ward] vacancies existing."

Holly Kinser on her own

Longtime local lobbyist Holly Kinser on Thursday left the firm where she spent the last decade, S.R. Wojdak & Associates, to launch The Kinser Group, which opens its doors on April 2.

"I feel like, after 25 years, it's time for me to do my own thing," said Kinser, who started her career in the 1980s at the Republican National Committee.

Kinser already has two clients lined up .

The first is the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., where she did free lobbying work when the non-profit was founded in 1996 and brought them with her when she joined Greenlee Partners and later to Steve Wojdak's firm.

Kinser's second client is the city, which has been represented by Wojdak since John Street's first term as mayor. She said her new firm and Wojdak will split the city business, which is worth $120,000 per year. The contract to lobby for the city ends on June 30 and can either be re-bid or extended for another year.

Kinser and Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for Wojdak, declined to say how big her slice of the city contract will be.

"I think we all see value in continuing to work together on this," Feeley said. "And certainly the city does too."

Quotable:

"I'm just the anonymous actress. The spot is not about me. I don't want it to be about me. It's about the candidate."

- Ruth Weisberg, a local radio veteran, who appears naked in a YouTube commercial for Republican John Featherman, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Bob Brady in the November election.

- Staff writer Catherine Lucey

contributed to this report.


Have tips or suggestions? Call Chris Brennan at 215-854-5973 or e-mail brennac@phillynews.com.

Check out the Clout blog at:

www.phillyclout.com and follow on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN.

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