The GOP Mayoral Nominee Didn’t Vote in Three of the Last Six Elections

Melissa Murray Bailey says she didn't think her vote mattered.

Republican mayoral candidate Melissa Murray Bailey speaks at a fundraiser luncheon at the Broad Street Ministry, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in Philadelphia. | Photo by Matt Slocum/AP

Republican mayoral candidate Melissa Murray Bailey speaks at a fundraiser luncheon at the Broad Street Ministry, Wed., May 20, 2015, in Philadelphia. | Photo by Matt Slocum/AP

Sometimes, we’re not sure whether to laugh or cry at the state of Philadelphia politics.

Only 29 percent of registered Democrats in Philly voted in the May primary, a record low. City Commissioners Chairman Anthony Clark, the man in charge of overseeing elections in this town, didn’t vote in five consecutive races.

And now, Citified has learned that GOP mayoral nominee Melissa Murray Bailey didn’t vote in three of the last six elections, according to records provided by the City Commissioners’ office.

Murray Bailey registered to vote in Philadelphia in August 2012, after moving to the city earlier that year. She cast a ballot in the presidential election that November, but then failed to vote in all of 2013, when the City Controller and District Attorney were up for election. Murray Bailey skipped the polls again during the 2014 primary race for governor. She then voted in both the 2014 general and 2015 primary elections (which is a good thing, because her name was on the ballot in the latter race).

Jim Kenney, the Democratic mayoral nominee, voted in every election since at least 2001, which is the last year that data is available.

Why didn’t Murray Bailey vote in half of the six most recent elections? She explained her reasoning in an email.

“Like a lot of people, I didn’t vote because I didn’t think my vote mattered,” she said. “The political machine that controls Philadelphia does what it wants regardless of what the people need. But I’ve reached a breaking point, and that’s why I’m running: to finally give a voice to real Philadelphians and end the days of the political special interests who rule our city without ever addressing schools, jobs, taxes or resident flight.”

Joe DeFelice, executive director of the city’s GOP, said the party was aware of Murray Bailey’s voting history when it recruited her to run for mayor earlier this year.

“We vet everybody,” he said.

DeFelice said Murray Bailey’s voting record is “not ideal,” but he nonetheless sought to cast it in a positive light. He said she could encourage millennials to vote by saying, “I’ve been there. You don’t think your vote matters. Well, I’ve made those mistakes myself, and we can really change things.”

This is a bad look not only for Murray Bailey, but also the city’s GOP. Insurgent Republicans recently waged a years-long battle against the party’s old guard because they believed it didn’t give a hoot about winning elections and was instead happy to live off patronage crumbs offered by the city’s Democratic machine. The shiny, new Republican Party in Philadelphia that was created in wake of this internal war promised to field better candidates.

And to be fair, there are signs that it is starting to do that. But Murray Bailey’s spotty voting history shows that the GOP is still unable (or unwilling) to find a qualified candidate to run for the No. 1 political job in Philly. In addition to not voting in three recent elections, Murray Bailey was also registered as a Democrat until this January.