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Philly GOP’s ‘Rock Bottom’ 2023 Election Isn’t Party’s End, Supporters Say

Republican “vote whisperer” Scott Presler came to Philadelphia on Saturday to do training for Republicans and bring hope to a demoralized city party.

Philly Republicans are frustrated, and with good reason. The party was humiliated in last month’s municipal elections when it lost the two city council seats reserved for the minority party to the far-left Working Families Party. There are now just two Republicans left in the entire elected city government.

“I think it’s a broader trend that really needs to be addressed about how competitive the Republican Party can be in a city that is diverse and in urban environments,” Republican City Commissioner Seth Bluestein told NBC 10. Bluestein also noted GOP mayoral candidate David Oh outperformed every Republican since Sam Katz in 2003.

Oh got 24 percent of the vote in his loss to Democrat Cherelle Parker.

“We need to engage the grassroots,” Philadelphia 5th Ward (Center City) GOP Chairman Michael McLaughlin told DVJournal. “And the Republican Party needs to have better outreach given that 2024 is upon us.”

“We had a nuclear meltdown,” McLaughlin added. “When you’re at rock bottom, there is only one place to go: up.”

Sam Oropeza, who ran for city council and state Senate, hosted Saturday’s event at a new apartment building in Kensington.

“What really bothers me, being a Republican here in Philadelphia is we stopped conservatives from throughout the whole state of Pennsylvania from getting into Harrisburg, where they belong. We need your help, and we need to take action.”

“I’m proud to be a Republican,” Oropeza continued. “I’m proud of our values…And we are a wide, diverse group of people.”

Oropeza said one reason for the GOP’s collapse was the unwillingness to use mail-in ballots.

“We’re not going to change the laws before 2024, so early voting, we must build a presence here,” said Oropeza. “Get out. Share voter applications. Share vote-by-mail applications. Show people how to do this.”

Presler echoed that view, saying embracing mail-in ballots is critical for the GOP to win in 2024. For the Supreme Court race in November, Democrats had 450,000 mail-in ballots already locked in. The Republican judge, Carolyn Carluccio, lost by 200,000 votes.

“So, in part, the mail-in ballots secured the victory for the Dems,” said Presler. “Based on voter registration data that, the mail-in voter is 87 percent more likely to vote. An in-person voter is 53 percent likely to vote,” said Presler. “Every mail-in ballot that the Democrats get locked in, they’re likely to get their voters to the polls than we are.” Two people had told Presler they could not go to Saturday’s event. One because their child had an earache, and the other because they had an unexpected issue. The same thing happens on Election Day, he noted.

“To beat Joe Biden, we have to have a diverse approach to voting,” said Presler.

He showed the group of about 45 people how to use his app, Early Vote Action. It shows Republicans living nearby and offers scripts for knocking on doors, phone calls, scripts for texts, and thank you letters.

“I hear complaints from voters: ‘Scott, I’ve lived here in Philly for 60 years. No one’s ever knocked on my door.’ We’re the people who are going to introduce them, going to bring them to the Republican Party.”

And while David Oh’s 24 percent might sound depressing, Presler argued that it could be a game-changer on a statewide level. If the GOP can deploy at least 20 percent of the Philadelphia vote for whomever the 2024 presidential nominee is, “it’s game over,” and the Keystone State would go into the GOP’s column.

Albert Eisenberg, a political consultant with BlueStateRed, worked for Drew Murray and Jim Hasher, the two Republicans who lost the at-large council seats reserved for the minority party.

“They were organized and funded from out-of-state,” Eisenberg said about Working Families. “They’re operating as a branch of the Democratic Party. They’re not a minority party. They’re clearly collaborating with the local Democrats. They endorsed people in the mayoral and city council races.”

Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro endorsed Working Families Councilwoman Kendra Brooks.

Eisenberg also said the media, including The Inquirer, was “not curious about what it means to be supported by the democratic socialists.”

“They are the people that helped organize the Hamas rally on Walnut Street,” said Eisenberg. “And if it were a white supremacist rally, you’d better believe The Inquirer would have been all over it. I would say there was a lack of curiosity on the part of the left-leaning media people. Look how they cover (District Attorney Larry) Krasner.”

Until there is “more balance” in the media and in Philadelphia’s elected officials, “the city is going to just keep going backward,” he said.

Temple Political Science Professor Robin Kolodny said, “I do not think it is appropriate to say that the Republican Party in Philadelphia did anything ‘wrong’ in 2023. Political movements are only as robust as the number of your supporters, so this reflects that Philadelphia and its surrounding counties are trending more Democratic.

“In other parts of the state, the Republican Party is dominant, and the Democrats are less effective. The real question for Republicans everywhere is whether new voters are going to join their party or not. Every day, someone turns 18 years old, and someone else passes. If those people are of the same party, nothing changes. That is what a lot of organizers are paying careful attention to,” Kolodny said.

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GOP Voter Registration Guru Scott Presler Brings His Magic to Bucks County

Conservative activist Scott Presler is hoping to create an army of “professional voter registrars” in his likeness to bring thousands of new Republicans to the polls in the midterm elections in battleground states like Pennsylvania.

The son of a retired Navy captain said he has gotten so good at the gig that he has even done it from the comfort of a hot tub.

Presler was in Bucks County earlier this week hoping to help elect Republicans like Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful Doug Mastriano and U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Presler called Bucks County an “all-important bellwether” district that predicted presidential winners in past elections

“I’ve got the information, but I’m one human being,” Presler told the Delaware Valley Journal in an interview. “I want to create more Scott Preslers across the country. So my goal is, when I go out and knock with these members of the community, I want to teach them and train them for when I’m not here, so they can do the work without me.”

Presler’s first stop was the Doylestown Borough and Township Republican Club, followed by a speaking engagement before the Pennridge Area Republican Club in Perkasie.

Presler–dressed in a pink shirt, tight blue jeans, and cowboy boots–was quick to open up the voter-registration playbook with a few trade secrets for dozens of the area’s staunchest Republicans.

Part of his strategy centered on trolling prominent Democrats online.

Whenever President Joe Biden posts on his official White House Facebook page, Presler is quick to comment about how the Democrat’s failed “regressive policies” have hurt Americans.

“If you’re unhappy with Joe Biden, then please register to vote at your current address. I’m happy to assist any and all of you in registering to vote,” said Presler, showing volunteers an example of one of his boilerplate “anti-Biden” attacks that got him 480 “likes and hearts.”

It is a telltale sign to Presler that Americans are dissatisfied with Biden – and Democrats in general.

“That shouldn’t be happening. It should be angry faces,” he said. “I used Joe Biden’s White House Facebook page to register a new Republican voter. It’s so fun.”

Before deciding to enter into the realm of political activism, Presler was a dog walker. He remembers when, at age 24, he watched Barack Obama win re-election in 2012 and felt powerless. Then, in 2019, he was inspired to get involved by then-President Donald Trump’s criticism of Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat-and-rodent-infested mess” where no one wanted to live.

Those remarks propelled Presler to organize a cleanup of the city’s “most dangerous streets.” The event was a smashing success, with hundreds of volunteers helping pick up 12 tons of trash in a single day, Presler said.

He’s replicated the event in virtually every big city in America, from Atlanta to Philadelphia. And now he’s doing the same circuit again, this time focused on voter registration.

For his efforts, the Virginia-born political operative has been both praised and vilified as an “American Patriot” and a “nutty MAGA conspiracy theorist.”

He spoke at CPAC in 2021, and in the same stroke, found himself in the crosshairs of the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. Presler was slammed for serving as a top strategist for ACT for America, which the ADL and SPLC called one of the largest anti-Muslim hate groups in the U.S.

Presler’s speaking engagements in other cities have attracted counter-protestors and some have events been canceled. But not much of the criticism seems to phase Presler, who pushed back against the idea that he’s anti-Muslim by touting his support for Dr. Oz as he seeks to become the first Muslim to serve in the U.S. Senate.

And the political activist’s supporters don’t scare easily, either.

“We’re used to the name-calling, and we know it never amounts to anything,” said Kim Bedillion, president of the Pennridge Area Republican Club. “The Southern Poverty Law Center goes after many conservative, mainstream Republicans and Christian organizations and paints them as difficult. We’re used to that and we’re used to being called names like ‘deplorable’ and ‘Bible-thumper.’ We take that as a point of pride. If the Southern Poverty Law Center is going after Scott Presler, God bless him. We don’t get defensive; we just do the work.”

That work includes mounting voter-registration drives at gas stations, with “Pain at the Pump” signs in tow, ubiquitous Wawa convenience stores, Home Depots, and gun shops–all hubs for Republican voters, as Presler tells it.

He pointed to a “50-50 split” during a recent gas-station drive in a reliably blue part of New York as a potential harbinger for what’s to come.

He told volunteers to think as Democrats do in terms of their target audiences, noting they are likely to be at high schools, nursing homes, and “graveyards,” a riff on the old joke about dead people voting Democrat.

“You’re gonna have a lot of these angry mama bear events. Those people that show up are going to be the doers. Politics needs to be inescapable for the next five months,” he said.

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