PHILADELPHIA — Voters in Philadelphia have elected a Whig to public office for what the victor believes may be the first time in nearly 160 years.
Robert "Heshy" Bucholz, a member of the Modern Whig party, campaigned door-to-door and won 36 votes to his Democratic opponent's 24 on Tuesday to become an election judge in the city's Rhawnhurst section.
Election judges, who serve four-year terms, receive about $100 annually and are responsible for overseeing equipment and procedures at the polls.
Now a heavily Democratic city, Philadelphia's last Whig mayor was elected in 1854. It's hard to verify whether Whigs won any lower offices after that, said Stephanie Singer, one of three commissioners overseeing local elections.
Previously an independent, Bucholz said he joined the Whigs three years ago because of their fiscally conservative but socially liberal views. They represent a sensible "middle path" between Democrats and Republicans, especially in light of the recent government shutdown, he said.
"That pretty much told us we can't trust either party and the system is broken," Bucholz said Thursday.
Four U.S. presidents were Whigs in the mid-1800s. The party largely disappeared in the 20th century, but was revived in 2007 by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who were upset at the lack of bipartisanship in Washington, according to the group's website.
The Modern Whigs have about 30,000 members nationwide, Chairman Andrew Evans said. Bucholz and J. Brendan Galligan, who serves on the school board in Westfield, N.J., are the only two currently holding elected positions, he said.
Bucholz, a 39-year-old engineer, admitted to being "a little bewildered" by the attention to his win, noting that his wife, Dinah, is usually the one getting publicity.
Dinah Bucholz is the author of "The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook." A registered Republican, she won a term on Tuesday as an election inspector.