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Philadelphians Elect First Whig Since 19th Century

Robert "Heshy" Bucholz is seen in an undated photo provided by Bucholz. A member of the Modern Whig party, Bucholz campaigned door to door and beat his Democratic opponent 36-24 to earn a four-year term as an election judge in Philadelphia's Rhawnhurst section.

After winning an election on a platform of pragmatism and compromise, Robert "Heshy" Bucholz, 39, is set to become what many believe will be the first Whig to hold elected office in Philadelphia since before the Civil War. A member of the upstart Modern Whig Party, Bucholz won the post of judge of elections in one of the city's wards.

Bucholz is a 39-year-old software engineer who beat his Democratic opponent, 36 votes to 24, after launching a campaign that saw the father of four going door to door seeking voters' support, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The newspaper says Bucholz had been a registered independent until a few years ago — but the gridlock between America's two largest political parties led him to become a Whig. And now he's been elected as a member of a party that saw its last mayor of Philadelphia in the 1850s.

"One of the first tenets of the party is, it stands for pragmatism, working through the issues instead of staring each other down and refusing to deal with them," Bucholz tells The Inquirer.

As you might expect, the Modern Whig Party has a token animal as its symbol. It's not an elephant or a donkey; it's an owl perched on a branch. The centrist group was founded in 2007 as a response to the political stalemate that has existed in much of American politics in recent years.

"The Modern Whigs have about 30,000 members nationwide, Chairman Andrew Evans said," reports NBC 10 TV in Philadelphia. "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."

includes a quote from Abraham Lincoln, in which he states, "I have always been an old-line Henry Clay Whig."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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