DelVal businessman Dave White picked yet another regional straw poll win as candidates from southeast Pennsylvania continue to outperform in Republican Party committee events.
White, who’s running for governor, was joined in the winner’s circle by U.S. Senate primary candidate Jeff Bartos of Montgomery County in the Republican Southeast Region straw poll held Wednesday in King of Prussia. The next event will be the Republican Committee’s statewide winter meeting this weekend.
However, not all the political insiders at the Southeast straw poll decided to endorse someone. Only 37 people voted, while 42 sat it out. And, some sources believe, it’s unlikely that the statewide committee will make any endorsements.
White, a former Delaware County Councilman and pipefitter who now owns an HVAC company, won four of the five PAGOP regional caucus straw polls that released results. He aced the SE Caucus straw poll with 30 votes of the 37 votes.
“I am incredibly encouraged that our message of bringing less talk and more action to Harrisburg continues to resonate with voters across Pennsylvania,” White said. “For too long, Harrisburg has ignored reducing the tax burden on hard-working families, lessening the regulatory burden on Pennsylvania businesses, securing our elections for all voters, and putting parents back in charge of their children’s education. I can feel our campaign’s momentum growing by the day, and I know we are ready to take on and defeat career politician Josh Shapiro this November.”
Bartos, a Montgomery County businessman and real estate developer, won with 34 votes among the Senate primary candidates. Bartos, who previously ran a statewide campaign for lieutenant governor, also won five regional caucus straw polls.
“It has been a pleasure to hear from Republican activists in each of the six caucuses over the last few weeks, and I am thrilled to have received such tremendous support from the ground,” said Bartos. “Republicans in our great commonwealth recognize that I am the lone lifelong Pennsylvanian in this primary, and know that I am running to serve Pennsylvania while others are running to serve themselves. I look forward to continuing to earn support from Republicans throughout the commonwealth.”
Meanwhile, David McCormick, a hedge fund executive who hails from Bloomsburg, came in second with 27 votes, while TV celebrity Dr. Memhet Oz was third with 12 votes. Carla Sands, who served as ambassador to Denmark under President Trump received two votes, as did Fox News commentator and author Kathy Barnette and Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto.
Total votes from all the caucuses came to 122 for Bartos, 87 for McCormick, 41 for Barnette, 23 for Oz and 17 for Sands, according to the Bartos campaign.
“There is growing momentum behind Dave McCormick across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, most recently seen in his impressive performances in the state party caucuses, including his sweeping wins in the Southwest and Northwest,” said Jess Szymanski, a McCormick spokeswoman. “Dave’s been in the race less than a month, but his conservative principles, experience as a combat veteran, and track record as a tough trade negotiator and successful businessman resonate across Pennsylvania.”
And in a sign of how they view the race, McCormick’s team took a swipe at Dr. Oz — not Bartos.
“Republicans across the Commonwealth see right through Oz’s celebrity and are shifting support from candidates who have been harnessing party support for years to Dave because they know he is the candidate who can and will win this election.”
The straw polls have traditionally served a valuable function in Pennsylvania politics, a large state with significant regional differences.
“The straw polls are important for several reasons. First, it shows an organized campaign,” said Charlie O’Neill, a Republican campaign strategist. “Putting together an apparatus capable of reaching out to hundreds of State Committee members throughout the Commonwealth is no easy task. Earning the support of a State Committee member can pay huge dividends for a campaign in several areas: petitions are right around the corner, assistance with grassroots and fundraising, and most importantly, creating legitimacy for your campaign through their support. However, the prevailing sentiment at the caucus meetings is leaning toward a vote not to endorse, so a poor showing from straw poll votes means much less than in previous years.
“Having said that, the individual support of a county chairman or well-known and respected State Committee member can help your campaign cut through the clutter of 30 plus candidates on the ballot for the local electorate,” O’Neill added. “I strongly suspect State Committee members will be asked to work harder in this primary by their chosen candidates than they ever have been before.”
Meanwhile, in the governor’s contest, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain came in second with 20 votes; followed by Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman with 12; Republican strategist Charlie Gerow with seven; Chester Chamber of Commerce president Guy Ciarrocchi won five, and former Congressman Lou Barletta gained four. Cardiothoracic surgeon Ncche Zama had one vote.
“I am a limited government, free market, law and order, constitutional conservative,” McSwain told the Southeast Caucus. “As governor, I will restore freedom and the rule of law. I will ensure that every child has a quality education by implementing statewide school choice. I’ll revive our economy by cutting taxes, reducing regulations, and shrinking the size of government.”
David La Torre, a spokesman for Corman, said, “We’ve respectfully advocated for an open primary, and regional caucuses have all supported this. We believe primary election voters should elect our nominee. Some campaigns will likely be disappointed on Saturday after chasing headlines to tout straw polls. This is going to be a long process to November. Jake is well positioned to take on and defeat Josh Shapiro.”
Shapiro, the Democratic attorney general, is the only announced candidate in his party’s primary.