Hundreds of people crowded into the Fort Washington American Legion Hall on Monday night to kickoff Clarice Schillinger’s campaign for lieutenant governor.
The Horsham mom has emerged as a political rock star on the right thanks to her efforts to help parents confront recalcitrant school boards trying to keep classrooms closed over COVID-19 concerns. Last year Schillinger, who is running in the Republican primary, was executive director of Back to School PA PAC and Keeping Kids in School PAC. The PACs were successful in electing 60 percent of the school board candidates they backed statewide in the general election and 98 percent in the primary.
“You’ve all heard about the PAC,” she told the crowd. “We brought together tens of thousands of people. And I did not care what party they were. It did not matter. It will never matter. What matters are the kids and what they needed. And 80 percent of children need in-person learning to succeed.
“The key out of poverty is education, The key to the American dream is education,” Schillinger said, bringing the crowd to its feet.
WPHT 1210 AM talk radio host Dom Giordano introduced Schillinger at the event.
“This is someone who looks good, sounds good, who is a mom but has long-term goals,” said Giordano. School boards have had the authority to close schools for years, but the legislators in Harrisburg are “too busy” to change that law, he added.
Overseeing the Board of Pardons is a “major part of this office,” said Giordano, who decried the soft on crime approach of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.
“Clarice will turn the office into something that will be a true asset to all of us,” Giordano said. “She has our undying support.”
In addition to fighting for education opportunities, Schillinger, a Republican, is running to improve Pennsylvania’s economy and public safety.
“Our economy will never, ever reopen if our parents don’t trust our education system,” she said. “Thirty-three percent of women in our commonwealth have left the workforce because either they feel their children are being indoctrinated or they can’t rely on the school to even stay open.”
Small businesses were hit hard by the pandemic-related lockdowns imposed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. “And many business owners can’t open their stores one more time after they’ve been smashed and grabbed and looted,” she said.
“I will back the blue every single time,” added Schillinger. “When I go to Harrisburg, overseeing the Board of Pardons, I’m not going to be like Oprah: ‘You get a pardon. You get a pardon. You get a pardon.’ It’s not going to work like that.”
Also, Pennsylvania needs to use its natural gas resources, she added. “We are like the Saudi Arabia of the United States,” she said. “These are good-paying jobs.”
But neither the economy nor education can work without safe communities, she added. “Unless you want Gov. Wolf 2.0, we’ve got to win this thing,” said Schillinger.
Several school board members and candidates who Schillinger helped also spoke, praising her guidance and political prowess.
Bucks County venture capitalist Paul Martino, who helped fund the Back to School PAC, said he had heard about what Schillinger was doing and wanted to meet her because he was also a parent upset over his kids’ schools being closed during the pandemic.
He joked that his “day job is being a right-wing boogeyman,” in reaction to the bad press he has received since getting involved in Back to School PAC.
After the 2021 elections were over, Martino said he brainstormed with others and they agreed that Schillinger, who had previously worked for state Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomeryville), should run for office. Schillinger had built a statewide organization and is “a really good CEO,” he said.
“Quite frankly, Pennsylvania needs Clarice in the executive branch,” Martino said. “We need a smart, young, motivated woman who puts our kids first.”
“We didn’t do it because of some plot…We did it because the kids were first. We did it because we were pissed off and mistreated. We did it to stand up for our kids. Your kids, my kids, and, in many ways, her kids.”