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FLOWERS: Charlie Gerow Brings Hope to GOP Governor’s Race

I just finished a consultation with a young woman from El Salvador who was fleeing the rampant violence in her country. Without revealing any confidential information, that young woman suffered more than anyone should be forced to undergo in 19 brief years on this earth. And yet, she had hope that we could offer her a better life.

“Hope” is a very special thing, and something in which this country specializes. “Hope,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, is the thing “with feathers” that keeps us soaring in the moments when our feet are filled with lead. Hope, as my mother used to say, is the last thing to die.

Charlie Gerow has made his gubernatorial campaign about hope. To the veterans of political campaigns, that might sound naïve. To angry voters divided by culture wars and suspicion, that might sound foolish. To me, it hits the perfect note. Charlie is one of many in a crowded primary, and he isn’t at the head of a fractious pack. But perhaps that’s a good thing because it’s given him an opportunity to cross this beautiful commonwealth and not worry about endorsements, angering famous politicians, triggering media pushback, or pushing the wrong buttons of Pennsylvanians who are tired of the mess created by Tom Wolf and his coterie of incompetent Democrats.

I sat down with Charlie the other day to talk about everything from unborn babies to marijuana as we enter this last, frenetic phase of the primary. I’d been at his campaign launch last year, followed his progress through the primary and the debates, and wanted to see what kind of a mark this crazy political season had made on a man who-in my opinion-is the only GOP candidate who can pull together a coalition to beat Josh Shapiro. It was a candid conversation, as any chat between two lifetime Pennsylvanians would be.

My first question was whether his months of campaigning had changed his mind about any issues that were central to his platform and policies, and he stated they hadn’t. It came with this caveat: “I haven’t changed any of my positions, but I’ve expanded some. For example, I’m developing a plan to put 1,000 more police officers on the streets of Philadelphia to protect people and public safety. I’ve also proposed that we require graduating high school students to pass a citizenship test, similar to the one that naturalized citizens take.”

Every Philadelphian reading this should support Charlie’s push for more police officers. The Democrats floated the ridiculous idea that we should defund the police, before realizing that was a dead-end message, and that not even their base could support this dereliction of duty and concern for the average, law-abiding citizen. As far as the citizenship test, that would go a long way to reminding American children that they are not racist, they are not sexist, they are not evil, and they belong to the greatest country on earth. Immigrants should not be the only ones obligated to fully understand the nature and grandeur of our history. As Charlie noted, “Teaching old-fashioned civics is a great way around the CRT and transgender sports nonsense our kids are being indoctrinated with.”

The first time I met Charlie was at a pro-life rally in Harrisburg. He spoke at the rally, and talked about his devotion to the pro-life movement. It’s personal for him, as he’s explained numerous times on the campaign trail. Charlie was born to a single mother in Brazil who couldn’t take care of him. She did the most honorable and painful thing a mother can do: Give her child up for adoption so that he could have a better life. As a result of that selfless generosity, he’s enjoyed a life that would have been unimaginable had he remained in the slums of Brazil.

When I asked him about the recently-leaked Dobbs decision, Charlie asked, “If we won’t fight to defend the most defenseless, our unborn children, for whom will we fight?” This candidate would provide a stark contrast to Democrat Shapiro who believes abortion should be legal up until the ninth month.

Almost as controversial as abortion is the issue of legalized marijuana. Pennsylvania has not gotten to the point where non-medicinal pot is legal in the commonwealth, but it appears there is some momentum for legalizing cannabis. I am strongly opposed to legalization, and asked Charlie why he mentioned at a recent debate that he’d sign a bill making it legal to smoke pot. He responded: “It was a debate, and I was given 30 seconds to answer. I’ve made it clear that I’m not pushing for decriminalization or legalization. The bill I referenced is being pushed by my state senator, a Republican with background in law enforcement. He sees it as both inevitable, and an issue of regulation and taxation.” An honest, pragmatic answer.

Of all the candidates out there on my side of the aisle, it’s clear that Charlie Gerow is the only one who can build a coalition of the willing, the unified, and the hopeful. Given his years of public service and dedication to the state, I hope he gets that opportunity.

 

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PA State GOP Fails to Endorse but DelVal Candidates Welcome Open Primary

The Pennsylvania Republican State Committee wrapped up its meeting in York last weekend without making any endorsements for governor or U.S. Senate. And the biggest loser from that decision may be the Delaware Valley.

Two local Republicans, Dave White in the governor’s race and Jeff Bartos for Senate, have dominated the regional straw polls thus far and were believed to be the most likely to get the state committee’s backing. Instead, with large fields in both primaries, the state party decided to sit out the primary.

Albert Eisenberg

Political consultant Albert Eisenberg with BlueStateRed, said, “The election is a long way away. In 2015 and 2016, everybody thought the Republican primary was a clown show that would kneecap the party and the Democratic coronation would mean a stronger general election showing. People who claim to know how a busy primary with no central endorsement will wind up could show a bit more humility and let the process play out.”

Does the lack of official endorsement from the state GOP present a stumbling block for a campaign’s momentum?

Bartos’ campaign manager Conor McGuiness brushed aside any concerns, citing Bartos’ wins in the regional GOP straw polls, where he secured 41 percent of the votes. He was followed by Dave McCormick at 30 percent, Kathy Barnette at 14 percent, and Dr. Mehmet Oz and Carla Sands, who each had less than 1 percent.

Jeff Bartos

“These straw polls have been the only votes cast in this election – and the results are clear: Republicans prefer an actual Pennsylvanian, an actual conservative to slick TV ads from out-of-state pretenders,” said McGuinness. “Jeff is proud to have the support of Republican state committee members by an overwhelming margin. While others try their best to campaign to D.C. insiders, we’re focused on our fellow Pennsylvanians – and we’re winning.”

Bob Salera, White’s campaign manager said, “Dave appreciates all the support he has received from members of [the] state committee, winning four out of five caucus straw polls, but from the beginning of the process he has called for an open primary as it’s his belief that voters should choose the Republican nominee. We look forward to continuing to speak to Republican primary voters about why Dave is the best candidate to take on far-left socialist Attorney General Josh Shapiro in the fall.”

And how about other Delaware Valley contenders, who also failed to get the nod that might give them a boost in the crowded May 17 primaries?

Philadelphia lawyer George Bochetto, who is running for the Senate said, “I was delighted by the vote at [the] state committee to keep the U.S. Senate race open, and not to endorse, even though many members assured me they would vote for my endorsement. That the voters will have a wide-open perspective on just who the best candidate is (and) what is most important. The backroom politics of yesteryear are no longer cutting it, and the voters today are way too smart to buy into that bygone process. I am happy for and support the decision by [the] state committee not to endorse.”

GOP consultant Charlie Gerow, who grew up in Warminster and is running for governor, said, “We were pleased that the state committee did not endorse. As an elected member of [the] state committee, I’ve always voted against endorsement because I believe the voters should decide.”

Similarly, Guy Ciarrocchi, who is on leave from his job as president of the Chester County Chamber of Business while he runs for governor said, “Reality told party officials what they had to do—support an open primary. In a field of a dozen candidates, any attempt to hand-select one candidate would’ve been misguided and harmful. Candidates should talk directly to voters; share their message and make their case to turn around Pennsylvania—and, beat (presumed Democratic nominee) Josh Shapiro. So, I happily return my focus to talking to real voters about ‘kitchen table’ issues—and, offering common-sense solutions.”

And Rachel Tripp, a spokeswoman for Bill McSwain, the former U.S. Attorney who is running for governor, said, “Bill looks forward to continuing to grow his momentum, impact, and support across all 67 counties and among state committee members, and respects the committee’s decision to leave the nominating process in the hands of primary voters.”

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UPDATE: Bartos Wins Two GOP Caucuses Saturday, Governor’s Vote Divided

Jeff Bartos won two straw polls in northeast Pennsylvania this weekend, giving the Montgomery County businessman a perfect record in these early bellwether contests. He won the Republican State Committee’s Central Caucus a week earlier.

On Saturday, Bartos won the Northeast Central Caucus Straw poll for the Senate nomination, as well as the Northeast Caucus which took place the same day.

In the 15-person governor’s race, former Congressman Lou Barletta won the NE Caucus straw poll outright. However, in the NE Central Caucus’ straw poll, Delaware Valley businessman Dave White won. But a second vote that group took, using rank voting muddied the waters. That vote placed Barletta at the top, GOP strategist Charlie Gerow in second and White in third.

Clarice Schillinger, who led a movement to keep kids in school, won the lieutenant governor straw poll for the NE Caucus but the NE Central Caucus did not vote on lieutenant governor, instead delaying its vote until next week.

The straw polls are a process where Republican Party leaders and activists vote on their preferred candidates, among those who have thrown their hat in the ring for the 2022 races. This year the ballot will be topped by contests for governor, U.S. Senator and lieutenant governor.

“I am blown away to have received such tremendous support in the Northeast and NECRA caucuses. GOP grassroots leaders know that no other candidate knows this state, loves this state, or is as prepared to serve this state as I am,” Bartos said in a statement.

Bartos was the favorite of the Northeast Central Caucus including Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, and Schuylkill counties, as well as the Northeast Caucus for Bradford, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne and Wyoming counties’ party leaders.

Bartos also won the Central Caucus straw poll on Jan. 15, part of a Delaware Valley candidate sweep, where White also won.

“We were very happy with the results,” said Gerow, about Saturday’s second-place outcome in the ranked vote. “And continue to press our campaign with the people.”

While the caucus results are encouraging, the primary will determine whose name is on the fall ballot, he said.

White, on Facebook, thanked members of the NECRC for their support, saying, “We have the momentum to win in May and November.”

“Winning the plurality vote for the Northeast Caucus is very humbling,” said Schillinger via a text message. “I will continue to travel the Commonwealth and promise to take the concerns we ALL share to the steps of the Capitol.”

Three more caucuses are scheduled, two for Jan. Jan and one for Feb. 2.

 

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PODCAST: PA GOP’s Charlie Gerow Says It’s Time for a ‘Happy Warrior’

In this episode of the Delaware ValleyJournal podcast, veteran political strategist turned GOP candidate for governor Charlie Gerow says it’s time for Republicans to abandon “doom and gloom” messaging and replace it with “the happy warrior.”

Gerow tells DVJournal News Editor Linda Stein he began his career as a campaign aide to Ronald Reagan, for whom he continued to work for more than 25 years. Gerow discusses Donald Trump’s place in the current Republican Party, the kitchen-table issues he believes will motivate voters, and why “the biggest lie about the 2020 election is that there were no problems, because there were.”

Hosted by Michael Graham.

 

To Resign or Not Resign While Running for Governor: That Is The Question

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has made it clear he will not resign his office during his quest to become Pennsylvania’s 48th governor. But a chorus of Republican voices says he should, calling the decision by Shapiro, a Democrat, to remain in office during his campaign a conflict of interest.

One voice in that chorus is Bill McSwain, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination and who served as the U.S. Attorney for Southeastern Pennsylvania during the Trump administration.

In a Tweet published Thursday, McSwain cited historical precedent and noted that in 2010 the Philadelphia Inquirer called for then-Attorney General Tom Corbett, a Republican, to give up his office while running for governor.

McSwain’s Tweet said, “I’m calling on @PhillyInquirer to immediately ask for the resignation of AG @JoshShapiroPA, just as they did for Corbett in 2010. What do you say, Editorial Board? Still concerned about an AG mixing politics and law enforcement?”

In an editorial published on July 21, 2010, the Inquirer opined, “It’s nearly impossible lately for the public to separate Corbett’s law-enforcement duties from his role as the GOP nominee for governor. Increasingly, his actions as attorney general are tinged with political ramifications for the November election.”

The editorial continued, “As the independent and elected attorney general, Corbett is under no obligation to seek the governor’s approval. But this constitutional arrangement raises a question of whether the state’s chief executive should be left out of the loop on such big issues. When the players belong to opposing parties and the case is a hot-button issue in the upcoming election, it’s impossible not to view Corbett’s decision as driven partly by politics. And that undermines public support for the attorney general’s role.”

Corbett went on to defeat Democrat Dan Onorato in the general election. Democratic incumbent Gov. Ed Rendell was barred from seeking a third term, as is Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf today.

The Corbett and Shapiro scenarios differ in that Shapiro and incumbent Wolf are both Democrats.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Gerow, a political consultant and business owner, has also called on Shapiro to resign as attorney general while campaigning for higher office.

“Josh Shapiro has never finished a job he asked the voters and taxpayers for and now he’s running for governor just months after being sworn in,” said Gerow. “Josh Shapiro must be honest with the taxpayers who pay his salary and admit that he has no interest in the job he asked for but wants to campaign for another office while staying on their payroll.  He should immediately resign as attorney general.”

However, under Pennsylvania law, elected officials need not give up one office to run for another, although former Republican state Sen. Scott Wagner did resign in 2018 prior to his unsuccessful effort to thwart Wolf’s reelection bid.

Shapiro was elected attorney general in 2016 and was re-elected last year when he garnered more votes from Pennsylvanians than President Joe Biden. Shapiro recently announced he has amassed a war chest of more than $10 million.