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Two Lt. Governor Candidates Complain About Mud-Slinging

“Politics ain’t beanbag,” the saying goes.

But two lieutenant governor candidates, Jeff Coleman and Chris Frye, are calling out Sen. Doug Mastriano, who is running for governor, and Teddy Daniels, another lieutenant governor candidate, for their harsh rhetoric.

In a press release and video the two complain about being called names.

Coleman, who has advocated civility in his campaign, says Mastriano and Daniels refer to him as “Mr. Rogers, patty cake man” and “swamp establishment hack.” While they allegedly call Frye a “sellout, career politician, and swamp creature.”

Frye, the mayor of New Castle, and Coleman, a former state representative and founder of Churchill Strategies, say using these types of slurs is playing into the Democrats’ hands and lessening the chances that Republicans will win in November.

“You’re both good men with good families and good reputations,” said Frye. “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Coleman said, “Instead of discussing issues, they’re using slogans and borderline slander.”

Daniels, a combat veteran who received the Purple Heart, retired police officer, and entrepreneur denied denigrating Coleman and Frye. He said the pair are just trying to make headlines and score points against the frontrunner.

“These two are so desperate to get attention in this race they’ll stoop to throwing baseless accusations of ‘borderline slander’ against the guy they admit is the leading candidate, when I’ve never even once uttered their names,” said Daniels, when asked to comment about the video and press release sent by Coleman and Frye.

Charlie O’Neill, a Republican consultant, said he was surprised frontrunners would be slinging mud.

“It didn’t take long for Reagan’s 11th Commandment, ‘Thou shall not talk ill of other Republicans,’ to be broken in this campaign cycle. What strikes me about Mastriano and Daniels attacking their opponents is that tactic is usually reserved for candidates who are behind in the polls, yet their camp touts high polling numbers.

“I wouldn’t expect the campaign to grow more civil moving forward as candidates vie for every crucial voter. Creating a contrast between you and your opponents is a key part of any campaign strategy. How you draw this contrast is up to each campaign. Some argue a tough primary serves to strengthen the winning candidate before a tough general election. There certainly is some truth to that, but it didn’t help in 2018, the last time there was a hotly contested Republican gubernatorial primary.”

Mastriano could not immediately be reached for comment.

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PA Sen. Toomey Endorses Lt. Gov. Candidate Jeff Coleman

Republican lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Coleman has received an endorsement from a Pennsylvania GOP heavy-hitter—U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

Coleman, then a state representative, was one of a handful of elected Republicans to back Toomey’s 2004 GOP primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter. Toomey lost in a close race with 49 percent of the vote.

“Jeff Coleman’s message is right for this moment,” Toomey said. “He’s arguing that civil debate rooted in conservative principles is the best way for Republicans to win elections and ultimately govern. He’s right. Jeff also knows that the lieutenant governor’s primary role is a limited one- maintaining decorum and delivering the policy agenda.

“On both fronts, Jeff has the experience and relationships to bring people together and make the next Republican governor successful. I’ve known Jeff for almost two decades. In a field of good people, he’s the best prepared for the challenges of this office,” Toomey said. “I enthusiastically endorse his candidacy for lieutenant governor.”

Coleman thanked the senator for his endorsement. “Eighteen primaries ago, I backed Sen. Pat Toomey over Arlen Specter. That initial loss built an infrastructure that still wins elections to this day. That model puts principles first, which is always the right choice,” Coleman said.

However, it’s an open question whether Toomey’s endorsement will sway Republican primary voters.

“Endorsements are really context-dependent,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. “An endorsement from, for example, President Donald Trump could have a strong effect in a Republican primary, while it could have negative consequences in a swing district. In that circumstance, it is unlikely Toomey’s endorsement will have much effect in the lieutenant governor’s race since it is such a low visibility content and since the senator is not wildly popular among Republican primary voters. On the other hand, if endorsements can help with fundraising or organizational matters, they can be of some consequence.”

And given Toomey’s lack of enthusiasm for Trump, who remains extremely popular with the Republican base, there is a real question about how much this endorsement will help in the hotly-contested GOP primary.

Coleman took part in a recent Delaware Valley Journal debate where he reiterated his view that politics needs a revival of civility, adding: “To be a Republican is to be for limited government, lower taxes, personal responsibility, dignity, freedom, and the value of human life.”

“Politics amplifies that entire series of questions that are irrelevant when it comes to actually deciding should we pave the road, should we build a store, should we legalize something, should we ban this?” Coleman told the Delaware Valley Journal in a recent interview. “I have been very careful not to single out any one political figure because when I do that, the conversation ends. There’s got to be amnesty for people who voted for Joe Biden. We need Joe Biden voters to come back to the Republican Party, or we don’t win the suburbs. That’s a fact.”

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Coleman Enters Lt. Gov Race With Political Experience, Positive Message

While keyboard warriors clash for online likes and America’s leaders bicker with each other in an “uncivil war,” driving up cable-news ratings while also driving away more moderate voters, Jeff Coleman still believes it’s a beautiful day in his neighborhood of Harrisburg.

The 46-year-old founder of Churchill Strategies and a former Republican member of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives is fashioning himself as a Mr. Rogers of Republicans in his bid for lieutenant governor, which he announced last month on Facebook.

In many ways, Coleman’s nice-neighbor persona is a throwback to the big-tent GOP that the late President Ronald Reagan embodied, with his 11th commandment “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

Coleman knows he needs voters of “every political persuasion” to win.

“Politics is so harsh today that we are closing all of the roads back and basically we’re saying, ‘Stay in your silo, your blue silo, I stay in my red silo. I’ll listen to our media sources, and you listen to yours,’ and we make daily judgment calls on people because of their bumper stickers and their preferences,” Coleman told Delaware Valley Journal. “We’re scanning people to find the point of disagreement. Whether they shop at Whole Foods or whether they shop at Walmart. Whether they’re Chick-fil-A people or whether they would dare to go to McDonald’s. Or whether they’re independent coffee owners or Starbucks owners.”

Coleman’s tempered beliefs can be traced to his early beginnings.

The son of parents who were missionaries, he spent his early years living outside Manilla, in the Philippines, where he recalled going to a wet market each morning to get vegetables and meats as he got in touch with his mother’s culture and learned a second language.

The family lived through the People Power Revolution, resulting in the forced exile of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was dogged by election-fraud allegations and for violently cracking down on protestors who opposed his regime.

Coleman credited that experience with awakening his appetite for politics.

“The events were amazing because two million Filipinos, in the course of several days, rallied to the side of the new Philippine president. And democracy won,” Coleman said. “The idea of politics was pretty hopeful to me. I thought you could really do anything.”

After returning to the U.S., Coleman settled down in Apollo Borough, an old coal-mining town about 35 miles from Pittsburgh, where his dad led a small Presbyterian church.

He volunteered for his first political campaign at 13, went on to graduate from Liberty University, a longstanding Mecca of conservative politics, and later became a member of his hometown council.

At 25, Coleman was elected to a seat in the Democratic stronghold of the 60th House District, relying on a door-to-door campaign to defeat longtime Democratic incumbent Tim Pesci, who was criticized for running a “condescending” race.

Pesci derisively referred to Coleman as “Jeffy” and called campaign volunteers “the Children from the Corn.”

Politics so consumed Coleman that they were intertwined in all facets of his life. He proposed to his wife the day he was sworn in. Their marriage suffered while he was in office, so he retired ahead of the 2004 election, looking to salvage their relationship.

He later founded the Harrisburg-based Churchill Strategies, a communications and political consulting firm that prides itself on “telling each story with grace and authenticity.”

With his marriage and family life stable, Coleman is dipping his toe back into politics, believing it’s still possible to win with old-fashioned, respectful debate.

“Rebuilding the public square is the only way that a conservative or a progressive is going to get long-term sustained changes on issues we care about,” Coleman said. “If you burn down the public square, and don’t have political opponents but political enemies, there is really no recourse but to take your politics into the streets. And that’s what you see in a banana republic.”

Coleman’s supporters believe he’s a refreshing reprieve from politicians besotted with winning Twitter wars.

“Jeff’s what the Commonwealth needs. He comes to the table with built-in credibility. He’s a guy who has a good heart and will be civil,” said Philly pastor Joe Watkins, one of Coleman’s friends who served as a White House aide to George H.W. Bush and previously ran for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor. “Nobody should mistake his kindness for weakness. It takes great strength to be kind and not be retaliatory.”

For his part, Coleman is focused on a narrow menu of issues that he says are important to Pennsylvanians of all stripes, including restorative criminal justice — naturally, Colemans says, since the lieutenant governor sits on the state’s pardon board — education that gives parents a voice in their children’s experiences, and perhaps above all, sober and competent leadership in times of crisis.

Pennsylvania has one of the nation’s highest rates of incarceration, at 659 per 100,000 people, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Local school board races have become battlegrounds for many national issues, as Democrats and Republicans slug it out on everything from the teaching of critical race theory to whether students should wear masks and be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Coleman may come across to some Republicans as too liberal for such beliefs as reforming the criminal justice system to rehabilitate ex-offenders and espousing a softer view on critical race theory as one explanation for “the horrors of racism and consequences of generational poverty.”

But he says civility and compromise are musts if Republicans want to remain relevant.

“Politics amplifies that entire series of questions that are irrelevant when it comes to actually deciding should we pave the road, should we build a store, should we legalize something, should we ban this?” Coleman said. “I have been very careful not to single out any one political figure because when I do that the conversation ends. There’s got to be amnesty for people who voted for Joe Biden. We need Joe Biden voters to come back to the Republican Party, or we don’t win the suburbs. That’s a fact.”

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