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McCormick Campaigns in DelVal With GOP Judicial Candidates

Senate candidate Dave McCormick traveled to Montgomery, Bucks, and Lehigh counties Monday, campaigning statewide with the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s endorsed judicial candidates.

The most high-profile candidate is Montco Judge Maria Carluccio, who is running for state Supreme Court against Philadelphia Democrat Judge Dan McCaffrey. While a Carluccio win wouldn’t tip the balance of the current 4-2 Democratic high court, she could move the GOP closer to a majority.

Introducing the judicial candidates, McCormick said, “These elections are so important. There’s so much optimism across Pennsylvania among Republicans. You need two things to win. You need great candidates, and you need great execution. We have incredible candidates here who are absolutely overqualified for these incredibly important jobs. They’re deeply committed. They have incredible values. I’ve had a chance to get to know all four of them.”

“These are candidates that are going to be impartial,” he added. “They are going to be judges for all Pennsylvanians. They’re not going to be political judges.”

Asked why he was campaigning with the judicial candidates, McCormick said, “They are running great races, and these judicial races are so important. I said that if I were the nominee, I’d campaign with the judges, so this is an opportunity to do that. And I think they’re all great people, of great character, and I think they’re imminently qualified.”

State Democratic spokeswoman Maddy McDaniel slammed McCormick for backing “dangerous, anti-abortion” Republican judges.

While Democrat McCaffrey is struggling to answer ethical questions related to his hiring of his domestic partner to serve on his staff, Carluccio is being hammered with ads over abortion.

“My opponents have made abortion an issue in this race,” Carluccio told DVJournal. “In Pennsylvania, a woman has a right to choose up to 24 weeks, and that’s the law that we, as judges, apply. Anyone who says we’re going to change that is an activist and someone who doesn’t understand their role in government.”

Senate candidate Dave McCormick (left) introduces Republican judicial candidates (from left) Judge Harry Smail Jr., Judge Carolyn Carluccio, Megan Martin, and Maria Battista at Capone’s restaurant in Norristown.

Judge Harry Smail Jr. is running for Superior Court, which hears appeals of criminal and civil cases. Smail has served for eight and half years on the Court of Common Pleas for Westmoreland County, handling family court cases and then complex civil litigation on a variety of nuanced legal issues related to government and municipal issues, elections, energy and land use, and constitutional challenges.

A former parole officer, he was in private practice for 17 years.

“I’m running to serve the people of Pennsylvania but also because I think that I’ve achieved a level in the courtroom and that court’s the judge of judges…I think it’s critical that you have that kind of Common Pleas experience… I’ve had over 100 appeals, and I’ve never had one reversed.”

Maria Battista

Maria Battista, also running for Superior Court, is back on the campaign trail after being struck by a car while putting up campaign signs. She has experience as a former prosecutor and with family and civil law.

She holds a J.D. and a doctorate in education and has worked in state government for the Departments of Health and State. As an administrative hearing officer, Battista has presided over hundreds of hearings.

“What I want people to know is, it will truly be equal justice under the law,” said Battista. “Justice is to be blind.”

Lawyer Megan Martin, who grew up in Wallingford but now lives in Cumberland County, is running for Commonwealth Court.

“We will be judges for all the people of Pennsylvania,” said Martin. “We’re going to be fair and impartial. We’re going to keep politics out of our courtroom where it absolutely does not belong. We’re going to defend your constitutional rights and defend the rule of law. We’re not going to legislate from the bench. We’re going to hold our government accountable.”

Martin told DVJournal she “believes in public service, and I’ve been called to serve.” She has dedicated nearly 30 years as a lawyer to public service. She was a civilian lawyer for the Navy and, most recently, was the first woman parliamentarian for the state Senate, where she was elected unanimously five times, serving for more than 10 years.

“It was a testament to the fair way that I carried out my duties,” Martin said.   State Chairman Lawrence Tabas also reminded voters that Oct. 31 is not just Halloween but the last day to apply for a mail-in ballot. The election is Nov. 7.

“Of the new applications for mail-in ballots, 41 percent are Republican,” said Tabas. While the party did not embrace mail-in ballots in the past, “we have adopted it,” he said.

“I’m here to say bank the vote,” said Tabas. “That’s the key to our victory.”

National GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel Visits Bucks County

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is bullish on her party’s chances both this year and in 2022.

Bucks County Republicans and Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas welcomed McDaniel to a get out the vote event at Bucks County Republican headquarters in Doylestown last week.

The current election “is helping us prepare for next year with our ground game,” McDaniel said. “It’s a test run, so it’s going to be critical with our turnout this November to measure and see how we’ll do in the midterms.”

In addition to congressional races and the governorship, Pennsylvania voters will be choosing a replacement for Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, who is not seeking another term. The GOP hopes to retake both the House and the Senate which Democrats now hold by narrow margins.

“What I’m seeing across the state and across the country is a huge enthusiasm for Republicans. With special elections this year, Republicans are outperforming the ticket from 2020 and Democrats are underperforming their ticket from 2020. And we’re hoping that will continue into this election,” said McDaniel.

“The midterms are always a referendum on the party that has the power,” she added. “That’s historically the way it is and the Democrats have the House and the Senate and the White House. As we are watching unemployment rise especially here in Pennsylvania, we’re watching more people leave the workforce, we’re watching the labor shortages, we’re watching inflation, energy prices going up, what’s happening at the border, all of that is a referendum on the Biden administration. And right now based on the polling that we’re seeing, the American people are not pleased.”

A recent poll average finds President Joe Biden with a 42 percent approval rating. It has fallen faster during his first nine months in office than any president in the modern era. But that doesn’t mean Republican candidates can coast and expect to win.

“I think my message to every Republican candidate is to know your district, know your community, invest in retail politicking, and don’t take anything for granted. And run on the issues that the people in your constituency believe in. And if you run your race and you really do that work, we’ll win,” she said.

One reason that former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election was he lost the support of suburban women. But McDaniel believes women are coming back to the GOP in droves due to Democratic policies.

Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Lawrence Tabas introduces judicial candidates Judge Drew Crompton, candidate for Commonwealth Court; Judge Kevin Brobson, candidate for Pennsylvania Supreme Court; Megan Sullivan, candidate for Superior Court, and Stacy Wallace, candidate for Commonwealth Court.

“We’re seeing women come back for a variety of reasons,” she noted. “A lot of it is having to do with the failed leadership of the Biden administration. We’re seeing gas prices go up. As moms, we understand what that means. I get that as a mom. We’re seeing our groceries cost more. We’re seeing everything cost more. And we know that inflation is affecting our families, and the border, national security and I think what’s happening in the schools, when you see in Virginia, a Democrat candidate say that parents have no right to have a say in their children’s education, that’s really resonating with women and moms across the country, especially in the suburbs. I know I’m one of them.  And what we’re seeing is a huge influx of people running for school board and it’s bringing women back to the Republican Party.”

Republican judicial candidates also attended the Doylestown event and were introduced to the party faithful.

The state Supreme Court, which now has a 5-2 Democrat majority, made several rulings regarding mail-in ballots in 2020 that some Republicans believe helped swing the presidential election to Joe Biden.

“I think that’s why these court races are very important,” said McDaniel. “Court races are critical because you can have a legislative session, one bad court ruling can overturn what happened legislatively. And a lot of times court races and judicial races are not given the attention they deserve, especially compared to the impact they can have on a state and no state understands that better than Pennsylvania. So every race is important. Obviously, these are the focus right now and the RNC is building a ground game to help the whole ticket.”

Commonwealth Court President Judge Kevin Brobson (R) and Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin are vying for the seat now held by Thomas Saylor (R). Under state law, Saylor must retire because he turns 75 this year.

McDaniel, a Michigan resident, has two children, one a junior in high school and one who just left for college.

“They were both pandemic kids. She was a pandemic senior,” said McDaniel. “It’s so hard and she did not get a senior year like so many kids. We really watched our kids struggle. We’re all navigating it. But I certainly do not think I should not have a say in my kids’ education. And my voice matters, just like every other parent across this country.”

McDaniel, 48, has been the National Committee Chair since 2017 and enjoys the job.

“I love traveling the country and meeting people, being in Bucks County today and meeting your county Chair Pat Poprik, seeing her and how hard she works. Everywhere I go, I get to meet amazing people. I love that. It’s also the thing that’s the hardest, traveling and being away from my family. I love seeing the whole great nation that we live in and the variety and the difference in every single state,” McDaniel said.