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Montco GOP Candidates Seek to Prevail Over History, Voter Registration

Joe Biden carried Montgomery County by 25 points over Donald Trump in 2020.

Liz Ferry and Tom DiBello believe they can turn it from blue back to red. Their plan? Winning the support of its 64,423 unaffiliated voters.

“We are planning on retaking the county for Republicans and believe our commonsense positions will resonate with all voters,” said Ferry. She and DiBello are running as the Republican candidates for Montgomery County commissioner.

Their optimism may sound like a fantasy. Even running against relatively unknown Democrats Jamila Winder and Neil Makhija won’t be easy. The Republican Party’s reversal in the county in recent years has been dramatic.

In 1999, Montgomery County Republican voter registrations outnumbered Democrats 266,161 to 159,731. Just over a decade later, when Democrats took control of county government, Democratic registrations had surged past the GOP 245,562 to 209,519.

As of two weeks ago, there were now 301,523 registered Democrats and just 202,983 Republicans in the county, according to state records.

Republican Tom Ellis, a lawyer who was a county commissioner from 2004 to 2008, told DVJournal that Republicans are fighting an image problem because of former President Donald Trump and the abortion issue. Many Delaware Valley mainstream Republicans have rejected Trump after years of scandal and abrasiveness from the former president.

“Montgomery County was the first of the collar counties to go Democrat,” said Ellis. “Some of it was external pressures, but some was internal.”

“The suburban Republicans, the collar counties, were always fiscally conservative but socially moderate. And as long as you could deliver, keep the taxes down, that’s all people wanted,” said Ellis.

“The social stuff came in with Roe v. Wade, and that really hurt the party. And when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it in June, it hurt candidates in the November election, like Todd Stephens.”

Stephens, a long-serving state representative for the Horsham area, narrowly lost his seat. “There were a number of people, especially women, who said they were not voting for any Republican,” said Ellis.

“There were a lot of intra-party struggles, which caused our downfall,” he added. He cited fights between donors and incumbent candidates, as well as intra-party fighting between candidates and established politicians.

“It would have come eventually,” Ellis said, pointing to increased Democratic migration to the county.

The GOP’s nadir in Montgomery County may have been in 2011 when Robert Kerns was the local party chairman, and county commissioners’ seats flipped to Democrats. Kerns managed to face down a rebellion from GOP members but later resigned after he was charged with rape. He pled no contest to indecent assault in 2014, eventually losing his law license and registering as a sex offender.

Former Montgomery County GOP chair Liz Preate Havey, now state party secretary, agreed that Trump “lost the support of suburban voters, especially women.”

“If you talked to people who worked at the polls, the pushback on Trump was like we’ve never seen before,” she told DVJournal.

“And I saw pushback on Bush. The pushback on Trump in the suburbs is tremendous, in Montgomery County was tremendous, and it continues to be. And it’s not just Democrats.”

“I think a lot of it was his personality,” added Havey. “There were a lot of popular policies that he implemented.”

Young voters also had an outsized effect in 2022, Havey said. “Ninety percent of Bryn Mawr students voted Democrat, and they came out in droves in the last election,” she said. “That impacts the Republicans’ ability to win.”

Like Ellis, Havey thinks abortion hurt more than helped Republicans in recent politics. “[T]he Dobbs decision gave Democrats a rallying cry,” she said. “I think pro-life leaders need to rethink their strategies. That could bring back some of our Republican voters.”

Havey is more optimistic about the GOP’s future in the county today.

“We had two commissioners who didn’t get along,” Havey said. “And certainly Joe Gale attacking his fellow Republicans didn’t help. Eight years of (Gale) being the face of the party certainly hurt us.”

But now, “There are two strong candidates who are going to talk about the issues and who are going to debate the Democrats and not sound foolish.”

Montgomery County GOP Chair Christian Nascimento was also hopeful about the near-term future of the GOP in the area.

“The reason that Tom and Liz can win is that we have a unified ticket running for both seats for the first time in over a decade,” he said.

Democrats, meanwhile, “are fighting over a pay-to-play culture that is well documented and turning off registered Democrats and Independents. “

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GIORDANO: Why the GOP Should Embrace Mail-in Ballots

Republicans can and should beat Democrats at the mail-in ballot game.

Liz Preate Havey, chairperson of the Montgomery County Republicans, floated the idea last year that Republicans had to both elect a Republican governor who would lead the charge to get rid of Pennsylvania Act 77, which opened the door to Democrats instituting mail-in balloting in the state. Still, simultaneously, the GOP should have a better mail-in ballot game to elect more Republicans in the 2022 elections.

Liz made this point cautiously. I think it’s time to boldly embrace her idea. It’s time to compete and win in the mail-in ballot arena.

Last month, Democrats dominated Republicans in getting their vote out well before Election Day. Andy Reilly, a Republican National Committeeman in Pennsylvania, put it well when he told Politico, “When one party votes for 30 days and one-party votes for one, you’re going to lose.”

Republicans must persuade all voters, particularly those who vote somewhat irregularly but lean toward the GOP, to vote by mail. On his website, Conservative GOP State Rep. Russ Diamond said, “Our goal isn’t to convince regular voters to vote by mail, but to figure out how to cultivate mail-in votes from those registered Republicans who vote infrequently or don’t vote at all.”

Athan Koutsiouroumbas, a local Republican strategist has brilliantly, on my show, broken down how Democrats were relentlessly effective in their mail-in ballot campaign. In the local Statehouse races, they offered people mail-in ballot applications on their door-to-door visits, and they repeatedly followed up to see if people submitted their ballots. They effectively used local media to promote mail-in balloting.

They are a template to study how to do this. It mostly takes commitment to the details and a lot of elbow grease. Delaware County used to be Republican almost as much as Philadelphia is Democratic. I know more people who lean toward the Democrats have moved into the county, but they are also outworking Republicans.

Many listeners who call me or interact on social media accept that for the big 2024 election, Republicans must match the Democrats’ mail-ballot ground game. However, on my Twitter feed, I’ve started to see people who can’t accept this. They make the argument that many Americans have died to protect our right to vote and going along with mail-in balloting negates degrades that sacrifice.

I’d liken my approach to things that I don’t like in sports. I wouldn’t say I like the designated hitter rule. However, if I’m managing, I will have the best designated hitters and the biggest advantage possible. In sports, even if you use the rule to your advantage, it doesn’t mean you can eliminate it. In elections, if you win enough, you can get rid of things like mail-in ballots. In the meantime, you must play by the rules you’re given.

I put this new commitment to winning the mail-in ballot campaign in the same category of importance as Republicans preventing any candidate for statewide office from getting the nomination if they refuse allow exceptions for rape, incest or life of the mother regarding abortion restrictions. You can call it the “Mastriano Rule.” It’s proven you will not win statewide if you go down Mastriano’s path and you will hurt other Republican candidates.

Liz Preate Havey was ahead of her time when she proposed developing strategies that would commit Republicans to the mail-in balloting world that we live in. Apparently, Republicans used to do very well in the absentee ballot arena. This is just an extension of that field.

The time to start is now while the point is fresh.

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‘We Call Him ‘Shrek:’ Fetterman a Popular Target at Montco GOP Dinner

Enthusiasm ran high among the 250 committee people, elected officials, and candidates at the Montgomery County Republican Committee’s Fall Dinner last week at the Normandy Farm Hotel in Blue Bell. The event both honored outgoing state Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Bucks/Montgomery/Berks), who is retiring, and gave the GOP faithful a message for the upcoming midterm elections.

County Republican Chair Liz Preate Havey and state GOP Chair Lawrence Tabas rallied the Republican troops, with some help from special guests Matt and Mercedes Schlapp of CPAC fame.

“These two people are the hardest working people,” said public relations pro Alexandra Preate who moderated the event. “You can’t imagine phone calls at 2 o’clock in the morning or text messages. They never say no. They travel all around the country. They have a young family,” Preate said.

53rd District state Rep. candidate Jennifer Sodha with Nancy Becker, vice chair Montgomery County Republican Committee.

“Mercedes and I are 1,000 percent behind Doug Mastriano and 1,000 percent behind Dr. Oz,” Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, said. “Dr. Oz is a rare politician. He called us to say, ‘Can I take you to breakfast?’ He took us to the Royal Restaurant, which is kind of legendary in Alexandria (Virginia). He did something that Donald Trump did. He asked questions, and he didn’t talk. He listened.”

Usually, “politicians always talk the whole time until you think, ‘I’ve got to get out of here. My ears are going to bleed pretty soon.’ Not Dr. Oz.

“The other thing he did, he’s a famous guy and he was so nice to people. People were pouring out of the kitchen. Everybody wanted to meet Dr. Oz. He’s exactly what we need in our politics today.”

On current political conditions, Matt Schlapp said, “Our country has a virus, and it’s not COVID. We have a virus called self-loathing. We’re teaching our kids to hate our country. We’re teaching our kids to disrespect their parents. We’re teaching our kids that God is an old-fashioned value.”

“America is under attack by a virus that wants to undermine her. And I think we all get it. We’ve woken up from our slumber and our stupor. And I think Pennsylvania is going to lead the way,” he said.

Schlapp, a regular on Fox News and other conservative media outlets also turned his sights on the Democrats.

“I often think when I walk our city streets, especially Washington, D.C. with double-digit increases in murder, violent crime ever since they… started to say that cops were bad. I’ve often said, it doesn’t make much sense that the Democrats say, ‘I have a policy solution. Let’s legalize all drugs.’”

“Look at your lieutenant governor or whatever you refer to him as–”

Preate cut in, “We call him Shrek, sometimes.”

“The idea that just listening to him, the idea of legalizing all drugs seems insane,” he said. “I feel like we’re in an insane moment.”

Mercedes Schlapp said she believed GOP success in November centers around the Keystone State. “Pennsylvania is the epicenter of this red wave. We are going to make Pennsylvania red again. It will happen in our lifetime, I promise you. People are fed up.”

And, she argued, it is not just because of inflation.

“I know we talk about the economy that’s putting so much pressure on families, but it is these cultural issues,” she said. “It is the fact that you have these schools, these leftists pushing sex changes at the age of 5 or 6, that they are normalizing the use of puberty blockers for our children. This is disgusting, and this is what we have to stop. And I have seen parents, the ones that didn’t want to get involved in politics, have had to rise up. And I see that so much here in Pennsylvania where moms have said, ‘I’ve never done that before, but I’m going to get active, and I’m going to make sure we make a difference in our local school boards.’”

Liz Havey and members of the Lower Merion High School Conservative Club

There were also kind words from Havey for guest of honor state Sen. Bob Mensch.

Mensch brought performance-based budget to the state, transforming the budgeting process, so every line item and department is reviewed yearly “like a business,” Havey said.

“His second huge accomplishment, in my view, you know his wife passed after fighting a really long battle with cancer,” she said. “And Bob made sure in the legislature over the last many years that women with breast cancer have the testing and insurance coverage that they need,” she said. “He really impacted thousands of women across this commonwealth, twice receiving the prestigious Pink Ribbon Award, the only person in Pennsylvania to get the award twice from the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.”

She said Mensch has also been “a true friend” to many Republicans. He mentored her, helped her become the party chair, and helped many candidates.

Mensch, who served for 16 years in the legislature, thanked the audience for supporting him and supporting the Montgomery County Republicans.

“I truly appreciate the recognition,” he said. “We need candidates to run and run and run to get elected. We have some great candidates. We can’t just cede all of this to the Democrats.”

“There’s been a lot of talk about (Democratic Senate candidate John) Fetterman here,” said Mensch. “I worked with Fetterman for four years. As the lieutenant governor, your biggest responsibility is to run the Senate. You’re the president of the Senate. It’s scripted. Literally, and to his left is the parliamentarian. If there’s any question, she’s there for his help, and she’s dynamite. And he can’t read the script. He can’t do the job. So, what does that say? He says he transformed the job of lieutenant governor. If you can’t do the job, he’s transformed it.”

Havey, who joked about living in the very Democratic town of Lower Merion, welcomed a group of Lower Merion High School students who are members of a student Conservative Club.

Senior Andrew Coyne, 17, said he founded the club last year because “conservatives needed a space to talk about their opinions without being called racist. Lower Merion High School always talks about diversity and inclusion but not so much diversity of thought.”

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Montco GOP Chair Liz Havey is Bullish About the November Election

It’s a good thing Montgomery County Republican Chairwoman Liz Preate Havey is not holding her breath.

It’s been months now since she filed a report with Montgomery County officials who promised to ask District Attorney Kevin Steele to investigate a video of a Democratic committeewoman in Upper Dublin putting some 30 ballots into a drop box for the November 2021 election.

The Delaware Valley Journal also asked the DA’s spokeswoman about the investigation but received no reply.

In an interview for the Delaware Valley Journal podcast, Havey said it’s important for the public to have faith that their votes will be counted. But with the drop box system, “there are so few security measures in place right now, that getting rid of the one or two ones that we have makes the election less secure and makes people believe that there’s an opportunity for fraud and that fraud has occurred. And what we’re trying to do is not disenfranchise voters. We’re trying to get people to vote.”

Meanwhile in Delaware County,  District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer recently announced he closed an investigation into the November 2020 election after finding no fraud.

While Republicans have not embraced mail-in ballots in the recent past, Havey plans a big push for the fall election, and she said both GOP Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial nominee state Sen. Doug Mastriano are on board.

Havey comes from a political family. Her father, Ernie Preate was a Pennsylvania attorney general. In addition to being the Montco GOP chair and secretary for the state GOP, Havey also practices law and is the first woman to chair the august 122-year-old Pennsylvania Society. She is also on the board of the National Constitution Center.

As for the congressional race, she called Christian Nascimento “a wonderful candidate.” Nascimento is running against incumbent Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery).

Nascimento “is the first person in his family to go to college,” she said. His parents emigrated from Italy. He became an executive with Comcast and his wife is raising four children.

“He spent his whole life in Montgomery County,” said Havey. “So he’s very much committed to this district and knows this district really well.”

And Nascimento is talking about kitchen table issues like inflation while Dean is “hating Donald Trump and really not about fixing the problems that we see our voters are suffering from in this district.”

Havey is optimistic that the Republican candidates will win this fall because of President Joe Biden’s unpopularity, polling at 33 percent.

“I think people will vote their pocketbook,” said Havey. “There’s a lot of energy upset and anger against the Democrats in general and, according to polls, independents are dramatically breaking for Republicans two and three to one at this point.”



DelVal Republicans Hope to Catch the ‘Red Wave’ in 2022

Philadelphia GOP Chair Martina White’s party may be outnumbered seven to one in the City of Brotherly Love, but she says that won’t stop the red wave that’s coming in 2022.

“There will be a Red Wave in 2022 because people are so fed up with the lawless (DA Larry) Krasner Democrats and the incompetent Biden Administration,” White told Delaware Valley Journal. “All across the U.S in Democrat-run cities, crime of every type is surging. People can’t afford basic goods – if they can even find them – because of rampant inflation. Kids are facing mental health issues because of lockdowns unsupported by science, and being failed by schools that don’t work for them.

Tom McGarrigle

“The Democrats’ solutions are more lockdowns, more shutdowns, heroin injection sites in neighborhoods, defunding the police, letting more criminals free and doing what they’ve always done. People are fed up and it will be felt in November 2022 across the nation and here in Philadelphia.”

White, who also serves as a state rep, is one of the Delaware Valley Republican leaders recruiting candidates for what many election analysts on both sides of the aisle will be a good year for the GOP.

“We are looking for regular citizens from all walks of life — small business-people, tradesmen and women, former law enforcement officers, active and concerned parents — who are willing to step up, offer a different view, and make a change in this heavily Democratic city,” White said. “Every voter matters when you’re talking about statewide offices, and the GOP can gain many more votes in Philadelphia thanks to the work we’re doing at the Philly GOP. For local office, we have our eye on a number of flippable seats where discontent with the radical Krasner Democrats and their failure to protect our families is boiling over. ”

In Montgomery County, Republican Party Chairwoman Elizabeth Preate Havey is also seeking candidates, but delays with the new redistricting map, which happens every decade after the U.S. Census, have slowed this down.

Liz Preate Havey

“While we have already heard from a number of excellent potential candidates and have been recruiting aggressively, we remain very concerned about the State House map in Montco,” said Havey. “It divided some municipalities like Horsham breaking apart communities of interest for no discernible reason other than to make the seat more favorable to the Democrats.”

Delaware County GOP Chairman Tom McGarrigle agreed that the lack of firm boundaries for various districts is hampering candidates’ decisions but he also pointed to the ongoing pandemic as an issue.

“We will be meeting with potential candidates in the next week or two,” said McGarrigle. “COVID has slowed everyone down. It seems like every other day someone you know has this COVID, so we’re a little behind schedule. And also, because we’re waiting for the final district maps to be drawn, anyone who is thinking about it is waiting to see what the final map is looking like. We’re still gathering names.”

“There are a lot of potential candidates who have expressed interest to me verbally if the seat looks good but nobody really knows what the final (map) is going to look like,” he said. “Everybody’s just at a standstill.”

“We’ve always looked for candidates that were involved in the community,” said McGarrigle. “In years past when times were different for the Republicans, it was usually involved in the system, either a township commissioner or borough councilman who wants to move up. But right now everybody who has those elected positions seems to be happy where they’re at.”

Meanwhile, White noted that there are other ways to help other than running for office.

“There are many ways to participate, ensure fair elections and create change across Philadelphia,” she said. These include being a poll watcher, a committee person, a judge of elections or knocking on doors to hand out information. “People who are interested should go to and check us out on social media to get in touch. This will be a big year!”


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