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GOP Lt. Gov Candidate Schillinger Meets Trump, Says He’s ‘Sharp As Ever’

Republican Lt. Gov. candidate Clarice Schillinger just got back from Mar-a-Lago where she met with former President Donald Trump.

“It was truly fantastic,” Schillinger, a Horsham resident, told Delaware Valley Journal. She was having dinner with a friend who belongs to the club, and Trump came over to her table to say hello.

“I spoke with the former president at length on the importance of Pennsylvania and the races here, how important it was to stop Josh Shapiro. How he will be a national problem at some point because this race is a stepping stone for him to becoming president.”

Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the only major Democratic candidate in the race.

Schillinger said Trump is following Pennsylvania politics closely. He told her he will be endorsing a candidate for governor, but he has not yet made up his mind.

“He’s obviously sharp as ever,” said Schillinger. “He’s saddened at the state of our country and I shared with him just how much a mess our commonwealth is in. But I’m so optimistic we’re going to win and take it back this year.”

Trump is “just a regular guy,” she added. “I’ve always thought maybe he’d be pompous or full of himself but he wasn’t. He really wasn’t. It was very refreshing.”

Trump sits with an iPad and “looks up everything,” said Schillinger. She talked to him about her background supporting school board candidates who promised to end pandemic lockdowns and helping them win, first with the Keeping Kids in School PAC and then the statewide Back to School PA PAC. Keeping Kids in School had a 98 percent success rate and the Back to School PA candidates had a 60 percent success rate.

“He said, ‘Don’t stop.’ And we talked about how the moms are upset and how we’re going to save America. And the grandmoms and the caregivers, all of us. When you touch our children, it’s about the future of democracy. This is what happens,” Schillnger said.

“Let me tell you, (Trump) is well-rested and sharp as a tack. He is ready to take it back.”

And Schillinger said the two made a connection over a classic movie.

“The former president even referred to a line from ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and told me that he would never forget my name.” The main character, played by Jodie Foster, is FBI agent Clarice Starling.

Referencing one of the movie’s most famous lines, the former president asked, “Would you like a glass of Chianti and fava beans?”

“I told him that Jodie Foster was extremely intelligent and beautiful,” Schillinger said. “It was truly fantastic.

Schillinger recently received the endorsement of the Montgomery County GOP,  along with the Bucks County Republican Committee and the Northumberland County Republicans. She recently came in first in the Pennsylvania Leadership straw poll and won the state’s overall straw poll.

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DelVal Candidates Dominate Straw Poll

Delaware Valley candidates swept first place in all three contests in the first GOP straw poll of 2022, held Saturday in Camp Hill by the Republican State Committee’s Central Caucus.

Delegates picked Montgomery County businessman Jeff Bartos as their first choice to replace U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who is not seeking reelection. Dave White, a self-declared “worker guy” business owner and former Delaware County councilman, came in first for governor.

Clarice Schillinger, an Ambler resident and leader in the push to re-open Pennsylvania classrooms, received the nod for lieutenant governor.

A straw poll is a gathering of regional party leaders and activists. Five more will be held around the state before the May 17 primary. Some 104 of 114 members voted at the Central Caucus.

Kathy Barnette, of Huntington Valley, author and Fox News commentator, came in second in the Senate race, well ahead of hedge-fund millionaire David McCormick and former ambassador Carla Sands.

In the governor’s race, Bill McSwain, a West Chester native and former U.S. Attorney for southeastern Pennsylvania, came in second. Interestingly, Lou Barletta, a former congressman who has led in statewide polls, placed third.

Dave White

“I’m deeply humbled by the support we have received from the activists that move our party forward. Our campaign is building a movement driven by everyday Pennsylvanians who want a brighter future for Main Streets in every corner of the commonwealth,” said Bartos. “I’m thrilled to receive such strong support from my fellow Pennsylvanians.”

“I am honored to win this afternoon’s PAGOP Central Caucus straw poll,” said White. “Since announcing our campaign just two months ago, we have crisscrossed our great commonwealth, bringing our positive message of fighting for hardworking families to communities large and small of every corner of Pennsylvania. My commitment to the voters of Pennsylvania is that we will bring less talk and more action to Harrisburg and turn around our commonwealth that Tom Wolf has decimated.”

Three state senators who are gubernatorial candidates–Sen. President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Centre), Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) came in at the middle of the pack. Political insiders note they all supported Act 77, an election law that expanded mail-in ballot and state influence in elections. It is an unpopular vote among the GOP base.

Clarice Schillinger

Schillinger, the lieutenant governor poll winner, said, “I am humbled to have earned the support of Central Caucus. I understand that nothing is given and I will continue to work hard to earn the support of every Pennsylvanian.

“Together, we will take back our commonwealth and make our state an attractive place to raise a family where children receive a world-class education, businesses want to move and stay in the commonwealth because we eliminate lockdowns and mandates, and communities are safe with men and woman in blue who are supported with the resources they need,” she added.

The candidates gave their pitches to the audience taking part in the straw poll and answered questions before the vote was taken.

Two political science professors told DVJournal they do not believe straw polls carry much weight.

“While the results give the winning candidates something to talk about and fundraise on, straw polls don’t tell us much of anything about how we should expect the primaries to turn out because we don’t know how well these views reflect the views of the entire state committee, for one, and, more importantly, the Republican primary electorate,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. Yost noted that “a straw poll of conservative leaders last year had Sean Parnell and Doug Mastriano as the preferred candidates for Senate and governor, so these results need to be considered in relation to the makeup of the group that is doing the voting.”

Parnell, an author and veteran who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, dropped out of the 2022 Senate race amidst allegations by his estranged wife in a messy divorce case. And Mastriano, who only recently began his official campaign for governor, finished SSaturday’sstraw poll.

“The straw poll results are of limited importance,” said Christopher P. Borick, Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. “Some candidates work hard to do well in these polls, while others ignore them completely. Thus, they often reflect the dynamics of a particular event and have very little predictive value.” And Borick also downplayed any significance of the caucus voting not to endorse any of the candidates.

“I’m not sure what percentage of the time they endorse, but it certainly isn’t a given,” said Borick. “sometimes they pass when there is not a clear favorite. With the very crowded fields, that may be the case.”


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Horsham’s Clarice Schillinger Launches Lt. Governor Bid

Fresh off her wins with the pro-parent Back to School PA PAC, Horsham resident Clarice Schillinger is launching a campaign to be Pennsylvania’s next lieutenant governor.

While serving as executive director of the PAC, which supported school board candidates statewide who promised to keep schools open, Republican Schillinger helped raise and distribute some $700,000 to school board candidates statewide for the November 2021 election. Some 60 percent of the candidates the PAC funded won their races.

Schillinger, 34, who also founded Keeping Kids in School PAC, which backed school board candidates in the spring 2021 primary, said she plans to take an education reform agenda to Harrisburg.

“I plan to advocate for a total revamp of our education system,” she told Delaware Valley Journal.

“Clarice has established a powerful track record of achieving real change through her work at Back to School PA this past year,” said Paul Martino, a Bucks County venture capitalist who co-founded Back to School PAC. “Electing her will ensure that education is the top priority in Harrisburg for these next four years. Pennsylvania needs a lieutenant governor that is ready to work and fight for business owners, taxpayers, parents, and students.

“Clarice is a political newcomer who has already demonstrated she will put these everyday people first,” he said.

She says she also hopes to reduce regulations on businesses and improve public safety by “supporting our men and women in blue.” A priority is “making sure our communities are safe and attractive for people to want to come to Pennsylvania and live, and not move out of.”  The U.S. Census estimated Pennsylvania lost 30,878 residents in 2021.

“I created this groundswell of parents and it just seems appropriate to run for statewide office and take their voice to Harrisburg,” Schillinger said, adding that she believes voters want “someone who is not a polished politician.” She’s the mother of two: Lexi, 15, and Mike Jr., her stepson.

“I’ve worked in politics but I’m a mom and I care about our government. We have to take it back from special interest groups and lobbyists,” she said. “Sometimes it takes a mom to clean up a mess like that and that’s what I plan to do,” said Schillinger.

Schillinger started her public advocacy fighting to clean up the now-shuttered Willow Grove Naval Air Station where various chemicals leaked into the groundwater leading to cancer clusters in Horsham, Warminster, and Warrington.

“It’s a real problem,” said Schillinger.  The 1,200-acre property is now a Super Fund site.

Schillinger later worked for state Rep. Todd Stephens, (R- North Wales) helping him pass legislation to remove contaminants from people’s wells. While she knows her way around politics, this is her first run for public office.

Schillinger’s husband, Mike, who owns a carpentry business, is supportive of her political career. “He says, ‘Go save the commonwealth and do what you have to do,’” she said.  Her kids are also behind her campaign.

But Schillinger has the same concerns as every working mom. For example, she makes a week’s worth of meals on Sundays and freezes them so she knows her family will have good meals while she’s out campaigning.

Schillinger believes the state can do better than it has lately under Democrats Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. (Fetterman is running for the U.S. Senate).

Schillinger fought to keep schools open for her children so they could get their education and “access to the American dream.”

“When the schools shut down it really lit a fire under me,” said Schillinger. “The government came to each of our kitchen tables during the pandemic and said, ‘Your life is going to stop and education is going to stop and jobs and paychecks…I could not ignore it.”

“It’s just doom and gloom,” she said about the Wolf administration. “Everything is falling apart. And all these negative responses: ‘No, don’t open schools. No, don’t open businesses. No, don’t leave your house.’…Instead of using the tools and resources and science and solutions.”

“We’re Pennsylvanian. We’re Americans. We find solutions. We persevere. That’s what our nation was founded on,” said Schillinger.

Schillinger has also faced adversity and persevered in her own life through grit and determination.  The Montgomery County Community College graduate found herself pregnant at 18, but kept and raised her daughter, and prospered.

“While leading Back to School PA, I connected with thousands of parents across the commonwealth with the same mission as me – to make a better life for their children. The current administration has abandoned all of us, siding with special interests and lobbyists over our families. It is time we have a voice at the decision-making table to advocate for real people with real problems,” Schillinger said in a statement. “That’s why I’m running. I will be your advocate, the advocate for students and parents, the advocate for business owners and taxpayers.”

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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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