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PA Voters Picking Candidates For U.S. Senate

Pennslyvania’s hotly-contested U.S. Senate race has gotten notice from pundits around the country, but the final decision will be up to voters in places like the Delaware Valley.

The Senate race in particular has gained national attention because the body is now divided 50/50 for each party, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie votes for Democrats.

In the Republican Senate race, which for months appeared to be a duel between Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick, a hedge fund CEO, a third candidate broke through into striking distance of winning: Kathy Barnette, an author and conservative commentator.

Dr. Mehmet Oz

The Emerson College poll released over the weekend, showed Oz at 28 percent support, followed by Barnette with 24 percent, and McCormick with 21 percent. However, 15 percent were undecided. Those voters were asked who they are leaning towards. With their support allocated, Oz jumped to 32 percent, followed by Barnette with 27 percent and McCormick with 26 percent. Since last month’s Pennsylvania GOP poll, Oz gained 10 points, Barnette has gained 12 points and McCormick has lost two points.

Jim Geraghty, senior political correspondent for the National Review told the Delaware Valley Journal podcast that it may have been Trump’s endorsement of Oz that opened the door for Barnette to surge.

“A lot of Trump fans are like ‘Er, no,’” said Geraghty. The “Mehmet Oz endorsement is a bridge too far for Trump’s base…The Trump endorsement clearly has a limit to it.”

However, now that Barnette is gaining traction, she’s also become a target. Oz and McCormick have been duking it out with attack ads on the airwaves for months.

“The knives are out,” she told Delaware Valley Journal in a recent interview. “They are scared and mad.” Oz and McCormick have spent many millions more on their campaigns than her paltry $1.7 million. Although she recently attracted a deep-pocketed PAC, the Club for Growth, that is also running ads on her behalf.

Meanwhile,  the other candidates are also campaigning nonstop across the state.

“Dr. Oz is in a position to win because he’s the only conservative outsider in this race,” said Casey Contres, campaign manager. “President Trump endorsed Dr. Oz because he knows that Pennsylvanians want someone that will fight back at the woke mob and put forth solutions that will get the government out of their way.”

Rep. Craig Williams and Dave McCormick, Republican Senate candidate.

McCormick said, “I’m a battle-tested conservative, Army veteran, successful businessman, and Pennsylvania job creator who knows what it takes to revive our economy, restore our conservative values, secure our border, and solve the problems facing Pennsylvanians.”

He called his opponents “unqualified and concerning.”

Others running on the Republican side include Montgomery County developer Jeff Bartos, former ambassador Carla Sands, and Sean Gale and George Bochetto, both lawyers—all poll at single digits.

The Democrat candidates have also seen some drama also in recent days, but for a different reason. Frontrunner Lt. Gov. John Fetterman suffered a stroke but he is expected to be recover. Also, running for Senate are Congressman Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.

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Races to Watch in the Delaware Valley as Primary Voters Go to the Polls

The primary is here, and that means that Pennsylvanians will soon know who’s squaring off in November’s contests for U.S. Senate, governor and lieutenant governor.

Josh Shapiro, unopposed on the Democrats’ side, is guaranteed a matchup against one of seven Republicans battling it out for the party’s nod.

The field slimmed down with the exits of state Senate leader Jake Corman and Melissa Hart. Doug Mastriano, a far-right senator from Franklin County, is the gubernatorial frontrunner. Republicans, concerned he will hurt the ticket in November, have been working behind the scenes to unite the party behind former Congressman Lou Barletta. Both Corman and Hart have endorsed Barletta, and the influential conservative group, Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, pulled its support from former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain to back Barletta as well.

Delco’s Dave White remains in the race as well.

Will the party’s efforts be enough to stop Mastriano, who hopes to have cemented a win by picking up the endorsement of former President Donald Trump?

The Senate races feature seven Republicans hoping to replace the retiring Sen. Pat Toomey. The GOP field includes celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and the surging conservative activist Kathy Barnette on the Republican side, along with hedge fund CEO David McCormick.

There’s a four-person race on the Democratic side that includes Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who recently suffered a stroke, along with U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta. Kenyatta has been a fierce critic of Fetterman, calling him “f—ing Batman,” over an incident in which Fetterman, while serving as mayor of Braddock, engaged in an armed confrontation with a Black man jogging in his community.

While most eyes are fixed on those races, here’s a look at some of the contested races in the Delaware Valley region:

In Chester County, four Republicans – Guy Ciarrocchi, Steve Fanelli, Regina Mauro, and Ron Vogel – are battling for the right to take on incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep Chrissy Houlahan, an Air Force veteran first elected to the Sixth Congressional District seat in 2018.

Cast by her opponents as “Pelosi Democrat” in the bag for Biden, Houlihan is still favored heading into the general election in a district tending to lean slightly blue.

In Bucks County, Alex Entin and Brian Fitzpatrick are squaring off on the GOP side for the 1st Congressional District seat. The winner faces off against Democrat Ashley Ehasz.

Entin of Northampton Township is a procurement specialist and first-generation immigrant from the Republic of Moldova while Fitzpatrick is a former FBI agent and has staked out a reputation as a moderate Republican since first entering office in 2017. Fitzpatrick raised more than $3 million, while his opponent had just under $15,000 in his campaign coffers through the final days of April.

Republican voters will also decide between small business owner Bernie Sauer of Newtown Borough and marketing professional Jennifer Spillane in the GOP race in the 31st House District.

Whoever wins faces incumbent Perry Warren in the general election.

In Montgomery County, the 4th Congressional District GOP primary is between executive Christian Nascimento and small business owner Daniel Burton Jr. They’re looking to unseat Democrat incumbent Rep. Madeleine Dean in the fall.

And in Delaware County David Galluch is running for Congress to challenge incumbent Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon. Galluch is a Navy veteran, where he was an ordinance specialist who is trained in economics.


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SAMMIN: Pennsylvania Needs Ranked-Choice Voting

In the polls for Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial race this year, no candidate has reached thirty percent. In the Senate contest, the same situation prevails. The candidates we say are “winning” based on poll results only claim the support of about a quarter of Pennsylvania Republicans, at best.

Depending on who earns the top spot in the actual vote next week, that might be just fine. Most of the candidates are normal enough Republicans, and in a perfect world, all GOP voters will rally around the chosen nominee. But that is not necessarily what will happen. If a candidate is far enough outside the mainstream, a party minority might hijack the ballot slot and lose a great many votes.

In other states, this would be impossible. States like Louisiana, California, and Washington use a two-round system of voting with all candidates competing in one primary. A general election follows between the top two vote-earners. Alaska will do something similar starting this year — the top four candidates will advance to the general election and voters will choose among them with ranked-choice voting.

That last scenario is more applicable to a state like Pennsylvania. Here, a California-style primary would retain all the problems of our current system, with the winners likely being one Democrat and one Republican, neither of whom is certain to command the support of his entire party. But if each party instead selected its nominees in a more consensus-based method, the following general election would be more like what we usually want to happen: each party puts forth a candidate that represents a majority of its party members.

One way to do this is to abolish primaries altogether and have party members select nominees at a convention. Virginia Republicans selected their gubernatorial candidate this way in 2021. Glenn Youngkin had the support of only 32.9 percent of convention delegates on the first ballot, but when the lowest vote–earners were eliminated from the ballot in each of five further rounds of voting, the delegates got to consider where to shift their support. In the sixth round, Youngkin claimed victory with a majority of delegates’ votes. He went on to defeat the Democratic candidate (chosen by primary ballot in the usual way), with his party — and many independents and even Democrats — rallying to his cause.

The convention system creates an opportunity for party members to discuss their choices and arrive at a consensus about who best represents the party — and who is likely to actually win the election. But conventions are somewhat limited, in that they are made up of the party members who are most active, and most willing to travel to a convention and spend days doing the party’s business.

If Pennsylvanians want to achieve that level of consensus while making it easier for the rank-and-file party members to participate, they could look to New York City’s recent shift to ranked-choice voting. New York City Democrats had to choose from among thirteen candidates for the Democratic nomination for mayor in 2021. They used a ranked choice system, where voters were able to rank which candidates they liked in order of preference, rather than just choosing one of the thirteen. Lower-ranking candidates were eliminated, and the voters’ next preferences followed.

The result was a nominee, Eric Adams, who claimed more of a consensus mandate after eight rounds of counting (50.4 percent) than he did after the first round (30.7 percent). This system works especially well in primary elections. In a general election, sides are chosen, and few voters would say, for example, “I’ll vote for Clinton, but if she can’t win, I’ll pick Trump.” By November, it’s either-or, us-versus-them.

But in a primary like the one next week, Pennsylvania Republicans might have one preferred candidate, but would probably support others, as well. It is not uncommon to say, “David McCormick is my first choice, but I also like Jeff Bartos and Carla Sands.” In our current system, only the first choice matters. But that is not typically how we think about primary candidates, and it does not capture the complete picture of each voter’s sentiments.

It is too late to fix things this year, and since the state party establishment refused to endorse anyone, it is almost guaranteed that we will have senatorial and gubernatorial nominees who are backed by only a minority of primary votes. In 2024, Pennsylvania Republicans should do better. Whether through a convention or a ranked-choice primary, anything is better than the virtual crapshoot we are about to embark upon.

This article first appeared in Broad and Liberty.

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Lou Barletta Picks Up Key Endorsements

Trailing in the polls with the primary just days away, gubernatorial candidate Lou Barletta picked up a handful of coveted endorsements Thursday from establishment Republicans. They include those of former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.

The former congressman touted the “major announcement” ahead of a news conference in Levittown at the American Legion Post 960, where he was joined by Schweiker and former Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, whom he called the “greatest leaders that I know.”

The news came after state Senate leader Jake Corman announced he was dropping out of the nine-candidate race to throw his support behind Barletta.

“I am proven, road-tested, and ready to serve as the 48th governor of Pennsylvania,” Barletta said.

There is concern inside the GOP that state Sen. Mastriano (R-Franklin) is too far right-leaning and would get clobbered by Attorney General Josh  Shapiro (D) in November’s general election. Republicans who share those concerns are rallying around Barletta, who they believe is the Republicans’ best chance at taking back the governor’s mansion.

Schweiker called Barletta the “most competitive candidate,” touting his experience as a mayor in Hazleton and a former lawmaker, equipped to run the Keystone State’s sprawling government.

“He’s got the right perspective,” Schweiker said. “He’s a fighter. He’s got big stones … For this candidate, this isn’t going to be just a once-in-a-while interest. This is going to be an everyday preoccupation. He’ll see to it as an everyday assignment, not an afterthought.”

As mayor of Hazleton, Barletta commanded the national spotlight for his restrictive immigration efforts, which he touched on again during the news conference, promising to eliminate sanctuary cities across Pennsylvania if he is elected governor.

In 2006, he backed an ordinance that would have prevented employers and landlords from hiring and renting to undocumented immigrants, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Litigation ensued and the ordinance took effect, but such stark immigration policies were later embraced during the presidency of Donald Trump, whom Barletta supported early on in 2016.

Saying he had a “history of beating Democrats,” Barletta pledged that if he was elected he would remove Pennsylvania from the multi-state consortium Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) on his first day in office. He also pledged to repeal Act 77 (the controversial no-excuse voting law), block biological males who identify as women from participating in women’s sports, push for parents to have more say in their children’s school curriculum, and do away with “toxic critical race theory,” which he believes stokes division between Americans.

“We’re going to teach our children to love each other, not hate each,” Barletta said.

That messaging resonated with other Republicans as Barletta also picked up key endorsements from Santorum and U.S. Rep. Fred Keller. They came not long after media reports that Pennsylvania Republicans had discussed coalescing around a single candidate.

Cawley suggested Barletta is the “only candidate” who can beat Shapiro. He referred to a TV attack ad from Shapiro many believe is actually designed to boost Mastriano among Trump supporters.

Democrats are “literally reaching in and trying to manipulate our votes,” Cawley said. “Well, folks, I have a message for Josh Shapiro. It’s this: Josh, you’re just not that clever, and your shenanigans are just not going to work. Pennsylvania Republican voters are pretty smart, and they are not going to allow you to pick their candidate for governor. … Josh is pretty sure he can beat Doug Mastriano, but he’s absolutely confident he will lose to Lou Barletta.”

Focused on his own campaign, Barletta refused to take shots at Mastriano. However, he stressed the importance of the GOP embodying a unified front heading into next week’s primary, adding the endorsements were another step toward achieving equanimity in the party.

“The best thing for Josh Shapiro is for us to come out fractured,” he said. “I have been a unifier. I haven’t run one negative ad against any of my opponents. This is not in any way a reflection on Doug Mastriano or any of the other candidates. What I’m doing is making my case in the final five days that I am not only the one who can unify our party but I am the only one who can beat Josh Shapiro because of my history.”

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Republicans Working to Get Out the Vote Prior to May 17 Primary

Today, May 2, is the last day register to vote or to change parties. And the Pennsylvania Republicans are gearing up for a Red Wave this fall.

Their Pennsylvania Victory Team has made more than 1 million voter contacts made this cycle, according to Rachel Lee, Republican National Committee northeast regional communications director.

Volunteers across the state gathered for Operation Red Wave on April 23rd to get out the vote ahead of the May 17 primary. Working with the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, the RNC has been on the ground since 2016 and never left, said Lee. This has paved the way for increases in voter registration and volunteers.

“Ahead of the Republican primary, the RNC’s permanent, data-driven ground game is mobilizing activists, registering voters, and multiplying our efforts in the commonwealth every day. Keystone State Republicans are fired up and will not be outworked to turn out in force at the polls in May and, ultimately, deliver victories up and down this ballot this November,” said Lee.

One of those volunteers is Liz Preate Havey, who chairs the Montgomery County Republican Committee and the secretary for the Republican State Party.

I grew up with a father (former Attorney General Earnest Preate Jr.) who was involved in Republican politics,” said Havey. “Conservative values, I just grew up in. I’m pro-life, and I believe in limited government. I’ve never wavered for that, even though I went to University of Pennsylvania Law School, which is extremely liberal.”

“One of the reasons I decided to take a step up and lead in Montgomery County has to do with my children,” said Havey. “It’s so one-sided where I live in Lower Merion. It’s so progressive and woke. And they’re in the public schools, and they only get one side. I thought they needed to see that it was important to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means they get negative pushback. I get it from people that live in Lower Merion. They’re nasty to me. I wanted them to know if you believe in something important, you’ve got to stand up and fight for it.”

Her kids are 19, 17 and 13.

“I’ve been volunteering as a committee person since before they were born,” she said. “I took on leadership roles in the last eight years. And this one was a bigger step up.”

“It is fulfilling. I’ve met so many incredible people and had interesting experiences that I would have never had if I didn’t volunteer,” said Havey. “I’ve learned a lot about the region, driven to all parts of the county. I’ve had an awful lot of fun with some nice people who share my values.”

Robin Medeiros also volunteers for the Republican Party, and she’s passionate about it.

Robin Medeiros

While she’s been volunteering for years, “it’s taken off in the last two years,” she said. “I dedicate quite a lot of time to the Republican Party at this point.”

A real estate agent who lives near Scranton, she is president of the Margery Scranton Council of Republican Women and the Pennsylvania Federation of Republican Women. We rally for all of the candidates. Any free time I have is now dedicated to that.”

She and her husband moved to the Scranton area from Massachusetts 30 years ago, following his job in the munitions industry.

“We’ve done so many things from petition signings to get everyone on the ballot to doing the door-to-door knocking,” said Medeiros. “Last weekend alone, just on Saturday, we had a call to action, Operation Red. We touched with over 50,000.” “People come to candidates’ events, and say, ‘I want to volunteer,’ and we reach out to them, and they join the group of volunteers.”

“In the last two years, we’ve switched and 200,000 voters (statewide), and young people are getting involved,” she said. “And that’s awesome. People are switching from Democrat to Republican.”  However, as of April 18, there were 4 million registered Democrats and 3.4 million registered Republicans in Pennsylvania, according to the Department of State.

She hears that folks are concerned about the economy and gas prices.

“People are suffering out there,” she said. “And the border. That’s such an issue with the influx of people coming over the border and the fentanyl that’s coming into the country through the border because it’s insecure, and we’re losing a lot of our younger people to fentanyl…And it’s not just drug addicts. It’s recreational. People are trying it one or two times, and they’re dying because it’s laced with Fentanyl.”

“America’s in real trouble here,” she said.

Meanwhile, in this election cycle, the Pennsylvania Victory Team has held more than 1,400 Republican Leadership Institute trainings with nearly 9,000 people attending and has recruited or activated more than 38,000 volunteers. For Operation Red, the RNC contacted more than 50,000 voters.

The party also hosted a Black business expo, showcasing 15 local small businesses for 80 attendees held at the RNC’s Black American Community Center in Philadelphia.  Some of the people who came to that event also changed their party or registered to vote for the first time.

Meanwhile, the RNC has more than three dozen staff on the ground in the state with more on the way.

They also opened an Allentown Hispanic Community Center for strategic engagement as well as the Philadelphia Black American Community Center for strategic engagement.

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GOP Hopes Rising Gas Prices Bring More Support For Republicans

Republicans are trying to parley rising gasoline prices into new voter registrations as the midterm elections approach, and they are going straight to the pumps to do it.

Both here in the Delaware Valley and around the state, volunteers have taken their voter contact efforts to gas stations to entice disgruntled drivers to switch parties and register as newly minted Republicans.

“Disappointed families and workers are flipping their registration, as well as registering for the first time, thanks to pain at the pump brought on by the Biden gas hike,” said RNC spokeswoman Rachel Lee. “Pennsylvanians cannot afford more of Joe Biden’s costly war on American energy. As Keystone State families and workers suffer from the Biden Gas Hike, Republicans are registering voters in a mounting red wave ahead of November.”

Republicans reject the Democrats’ claims that rising gas prices are “Putin’s price hike,” as President Biden has put it.

“Before Russia invaded Ukraine, the average cost for a gallon of gas had already risen by $1.14 since Joe Biden became president,” she said. “The average American household could spend up to an additional $2,000 on gas this year because of the Biden Gas Hike.”

One of the volunteers is Bucks County resident Kim Bedillion, president of the Pennridge Area Republican Club.

“Trips to fill up the tank are causing hardships like never before, and as we are talking to voters at gas stations, we’re hearing that from people of all backgrounds. Republicans’ success in registering voters at gas stations shows just how fed up Pennsylvanians are with the Biden gas hike,” said Bedillion.

The Philadelphia GOP is also actively registering voters as the May 17 primary approaches. The final day to register to vote in the primary is May 2.

Shamus O’Donnell registers voters at an event for Sam Oropezo, who is running for the state Senate in Philadelphia District 5.

Its message is, “Streets that everyone feels safe to walk, in every community — meaning not just in elite progressive neighborhoods; providing the tools to everyday Philadelphians to lift themselves up and thrive both economically and socially.

“The freedom for families to choose where to send our children to school, and necessary improvements to our city’s schools — focusing on basic reading and math, not radical curriculum.”

Meanwhile, in Cheltenham, yard signs are springing up all over the township inviting people to join the Cheltenham Township Republican Organization (CTRO).

While registration shows 20,000 Democrats to fewer than 4,000 Republicans, CTRO Chair Myron Goldman hopes to bring more voters into the fold.

“Cheltenham is, in effect, a one-party township, but there is a functioning Republican organization,” he said. The Republicans field candidates and serve as watchdogs over the commissioners and school board.

“We regularly run voting registration drives at various locations in the county and also contact new move-ins to have them register Republican,” said Julia Vahey, executive director of the Montgomery County Republicans.

Felice Fein, vice-chair of the Chester County Republicans said, “The Pennsylvania GOP regional director, John Gavin, and his team are doing an organized voter registration drive throughout Chester County. They do occasional events everywhere from gas stations to restaurants. Currently, they and the Republican Committee of Chester County are focusing on people who recently moved into Chester County and encouraging them to register in time to have their voices heard in the primary election. The Pennsylvania GOP team and the county committee members are knocking on doors and providing voter registration forms as well as mail-in ballot applications if the residents are interested in voting by mail.”

Democrats still have a voter registration advantage in Pennsylvania, but the numbers are significantly narrower than during the 2018 midterms. That year, there were 4,111,325 registered Democrats and 3,270,882 Republicans, with 1,172,291 unaffiliated voters. That was a 25 percent registration advantage for Democrats over the GOP.

In the most recent available data, there are currently 4,003,113 Democrats and 3,434,125 Republicans — an advantage of just 16.5 percent. And historically Republicans have outperformed their registration numbers, which is how they held their majorities in the Statehouse in 2020, as well as picking up the state auditor and treasurer’s offices.

With predictions of a red wave — and President Biden’s approval rating down 20 points since he took office just over a year ago — Pennsylvania Republicans feel optimistic.

“Thanks to the RNC’s permanent, data-driven ground game, the voter registration gap in the Keystone State continues to narrow,” Lee said. “Republicans have closed the voter registration gap by over 200,000 registrants in the last two years. In just the last two weeks, Republicans have shrunk the gap by over 2,700 registrants.”

“Killing American energy is a promise Joe Biden has actually kept,” Lee added. “On his first day in office, Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, killing 11,000 jobs.”


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UPDATE: State Supreme Court Puts Candidates’ Petition Gathering on Hold

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Wednesday put a hold on candidates’ gathering signatures for their petitions to be on the ballot for the May 17 primary.

At issue are appeals to the newly-redistricted maps awaiting a ruling from the High Court.

But for the most part, intrepid Pennsylvania candidates are taking the delay in stride. Signature gathering was set to begin Feb. 15.

“It is unfortunate, but we are all going to have to make the best of whatever new schedule is issued,” said George Bochetto, a Philadelphia lawyer and Republican who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Dave White, a former Delaware County councilman who is running for governor said, “Governor Wolf has created a mess through his attempt at a partisan power grab. My hope is that Pennsylvania elected officials and citizens will have the opportunity to draw congressional lines and determine who our representatives are. Unfortunately, if the past is a harbinger of the future, we will again see a liberal professor from California determine the congressional representation in Pennsylvania. It’s sad and proof we need a change of leadership.”

Dave Galluch, a Newtown Square Republican running for the congressional seat now held by Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware Co.), also blamed Wolf.

“From the very beginning of this process, it was clear Governor Wolf had little interest in constructively working with the legislature to come to a consensus solution,” said Galluch. “Our goal should be to give every citizen a voice, no matter where they live in Pennsylvania. Things didn’t have to unfold this way. The process could have been orderly, sensible, and completed on time. It’s unfortunate the Governor was content to drag his feet so the court would eventually have to intervene — making it more difficult for candidates and voters alike to prepare for the upcoming election.”

“We’re ready to go as soon as we’re given the green light. We have a statewide network of circulators chomping at the bit,” said Charlie Gerow, a GOP consultant also running for governor. “We hope that the Supreme Court will do the right thing with reapportionment and that we can get back on schedule as soon as possible.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, the Chester County Chamber president who is also a Republican running for governor, said, “I am blessed to have dozens of volunteers ready to stuff petition-packets to mail to hundreds of volunteers across the state.  We are ready to go as soon as the Supreme Court gives the green light.”

“Our nominating convention is scheduled for next Tuesday (Feb. 15),” said Michael Taylor, solicitor for the Chester County Republicans. “We traditionally hold it on the first day of petition signing. We are still deciding on the best path forward. So the main difficulty is the immediate change of gears.

“Overall though, I think the Supreme Court made a smart move in placing the stay. We were working through scenarios of what to do if the lines suddenly changed. We may have ended up with two conventions. In the end, the Court removed those issues and gave us the scheduling issue instead.”


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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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