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EBERHART: It’s Time for Republicans to Come Home

The GOP presidential primary contest is over. Donald Trump won 27 of the first 29 contests, and his last serious challenger, Nikki Haley, dropped out.

Most Republican voters are clearly in favor of a second term with Trump. It’s time for the Grand Old Party to unite behind the presumptive nominee and focus all of its energy on the campaign ahead to get Joe Biden — and his liberal policies — out of the White House.

Coming together after a bruising nominating contest is always a challenging step for a political party. Emotions are still raw after a primary that often devolved into petty personal attacks against candidates and their supporters, and the winning side’s temptation to seek political revenge against those who lost is always strong.

But Republicans need to unite now for one straightforward reason: Biden isn’t just vulnerable; he’s beatable.

A recent CBS News/YouGov poll shows how poorly voters see Biden’s time in office. Not only is Trump leading Biden 52 percent to 48 percent in a head-to-head comparison, but voters consistently give Trump better grades for his time in office.

When asked how the economy was during Trump’s first term in office, 65 percent of voters said it was “good,” compared to 38 percent who think today’s economy is doing well. On immigration, which recently became the top issue for all Americans, a whopping 72 percent said Trump’s policies would decrease the number of migrants flooding America, compared to 50 percent for Biden.

Trump also leads Biden in the swing states that will decide the 2024 presidential election — and likely control of Congress. A recent Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll shows Trump leading 48 percent to Biden’s 43 percent in seven swing states. Trump’s biggest lead is in North Carolina, where he’s up 9 points. That’s a massive advantage in a state Trump squeaked out a 1-point win in 2020.

A recent New York Times/Siena College poll yielded similar results, showing that Trump beat Biden 48 percent to 43 percent among registered voters. The same survey found that 65 percent of voters feel America is headed in the wrong direction under the current administration. The best Biden can point to is polls from Fox News and The Wall Street Journal that have Trump up by just 2 points.

And to top it all off, Biden has an approval rating of 38 percent. That’s not only abysmally bad, but it’s also historically bad. Biden has the lowest approval rating at this point in his presidency of any president in modern history.

All of this has Democrats slamming the panic button as they grabble with the fact that their candidate is an unpopular octogenarian who is saddled with an even less popular running mate.

The 2024 election will affect not only the presidency but also control of the Senate. With the progressive wing of the Democratic Party showing the exit to the last two moderate Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Republicans stand their best chance in years of taking back the majority.

Manchin and Sinema were the lone centrist voices remaining in the Democratic Party. They took reasonable positions on immigration, economic growth and energy security. With their exit, there’s little to keep Democrats from pursuing an agenda of insecurity at home and abroad and higher energy prices.

It’s a cliché to say this is the most important election of our lifetime. Every election is important, but there’s no doubt much is at stake in November. The 2024 election will have far-reaching consequences for America, affecting domestic and international affairs.

We’ve seen what four years of Biden’s presidency have given us: rampant inflation, stagnant wages, and rising prices for food, rent and other must-have staples. We can’t afford an additional four years.

Republicans are divided over many policy issues, including spending and foreign relations. Still, Trump’s dominance of the presidential nominating process is an opportunity to unify behind the singular goal of taking back the White House. I say that as someone who initially supported another candidate but recognizes how urgent it is for Republicans to come together to stop the economic and security harm another four years of Democratic control would bring.

Republican voters have spoken loud and clear. They want Trump. Republican leaders should listen to voters and support our nominee.

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York DA Dave Sunday Gets GOP Nod for Attorney General

The Pennsylvania Republican Party has endorsed York County District Attorney Dave Sunday for attorney general.

A United States Navy veteran, Sunday put himself through college and law school while working at UPS. Sunday leads an office of prosecutors and detectives who together investigate and prosecute approximately 9,000 criminal cases annually, according to his website.

Sunday won the regional straw polls. Both he and Kat Copeland, the former Delaware County DA and federal prosecutor, were interviewed by party leaders during a virtual meeting Monday evening, where Sunday got the nod.

Sunday was the first Republican to throw his hat into the ring for the attorney general nomination. Previously, Copeland indicated she would not continue in the race if she was not the endorsed candidate.

A third candidate, state Rep. state Rep. Craig Williams, a former federal prosecutor and U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, plans to compete in the April 23 primary. Williams withdrew from contention for the endorsement over the weekend.

Sunday earned an undergraduate degree in finance from Penn State University in 2002 and graduated from Widener Law School in 2007. During law school, he worked as a legal intern at the United Nations Office of the Secretariat in New York, where he was assigned to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

After graduation from law school, he worked as a law clerk for Joseph C. Adams, former President Judge of the York County Court of Common Pleas. For the last 15 years, Sunday has been a prosecutor with the York County District Attorney’s Office and, prior to being sworn in as district attorney, served as the chief Deputy prosecutor of litigation.

Sunday said his approach to public safety resulted in a 30 percent decrease in crime during his first term; reductions in the prison population by almost 40 percent since its peak; a reduced supervision caseload; and a recent study conducted by IUP indicates that offenders in York have the lowest recidivism rate over a five-year period as compared to seven other counties. Additionally, since the implementation of York’s Early Termination of Probation Program, only 5 percent of the cases submitted recidivated within two years, resulting in a 95 percent success rate, now serving as a statewide model.

He has tried some 50 felony cases before juries and successfully prosecuted more than 10 of the most high-profile York County murders. Sunday has prosecuted multi-defendant gang murder cases and serves on the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.

Sunday is married and lives in York County with his wife and son.

“I am thrilled with the experienced team that our State Committee has voted to endorse for the 2024 election,” said Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Lawrence Tabas, in a press release. “This team is committed, qualified, and prepared. We know they will be invaluable assets to citizens of the Commonwealth and the United States when they are elected in November.”

Along with Sunday for Attorney General, the state GOP has endorsed Dave McCormick for U.S. Senate, Treasurer Stacy Garrity, Auditor General Tim DeFoor.

Williams is already throwing punches.

“More than a year ago, the Republican lobbyists of Harrisburg and political establishment of Washington, D.C. picked their candidate for attorney general,” Williams said. “What they did not tell anyone was that they picked a Democrat in Dave Sunday. He runs his office like a progressive Democrat district attorney, rivaling Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner with his progressive policies of not prosecuting, letting people out of jail, and not seeking prison sentences. Sunday has allowed the City of York to become one of the most violent places in the commonwealth. He offers no contrast to the other Democrats in this race.”

John Gower, one of Sunday’s campaign managers, did not comment Monday night.

Williams has hired Mark Campbell, who served as campaign manager for Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in 2021, to oversee his campaign.

Williams retired from the Marines as a colonel after 28 years of service. During that time, he flew 56 combat missions in the F/A18D during the Gulf War. He was decorated 11 times, including twice for valor in combat.

Williams attended law school while in the Marines and became the chief prosecutor for the largest base in the Marine Corps. He also served as Deputy Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with an emphasis on ethics and detainee issues in federal court. He later served as a federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice, focusing on gun crime, violent crime, and organized drug distribution cartels. He was also a prosecutor for the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

He represents portions of Delaware and Chester Counties in the state House.

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Battle Over Central Bucks Schools Will Be Settled at Ballot Box

The battle between progressive activists and advocates for parents’ rights at Central Bucks School District will be settled at the ballot box this fall.

Both sides are fielding full slates of candidates for November’s election. The Republican primary slate is Dr. Stephen Mass, Board President Dana Hunter, Glenn Schloeffel, Aarati Martino, and Tony Arjona. The Democratic candidates are school board member Karen Smith, Heather Reynolds, Dana Foley, Rick Haring, and Susan Gibson.

A backlash to what critics call far-left policies imposed on the Central Bucks School District resulted in a Republican-controlled school board in 2021. Progressive activists immediately went on the warpath, making allegations of bullying and bigotry to discredit the Republican board.

The ACLU targeted the district, which filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and activist groups. It was also the brunt of bad publicity as critics brought out protestors to fight alleged “book bans” and support transgender rights.

However, an exhaustive report by the prominent law firm Duane Morris found many of the allegations, including not acting against bullying of LGBTQ+ students, made by the critics turned out to be false.

Delaware Valley Journal’s previous reporting showed the controversial Policy 321, which was widely protested as a way to keep gay pride flags out of classrooms, actually kept all displays of political content, including Trump flags, out of classrooms unless they were part of the curriculum being taught. Teachers must also refrain from advocating their own political points of view to their students.

Image from “Gender Queer”

The school board also drew heat for a new policy that allows people to ask for school library books to be reviewed if they have gratuitous sex and violence or pornographic illustrations.

Mass, a Republican candidate, said, “If some of our opponents were somewhat more rational, we’d never have had the acrimony.”

He noted that his opponent, Smith, had reported the district to the DOE. The district subsequently paid $1 million in legal fees to defend itself.

Smith, who is running for her third term against Mass in Region 1, denied she filed a formal complaint against the district. Rather, she said, she emailed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona “and asked for his help.” At that point, she said the ACLU and other groups were threatening to sue the district. She claimed the Duane Morris lawyers never interviewed her. “I was doing my duty as an elected official,” said Smith.

If she is re-elected, along with others on the Democratic slate, “I would like to return the focus to academics and making positive changes for students. The last year or so, there’s been quite a lot of negative attention (to the district).”

“The board majority, their agenda, has not taken us in a positive direction,” said Smith. “I would like to return to fundamentals and away from the national culture war.”

As for allowing parents to review books, many of those books “have images that can’t be printed in the newspaper,” Mass said. He supports the steps the Republican majority board has taken to protect students.

Reportedly, two books, “Gender Queer” and “This Book is Gay,” have been reviewed and will be replaced with other books. “Gender Queer” has caused controversy in other Delaware Valley districts, where parents are dismayed at seeing graphic depictions of sexual acts.

“The majority of people, Democrat or Republican, would be shocked” to see what’s in these books, Mass said. And “This Book Is Gay” describes itself as a “how-to” book for having sex, including illustrations depicting explicit nudity and sexual activities.

Smith said part of the complaint by the ACLU was regarding the board’s library book policy, which she had no part in.

“Obviously, I’m happy to make a change there,’ said Smith.

“The elephant in the room is kids aren’t reading,” said Mass. “They’re not reading anything challenging.” That is an issue the district needs to focus on.

As for the primary, “It’s the warm-up for the general election,” he said. The slate of Republican candidates will “concentrate on getting our message out.”

Martino said, “I am honored and excited to be the Republican candidate for Central Bucks School Board. When campaigning, I enjoy talking to many of my fellow citizens and making new friends in our community. It is also clear that I have to set the record straight with many of my fellow neighbors.”

Rick Haring, her opponent in Region 6, did not respond to the DVJournal’s request for an interview.

His website states that if elected, he will  “fight  “to prevent book bans on material with literary merit” and sup” ort LGBTQ+ students.

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The Off-Year Election Season Begins Next Week. Here’s How to Vote in DelVal

May 16 is Municipal Primary Day in Pennsylvania. Voters will head to local precincts to decide which candidates will participate in the 2023 off-year November elections.

While not as high-profile as state and national elections, this year’s contests will let voters decide who controls numerous critical local offices, including school boards and judgeships.

Since the infamous Florida 2000 election, the voting process has itself become political. Pennsylvania has seen a wave of voting reforms in recent years, and it can be hard for the average voter to keep up with the changes.

Here are the most important rules for voters planning to cast their ballots this year in the Delaware Valley and beyond.

Mail-in voting. During the pandemic, Pennsylvania adopted a no-excuses mail-in voting system. Voters may apply for a mail-in ballot and receive one with no questions asked. The deadline to do so for the primary elections is Tuesday, May 9. For the municipal general elections on November 7, it is Oct. 31. 

Kelly Cofrancisco, a spokeswoman for Montgomery County, told DVJournal that the “most notable changes” to mail-in balloting are “the date requirements.”

“Voters must sign & date the Voters Declaration, expressing the date with month, day and year; and use the date of the day they signed the envelope,” Cofrancisco said.

She said the county itself “changed the color of the inner secrecy envelope to yellow” this year in an effort to “cut down on the number of ‘naked’ ballots, as that is the most common reason we reject ballots in our elections.”

“Voters should seal their ballot into the yellow envelope & then insert the yellow envelope into the white envelope,” she said.

In both the primary and the municipal elections this year, county boards of election must receive mail-in ballots by 8:00 p.m. on the election day (May 16 and Nov. 7, respectively).

In addition to directly mailing their ballots to their respective county offices, Delaware Valley voters can also drop off their ballots at numerous drop boxes in the area. Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, and Bucks County have all published locations of their drop box locations.

Except in narrow circumstances involving disabled voters, ballots can only be returned by those casting them. “Ballot harvesting” — collecting ballots on behalf of others and delivering them to voting authorities — is disallowed by Pennsylvania law.

Voter ID. Pennsylvania has a lax voter identification law. Voters do not need to produce photo identification in order to cast their votes and only need to provide any kind of identification in limited circumstances.

The Pennsylvania Department of State stipulates a voter must produce identification only when he or she votes at a precinct for the first time. If they lack a photo ID, voters can use bank statements, utility bills, paychecks, or several other non-photo forms of ID.

After their first visit to a polling station, voters “need not show any identification unless otherwise noted in the poll book,” the state says.

Voters casting a mail-in ballot must provide either a driver’s license number, part of a Social Security number, or one of several forms of photo ID.

Voting times. Polls are open statewide from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., including in the primary election. Voters in line by 8 p.m. should be allowed to cast a ballot.

Who can vote in the primary? Pennsylvania is one of nine states with closed primaries, meaning only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote for candidates during partisan spring elections. (The state allows “all voters” to cast ballots for “constitutional amendments,” “ballot questions,” and “any special election contests held at the same time as a primary election.”)

The Delaware County elections office said on May 16, the 163rd State Representative District will elect a new House Representative while Radnor Township’s 4th Ward (Precincts 1 and 2) will choose a new Township Commissioner. All voters are eligible to participate in these contests.

“In both special elections, voters should be aware that the winning candidates will take office shortly after the election,” the county said. “This is unlike the primary contests, where candidates are seeking the nomination to represent a party on the November ballots.”

The closed primary system may change shortly. State Sens. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) and Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) introduced a measure last month to move Pennsylvania to an “open primary” where independents can cast ballots for major party candidates.

Currently, the only option for independents is to register as a major party member before an election. The 15-day deadline for doing so in the May primary has passed, but there’s still plenty of time to change affiliations before the November municipal election.

DelVal voters can review local voting rules information on the Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, and Delaware county websites.

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Monto Commissioner Races Heat Up

The old saying “politics ain’t beanbag” is playing out in the Montgomery County commissioners race, which is more wide open than it has been in recent memory.

Monday is the last day to register to vote in the May 16 primary. And in the last two weeks of April, the contest for two Republican Montgomery County commissioner spots on the fall ballot has ramped up into high gear.

Radio stations are running ads for incumbent Joe Gale and another narrated by Liz Ferry, touting herself and her running mate, Tom DiBello.

Ferry also has many digital ads on Facebook and other platforms and plans to air TV ads, too. Both Ferry and DiBello were endorsed by the county GOP. Gale did not seek its endorsement.

And there are the mailings, too.

Gale sent at least two cards that urge voters to “bullet vote” or vote for only him while decrying the other Republicans as “liberals” who voted to raise taxes in their previous positions. He slammed Ferry for voting for a resolution as an Upper Dublin commissioner that “deplored” law enforcement for the death of George Floyd and mentioned “the innate racial prejudice in each and every person.”

One Republican voter told DVJournal that after seeing that mailing, he is unlikely to vote for either Gale or Ferry.

On the other hand, a mailer on behalf of DiBello and sent by a political action committee (PAC) offered an upbeat message. It said he would support small business and law enforcement, wants to keep elections fair, and is for “parents’ voices in their kids’ education.”

Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale

Asked about negative ads, Charlie Gerow, a Republican consultant, and CEO of Quantum Communications, said, “They work. Otherwise, people wouldn’t use them. But they generally work only in a positive environment. That means it’s best to establish your own positive identity by telling voters about your qualifications and what you’ll do in office before going after your opponent.

“It’s also important that the negatives be limited to compare and contrast ads focused on things in the public arena. Cheap shots and slander usually backfire.”

Asked about his attacks on his fellow Republicans, Gale blamed “party bosses” who want an “insider” on the board to funnel contracts to their favored companies.

He said that he is an “unwavering fiscal watchdog.”

“I have opposed every tax increase sent to my desk, identified hundreds of millions of dollars in wasteful spending, and exposed pay-to-play politics. In addition, I battled the totalitarian COVID-19 lockdowns and shutdowns that brought harm to so many schoolchildren and small-business owners.

“Most notably, I have been Pennsylvania’s leading voice in the effort to restore election integrity. I voted to implement paper ballots that provide an auditable record of every vote cast, opposed the purchase and installation of mail-in ballot drop-boxes, and opposed all contracts related to mail-in voting and the mail-in Ballot Counting Center.” He also refused to certify elections since Act 77, allowing no-excuse mail-in votes, passed the legislature.

“The Republican voters of Montgomery County have the right to know that the GOP establishment is deceiving them by endorsing two candidates who have a proven record of governing like left-wing Democrats,” said Gale.

The commissioners will be paid $98,200 next year. However, Gale voted against the pay raise that the two Democrats on the board–Val Arkoosh and Kenneth Lawrence Jr.–passed as they also raised taxes by 8 percent. Gale said he would not take the pay increase.

But Ferry paints Gale as ineffective.

She said that even though there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the county, she and DeBello have a good shot at taking back the county Board of Commissioners, which has been in Democratic control since 2011.

With five relatively unknown people running on the Democratic side, Ferry and DeBello say there is an opening for Republicans to win this year by wooing independent voters.

“People are tired of Joe Gale working for third place. Tom and I believe we can win if we get out the vote,” said Ferry, who mentioned that Gale campaigned for governor last year while serving as commissioner.”

The three-member board has one seat reserved for the minority party.

“I get things done, unlike Joe Gale, who says he votes against tax increases and then approves almost every expense without asking any questions,” said Ferry.

Ferry said the last two years, she got her Upper Dublin board to pass budgets with no tax increases, despite being the only Republican among the seven members. And before that, she was able to pare costs to reduce tax hikes, she said.

She said she was able to stop high-density development in several residential areas and preserve open space, work to get small businesses open during COVID-19, worked with the Turnpike Commission to build a new zip ramp at Fort Washington in order to revitalize the Fort Washington office park and bring in new companies.

Of the five Democrats running—Commissioner Jamila Winder, Tanya Bamford, Neil Makhija, Kimberly Koch, and Noah Marlier–only Makhija appears to be sending campaign postcards so far.

Cheltenham resident Carol Bassetti, a registered Democrat, said she has received a few from him that “go straight to the shredder.” She doesn’t know about any of the five Democratic candidates running but said she would do her own research.

“I’m not going to look at his advertisements that say he’s the guy,” said Bassetti. “He’s not going to fix cancer or stop the war. I will do my due diligence before the election.”

 

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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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