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Jason Richey Leaves PA Governor’s Race, Endorses Bill McSwain

And then there were nine.

The crowded field of contenders for Pennsylvania’s Republican gubernatorial nomination just got a little less so with Jason Richey’s withdrawal on Thursday.

Richey, a Pittsburgh lawyer, also announced he was endorsing Bill McSwain. McSwain of West Chester, the former U.S. Attorney for Southeastern Pennsylvania, welcomed Richey’s endorsement.

“I am proud and honored to receive the endorsement of my friend Jason Richey, who has been a champion for economic growth, a strong defender of constitutional rights, and an advocate for school choice for all Pennsylvanians,” said McSwain. “Together, we will work to defeat Josh Shapiro and towards a stronger, safer, more secure Pennsylvania.”

Richey said he was “honored” by the support he received during his candidacy.

“My primary goal has never been my own political future, but rather restoring Pennsylvania to our place as the Keystone State that upholds constitutional rights, empowers parents to direct their children’s education, and embraces our energy potential,” Richey said.

“We need a unified party to defeat the disastrous left-wing policies of Gov. Tom Wolf and Josh Shapiro (the Democratic candidate for governor) that have decimated our communities,” he added. “My decision at this time will help unify our party and put us in the strongest possible position to defeat the left-wing Shapiro agenda in the fall and, more importantly, help build a better life for our families here in Pennsylvania.”

In recent days some Republican leaders had expressed concern over the number of candidates for governor, fearing it might lead to a splintering of the vote in the May 17 primary. A divisive primary might leave the GOP nominee too wounded to beat Shapiro in November.

McSwain is known for being tough on crime. If elected, he has promised to “revive Pennsylvania’s economy by cutting taxes for working families, by supporting small businesses, by reducing regulations and cutting wasteful spending. We will promote our energy industry instead of trying to regulate it to death. We will get the government off of your back.”

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Please Join DVJournal for GOP Lt. Governor’s Debate!

The Delaware Valley Journal will host an online debate for the Republican candidates for lieutenant governor at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23. Five candidates will be participating:

  • Jeff Coleman
  • Russ Diamond
  • Chris Frye
  • James Jones
  • Clarice Schillinger

The event is open to the public and the press.

The hour-long debate will be moderated by Managing Editor Michael Graham and News Editor Linda Stein.  To watch the debate online please use this link:

PODCAST: Republican Dave White Says PA Needs ‘Blue Collar Outsider’ for Governor

On this edition of the Delaware Valley Journal podcast Dave White, a Delaware County businessman and former county council member, talks about why he’s running in the GOP primary for governor. White, a third-generation pipe-fitter, tells DVJ’s News Editor Linda Stein his career path — learning a trade, not attending college — is one Pennsylvania should support.

White also calls out Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner, and he pledges to support the state’s energy sector and the jobs it creates.

Hosted by Michael Graham.

Parnell’s Withdrawal From Senate Race Opens Door For Dr. Oz, Others

Republican frontrunner Sean Parnell announced Monday he is suspending his campaign for the U.S. Senate. Parnell was faced with a judge’s decision to award the custody of his children to his estranged wife amid a bitter divorce case with allegations of abuse.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s retirement is attracting numerous candidates from both parties. And the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate race also has drawn national attention with the control of the now 50-50 Senate in the balance. Some pundits have claimed Pennsylvania’s open seat is the most likely to flip from Republican to Democrat.

When former President Donald Trump endorsed Parnell, a bestselling author and former Army Ranger who ran for Congress against Conor Lamb, it catapulted him to the front of the crowded field vying for the Republican voters’ nod in the May 17, 2022 primary.

And with Parnell, who lives in western Pennsylvania out of the way, the candidates from the Southeast will have more room to run.

“It means the Trump endorsement is up for grabs again,” said Robin Kolodny, chair of the political science department at Temple University. “It’s unclear who will get it as several other candidates have close ties to Trump. Parnell’s image problems just can’t survive a 10 person field.”

“Expect a few more people to drop out before the February 15 filing deadline,” Kolodny added.

Veteran Republican political strategist Christopher Nicholas said, “Parnell’s announcement shakes up an already unsettled GOP primary here. It appears as though other candidates will enter the race and it will give Ambassador (Carla) Sands another opportunity to try to hoist the Trumpy banner in the primary.”

“I thought that President Trump’s endorsement of Parnell made him the frontrunner for the Republican nomination,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. “This undoubtedly changes the race and I think we’ll need to see whether the former president endorses another candidate before we make any guesses about who is the current frontrunner. At the moment, none of the remaining candidates seems to have any notable advantages over the others.”

Jeff Bartos, the Montgomery County businessman and a Republican candidate for Senate, declined to comment about Parnell’s situation. However, Bartos’ campaign was the first to fire shots at Parnell as his messy divorce situation became public.

In September, the Bartos campaign launched a statewide digital ad campaign against Parnell.

“Sean Parnell has a long, well-documented, and disturbing history when it comes to his treatment of women. Sean’s vile actions and attitudes have already cost him his guns, and his home,” said Conor McGuinness, campaign manager for Bartos, at that time. “Enough is enough. We have to hold Sean Parnell accountable for his actions – and if we don’t, it will cost Pennsylvania and our nation dearly.”

Montgomery County author and Fox TV commentator Kathy Barnette, a Republican who is also the running, said, “Now more than ever, we need to focus on what’s in front of us.  Democrats have shown us exactly who they are and what they mean when they say they want to ‘fundamentally change’ our nation.  We reject their change.  That’s why it is vital we select a true conservative to fill this Senate seat in Pennsylvania.  We must elect a candidate who can relate to the hard-working people of Pennsylvania.  Farmers, steelworkers, small business owners – all need a senator who understands their plight with rising gas prices, food prices and the cost to heat their homes.  We are living in serious times and we must focus.

“We must elect a candidate who will passionately defend our American values.  The Republican Party cannot continue to put forward the same-old, cookie-cutter Republican and expect to win this Senate seat,” said Barnette, promising to be that candidate.

Sands, who served as ambassador to Denmark under Trump, did not respond to a request for a comment. However, Sean Gale, a Montgomery County lawyer and Senate candidate, did not hesitate to take a jab at Parnell.

“To be honest, Sean Parnell was a flawed candidate from the very start. Putting aside his scandals and courtroom drama, Sean Parnell never had a path to win both the May primary election and November general election,” said Gale. “Pennsylvania needs a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who can rally conservative voters in central and western Pennsylvania while simultaneously appealing to Independent voters and soft Democrats in southeastern Pennsylvania.  In truth, I’m the only Republican candidate in the 2022 Senate race who has the unique ability to not only energize and turnout the base, but reduce the margin of defeat in the City of Philadelphia and its deep blue surrounding suburbs. I appeal to voters across the political spectrum because I’m not afraid to expose corruption and fecklessness in my own party.”

Meanwhile, celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz is rumored to be considering entering the race, with buzz that he plans to buy a house in the Philadelphia suburbs. Others said to be contemplating a bid include David McCormick, a hedge fund CEO, and former Chester County Congressman Ryan Costello. And some in Trump’s orbit are now championing McCormick.

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New County Health Inspectors Will Add to Taxpayer, Business Costs

Delaware County should allow municipalities to keep their health inspectors. That was the message from two Republicans running for Delaware County Council–Joe Lombardo and Frank Agovino–who held a press conference Monday at J.D. McGillicuddy’s in Havertown with other small business owners.

County officials had announced the county government would take over the health inspections of restaurants and stores from the 49 municipalities and make those inspections a function of the new county health department, which is slated to open in January 2022.

Lombardo, who is also the Clifton Heights mayor, said the proposal for the new health department to take over the function is a “power grab” by Delaware County that would have “catastrophic effects on our bar and restaurant owners.”

It is “something that sounds good on paper but in practice, will not work,” said Lombardo. “And will only make the situation worse.”

It makes more sense to allow municipalities to continue doing the inspections because it keeps bureaucracy to a minimum and provides a swifter turnaround time to business owners trying to open or have something approved, like a catering job, he said. The county, in its proposed regulations, gives itself 30 days to issue a permit, Lombardo noted.

“Why they’re trying to do this is nothing other than to grab the fee,” he said.

Meanwhile, the county will permit the municipalities to have their local inspectors do other tasks, such as checking restaurant grease traps, he said. But the inspectors are paid through those fees the county would take, so that will be more money for each municipality (and local taxpayers) to expend for the inspections without being allowed to charge a fee.

“It hurts the business owner and hurts the community,” said Lombardo. “For me, it’s taking away something we do for our community, for our businesses in our community.” People will no longer be able to call the borough with a problem and get it fixed quickly.

“It’s handcuffing the elected officials in the local municipalities,” said Lombardo.

Agovino said the business owners don’t dispute having a county health department deal with issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic. But they are against the county taking these inspections from the towns.

Lombardo said he sat in on a Zoom conference on the topic with county Councilwoman Monica Taylor. “I don’t think they even know what all they’re going to be doing.”

While the county planned to hire 80 people by January and start the inspections, since then the municipalities have been notified they will not be ready by then.

“You can’t find help,” said Lombardo. “How they thought they were going to hire 80 people by January 1 is beyond me.”

“I don’t know what the rush is,” said Tom Thornton, owner of McGillicuddy’s. “Maybe it’s a good idea in theory for down the road, but do I think it should be implemented by Jan. 1? It doesn’t sound like it at all. As Mr. Lombardo alluded to, it’s just going to create more tax dollars for Haverford Township, if they are not going to be able to charge the fees they charge every year, which vary by the size of your building. Who’s going to pay these people?  The county is just looking for a money grab. At whose expense. At some point, somebody is going to have to pay for the local municipalities for them to pay their employees. So now is that going to fall on the business owners or the taxpayers? Either way, it stinks. It’s  no good for anyone.”

Lombardo added, “We got beat up with the reassessment this year. We’re going to get beat up with this. There’s only so much people can take. People are on fixed incomes. There was an article that came out last week that heating oil and natural gas is going to be up 30 to 50 percent this year in the winter. How much can people take?”

A.J.  Loustau, the owner of Centrella’s Deli, said he was curious to know where the plan is coming from.

“I have a great relationship with the local health department,” he said. “We just went through a remodel. I was on the phone with them often just asking questions about how things need to be set up…they were fantastic. They always have been. I’ve never had an issue…If it ain’t broke why fix it?”

Conor Quinn owner of Kettle, a café, said he agrees with the others.

“Who are you going to call?” Quinn, who is also a Haverford Township commissioner, said that when people call him he will have to refer them to the county instead of handling a problem locally.  “That’s not fair to them.”

Thornton said he goes through Manayunk to a restaurant supply store and noticed during the pandemic that many restaurants there had set up tables for outdoor dining. He brought that idea back and was able to get local approval quickly to help his restaurant stay in business.

“It took one phone call from me to Conor,” said Thornton. “I went to the Board of Commissioners.  If we didn’t have that outdoor dining these doors would be closed and I wouldn’t be standing here today. Things like that, where I needed action sooner than 30 days and it was turned around within 30 days.”

Agovino said the county plans to use federal COVID reimbursement funds to pay for this health inspector program through 2024, but “that’s always a dangerous place when you have one-time money and you’re using it for something that is going to be reoccurring…At the end of the day, it’s going to affect small businesses and taxpayers.”

However, Adrienne Marofsky, a spokeswoman for the county, said the county health department must include an inspection program under state law.

“The state requires the county to take over local inspections under Act 315 in order to be an accredited Health Department,” she said. “Our fees are less than those charged in neighboring counties.”

Meanwhile, the new Health Department is slated to cost $10 million its first year, according to a consultant’s report.