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PA Sen. Toomey Endorses Lt. Gov. Candidate Jeff Coleman

Republican lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Coleman has received an endorsement from a Pennsylvania GOP heavy-hitter—U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

Coleman, then a state representative, was one of a handful of elected Republicans to back Toomey’s 2004 GOP primary challenge against incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter. Toomey lost in a close race with 49 percent of the vote.

“Jeff Coleman’s message is right for this moment,” Toomey said. “He’s arguing that civil debate rooted in conservative principles is the best way for Republicans to win elections and ultimately govern. He’s right. Jeff also knows that the lieutenant governor’s primary role is a limited one- maintaining decorum and delivering the policy agenda.

“On both fronts, Jeff has the experience and relationships to bring people together and make the next Republican governor successful. I’ve known Jeff for almost two decades. In a field of good people, he’s the best prepared for the challenges of this office,” Toomey said. “I enthusiastically endorse his candidacy for lieutenant governor.”

Coleman thanked the senator for his endorsement. “Eighteen primaries ago, I backed Sen. Pat Toomey over Arlen Specter. That initial loss built an infrastructure that still wins elections to this day. That model puts principles first, which is always the right choice,” Coleman said.

However, it’s an open question whether Toomey’s endorsement will sway Republican primary voters.

“Endorsements are really context-dependent,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. “An endorsement from, for example, President Donald Trump could have a strong effect in a Republican primary, while it could have negative consequences in a swing district. In that circumstance, it is unlikely Toomey’s endorsement will have much effect in the lieutenant governor’s race since it is such a low visibility content and since the senator is not wildly popular among Republican primary voters. On the other hand, if endorsements can help with fundraising or organizational matters, they can be of some consequence.”

And given Toomey’s lack of enthusiasm for Trump, who remains extremely popular with the Republican base, there is a real question about how much this endorsement will help in the hotly-contested GOP primary.

Coleman took part in a recent Delaware Valley Journal debate where he reiterated his view that politics needs a revival of civility, adding: “To be a Republican is to be for limited government, lower taxes, personal responsibility, dignity, freedom, and the value of human life.”

“Politics amplifies that entire series of questions that are irrelevant when it comes to actually deciding should we pave the road, should we build a store, should we legalize something, should we ban this?” Coleman told the Delaware Valley Journal in a recent interview. “I have been very careful not to single out any one political figure because when I do that, the conversation ends. There’s got to be amnesty for people who voted for Joe Biden. We need Joe Biden voters to come back to the Republican Party, or we don’t win the suburbs. That’s a fact.”

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Delaware Valley Journal Hosts GOP Lt. Governor Candidates’ Debate

The Delaware Valley Journal hosted an online debate for the Republican lieutenant governor candidates on Thursday.

Among those vying for the position in the May 17 primary are John Brown, Jeff Coleman, Mayor Chris Frye, James Jones, Clarice Schillinger and Jesse Streeter participated in the forum. Rep. Russ Diamond was unable to join due to technical difficulties.

While the group agreed in many areas, there were differences in style, background, and solutions to the state’s problems.

 

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE LT. GOVERNOR DEBATE.

Brown, who has served as county executive for Northampton and mayor of Bangor, emphasized his government experience and leadership. He said the Wolf administration mismanaged the COVID pandemic, adding the problems facing the state from inflation to joblessness are “problems that I’ve been working on my entire life.”

Coleman founded Churchill Strategies, a communications firm in Harrisburg. He is a former state representative who also worked for the Commonwealth Foundation. He says he believes there is a “loss of civility” in public life and a need for the new governor to enact their policies swiftly, working with the state legislature.

Frye, the mayor of New Castle, said he would build relationships, connect with people and be “a servant leader.” He has a background in social work and nonprofit organizations.

Jones, a Hatboro resident, said he is a businessman rather than a politician. He has a “three to five-year plan” to help the new governor get the state back on track and has worked with labor unions and emergency management. Jones is also a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, Beirut, and the First Gulf War.

Schillinger, an education advocate from Horsham who co-founded Back to School PAC, said the governor is the chief executive officer of the commonwealth, and she has learned to be a CEO from “the man who trained Steve Jobs.” She wants to be “truly the voice of the residents of Pennsylvania.”

Streeter, a businessman who owns hotels and restaurants, would bring a “Six Sigma” management approach to Harrisburg. During the pandemic, the Wolf administration “used COVID for their own advantage” and “abused their power” when it deemed thousands of businesses nonessential, he said.

One duty of the lieutenant governor is to chair the Board of Pardons, and the candidates were asked what metrics they would use to decide who should receive pardons or commutations.

Jones and Brown emphasized the need for a case-by-case approach.

Schillinger said she would “back the blue” and be an advocate for crime victims’ rights. Streeter spoke about young men who “run with the wrong crowd,” get in trouble, and are imprisoned at a young age.

Coleman said there has been a “growing bipartisan consensus” that once people have paid their debt to society, they should be rehabilitated. But convicts also need “strong support” outside prison to do well once released.

Asked about the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which raises tolls yearly while losing money, Brown called it “a broken system.” Money from tolls is funding the State Police, instead of being used for infrastructure as originally envisioned.

The Turnpike issues need debate, and the Turnpike has been plagued by patronage, corruption, and failure to modernize, said Coleman.

But Jones countered there have already been “years and years” of debate, and it was time for action.

Schillinger, meanwhile, said she has been avoiding the Turnpike while traveling around the state for her campaign.

“Not every Pennsylvanian can ride on that road,” she said. “It takes a second mortgage to do so… It’s the most expensive road in America.” She also noted the Turnpike eliminated numerous toll taker jobs while paying millions to contractors.

Streeter, of Beaver County, said most of the state is small towns.

“We are taxed to support these urban cities,” he said.

Asked about Donald Trump and his impact on the Republican Party, most of the candidates spoke highly of Trump’s policies. Coleman was the notable exception, distancing himself from the Trump populism. To be a Republican is to be for “limited government, lower taxes, personal responsibility, dignity, freedom and the value of human life,” Coleman said.

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Absent Candidates Present Prime Target At GOP US Senate Debate

David McCormick, Carla Sands, and Dr. Mehmet Oz may have been gone during the Republican U.S. Senate debate Monday evening, but they were not forgotten.

The three candidates skipped the event, and their opponents called them out for it again and again.

“We have political tourists running in this race. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick do not know this state, they couldn’t be bothered to show up tonight and they don’t care about you,” said Montgomery County developer Jeff Bartos.

“I didn’t parachute into Pennsylvania to run for office,” said Bartos. “I’m a lifelong resident with a deep love for our commonwealth. You cannot save Main Street if you can’t find Main Street. And as we saw tonight, my out-of-state opponents don’t even care to try to find it.”

Kathy Barnette, George Bochetto, Everett Stern, and Jeff Bartos. (photo by Maria Andraos)

Huntington Valley resident Kathy Barnette, an author, and Fox News commentator said it was the second debate Oz and McCormick spurned.

“Jeff has thrown out a lot of punches on Dave McCormick and Mehmet Oz, and it is warranted. It is such an insult that this is the second debate and they refuse to come before the American people, and specifically Pennsylvanians.”

On a different topic, Barnette said, “We need to focus on the economy and not just welfare checks or stimulus checks to keep people floating by.”

Along with cutting taxes and deregulating, “We need to begin to stabilize the U.S. dollar. That creates job growth and a rising tide lifts all boats,” she said.

“Students follow jobs,” said candidate George Bochetto, a Philadelphia lawyer. “And in order to keep students in this area, we need to provide good jobs, attract good jobs, provide the environment that businesses want to invest in. Right now the current leadership we have in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with Democrat-run cities that are chasing away our businesses, the students will (go) away with them. So if we want these students here, we have to get them the best jobs imaginable and we have to invest in our communities and our businesses that will provide those jobs.”

And then there was relatively unknown candidate Everett Stern, who attacked his fellow Republicans — particularly Barnette — for supporting former President Donald Trump. He said Barnette should personally apologize for the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The audience booed Stern, an investigator and Chester County resident.

Jeff Bartos greets people after the debate.

“My mission is to absolutely make sure that a right-wing candidate backed by either Trump or Gen. [Michael] Flynn, does not get into office. And that means if I have to take down any of these candidates, to make sure I bring the moderates with me and a Democrat wins, so be it,” Stern said.

A hot topic for the Republicans on stage was inflation hitting gas prices and grocery store shelves.

Bochetto said inflation does not hurt rich people or those who are not paying taxes but takes a toll on the middle and working classes.

“But the handling of the COVID pandemic, the giveaways and the printing of money that has taken place, that is the terrible policy President Biden implemented on day one when he took office, which was to close down our development of natural gas in the United States of America…to force this country to start begging OPEC for oil and oil supplies, and they’re driving up the prices,” Bochetto said.  “And what’s driving up inflation? Go to the gas station. Fill your car up. See how much more it takes. That’s what’s driving inflation.”

Bartos said that during the pandemic he started a nonprofit and raised $3.5 million to help small businesses after he saw people “being crushed by a government that did not care.”

George Bochetto

“Then Biden administration comes in and put in policies that raise inflation…that have crushed, crushed the restaurants and small businesses that already operate on a razor-thin margin. We need to go back to the policies that were working just two short years ago,” said Bartos.

Asked about the state’s energy sector, Bartos said he would be a senator who “fights for Pennsylvania’s energy industry.”

“What we’re seeing today in Ukraine and Russia is the direct result of the Biden administration’s terribly flawed, failed policies from day one to enable Russia to finish the Nord Stream pipeline that will allow Putin to ship his natural gas and resources to Germany. Tomorrow, Pennsylvania gas should be on LNG tankers on its way to ship to Europe to help America’s allies. We need to shut off all pipelines and all energy transfers outside of Russian borders and we should cut Russia off. And we should put Putin right back where he belongs, which is in his a country, a gas station with an army.”

“Pennsylvania’s natural resources are a key national security asset of the United States,” Bartos added.

Barnette would write legislation to remove the Biden administration’s restrictions on drilling and to reopen the Keystone pipeline. Having a strong domestic oil and gas production “allows us to remain strong and put a check on bullies all across the world,” she said.

Kathy Barnette talks to students after the debate.

“There’s no question we’re sitting on a Saudi Arabia of natural gas, Marcellus Shale,” said Bochetto. “Developing that and fracking is key…But what really has to happen to turn it around is to invest…get it to Philadelphia, get it to New Jersey, get it to the coastline where we can then export. And the only one meaningful way to get it there and that’s through pipelines.”

Broad and Liberty, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Keystone Free Enterprise Fund and GOP SuperPAC LV Strong sponsored the debate.

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Businessman, Veteran Dave McCormick Enters Race for GOP Senate Nomination

After weeks of warm and fuzzy introductory television ads, David McCormick made it official last week. He is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

The wealthy CEO of Bridgewater Associates, a Connecticut hedge fund, McCormick’s ads present him as a likable, regular guy.

McCormick has introduced himself to the public by mentioning his family’s Christmas tree farm in Bloomsburg and highlighting his military service. He attended West Point and served as an Army paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne in Iraq during the First Gulf War, where he received the Bronze Star.

His latest videos talk about hunting deer, bailing hay, playing football, and wrestling in high school. He also wrestled at West Point and was co-captain his senior year.

“Now I’m running to the U.S. Senate to fight the woke mob hijacking America’s future,” McCormick says in one video. “Saving the Pennsylvania we love means fighting for it. Now let’s go.”

“All Pennsylvanians are enduring the disastrous policies that Joe Biden and the Democrats have unleashed on our nation, and I cannot stand by and let it continue,” McCormick said in a press release. “As a combat veteran, I watched the Biden administration’s disastrous handling of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the way he has continued to project weakness to the world.

“At the same time, in my business career I’ve seen wokeness damage our great companies and hurt good people. Weakness and wokeness are on the march across all of society. They are threats to our country’s future and antithetical to who we are as Pennsylvanians.

“I am running for Senate to stand up to the movement of weakness. I owe all of my success to the American values I learned on my family’s farm in Bloomsburg. I know what it takes to win. I’m battle-tested, Pennsylvania true. And that’s how the people of Pennsylvania can rest assured that I will never let them down.”

After serving in the Army, McCormick earned a Ph.D. in international affairs at Princeton. He then joined and led a successful tech business in Pittsburgh before taking positions in the George W. Bush administration.

He served as U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs and also on the National Security Council and in the Department of Commerce.

He was also CEO and president of two publicly traded software companies and was a consultant at McKinsey & Co.

In addition, McCormick has been a trustee for the United Service Organizations (USO), the Alexander Hamilton Society, and Carnegie Mellon University. He and his wife, Dina, also support a “wide range” of charities, according to the campaign website.

With Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) not running for reelection, McCormick joins a crowded field of contenders in the GOP primary. Two other wealthy candidates have moved to Pennsylvania to run for the seat, Dr. Mehmet Oz and former ambassador Carla Sands. Oz, who is well-known for his television show,  jumped into the lead, according to a December poll. However, that poll also showed nearly 51 percent of voters are undecided, so the race remains fluid.

“I’m not completely convinced that Pennsylvania voters, particularly Republican voters, are going to embrace these wealthy candidates who lack a decades-long relationship to the state. Still, the ability to self-fund a race makes these candidates theoretically viable. And every new candidate in the race means that the odds of needing to get a majority of the vote to win declines,” said Berwood A. Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy and Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. “The smallest winning share of the vote in a primary for governor or Senate since 1926 was 31.2 percent in the 1994 Democratic primary. The lowest share in that time period for a Republican Senate primary was 36.4 percent in 1980 when there were eight candidates running.”

“The upshot is that a well-funded candidate may only need around a third of the primary vote to win, which improves the chances that one of these recent out-of-state candidates will win,” said Yost. “But in the end, what will probably matter most in this race is which candidate former President Donald Trump chooses to endorse.”

While Trump has not yet endorsed McCormick, bestselling author Sean Parnell endorsed his fellow veteran. Parnell, who dropped out of the Senate race due to accusations made by his estranged wife in a messy divorce case, had obtained the coveted Trump endorsement early on.

At least two of the other Republican contenders have disparaged McCormick, Oz, and Sands as outsiders. Kathy Barnette, an author and Fox News commentator who lives in Huntingdon Valley, called the three “carpetbaggers” during a recent rally for Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who is running for governor. Barnette repeated the accusation during a recent debate for Senate candidates in western Pennsylvania.

“Joe Biden phoned it in from his basement. These very wealthy people are going to phone it in from their penthouses. They have no intention of really spending time with you,” Barnette said.

Also at that debate, Montgomery County businessman Jeff Bartos quipped, “Being a lifelong Pennsylvanian is a distinguishing characteristic in this campaign for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania.”

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

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

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

Tom McGarrigle

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

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

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

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

Liz Preate Havey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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13 GOP Candidates Pack Stage in First Gubernatorial Debate

Twelve Republican men and one woman, vying to be their party’s nominee for governor, debated on a crowded stage at Dickinson College in Carlisle Wednesday evening. And as big as the debate field was, at least two other candidates didn’t attend.

It was the first chance for the baker’s dozen to make the case for their candidacy to Republican voters. Former Congressman Lou Barletta, who is leading in the polls, was a no-show. State Sen. Doug Mastriano of Franklin County is expected to formally enter the race Saturday.

The mostly collegial affair showed the contenders agree on many big issues, such as reducing taxes and regulations; embracing the state’s fossil fuel industry as a way to bring good jobs and prosperity to the state; and improving education and school choice. The exception was criticism of the two sitting lawmakers for their votes for Act 77, which allowed mail-in ballots.

When asked about people leaving the state for opportunities elsewhere, West Chester native Bill McSwain, the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for southeastern Pennsylvania, played to his strong suit: law and order.

“We can’t be competitive without public safety,” said McSwain. “Because businesses simply aren’t going to invest in high crime areas…While I was U.S. Attorney I protected the community and its businesses by putting rioters and looters and arsonists in jail two summers ago when they tried to destroy Philadelphia…I am the only candidate in this race with law enforcement experience.”

McSwain also burnished his outsider credentials.

Guy Ciarrocchi

“We are never going to have change in Pennsylvania if we have a career politician as governor,” said McSwain. “And there are a number of career politicians on this state tonight. Instead, we need an outsider. Somebody who owes nothing to the Harrisburg swamp. That is who I am. I’ve run for office before. I’m a conservative outsider. I’ve lived a life of public service as a Marine and a prosecutor. I know how to get things done…The bigger our government, the less money people have to put in their pocket.”

Former Congresswoman Melissa Hart entered the race just days before the debate. She said the state has lost people, lost congressional seats, and lost clout in Washington, D.C.

“We have a bureaucracy that cares more about their sustenance than the people of Pennsylvania’s sustenance,” said Hart, of Bradford Woods. A lawyer, she promised to work with the legislature to change that and noted she has experience in both state and federal government.

Hart also agreed the state should use its natural gas, saying its production has helped the state’s farmers.

“Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel,” she said.

Hart promised to build coalitions to get things done, saying she was elected three times to the state Senate from a district with more Democrats, as well as to Congress, with Democratic voters’ support.

“What’s important is what their real concerns are,” she said. “Education is one.”

Later in the debate, Hart mentioned women have been the slowest to return to work from pandemic shutdowns because of school closures and uncertainty.

“We need to get teachers back in the classrooms,” she said, and “prevent our children from being used as pawns.”

She called for “responsive government” and “sensible laws.”

Guy Ciarrrocchi, a Chester County resident who grew up in South Philadelphia and is on leave from his job as president and CEO of the Chester Chamber of Business and Industry, summed up the state’s current situation.

“It’s as if Harrisburg has wanted us to fail,” he said. “We have more assets than any other state, from agriculture to life sciences. We’re sitting on more energy than most nations…There is no reason we’re not a top 10 state. We should never be a bottom 10 state…We should have a simple rule: if a bill creates jobs we’re for it. If kills jobs, we kill the bill.”

Pennsylvania is “sitting on more energy than most nations on the planet,” said Ciarrocchi. “We’re duty-bound to do it. We need to get it out of the ground and into our homes and schools, not just to attract businesses but to keep the businesses we do have.”

Ciarrocchi was part of a coalition of business people, parents, and residents who fought for the Vote Yes campaign in the 2021 primary to get ballot initiatives passed.

Charlie Gerow and Dave White

“We need school choice. I am a Chamber CEO who is passionate about education. We need to reform education,” Ciarrocchi said. “Education is the most important issue. Thousands of children are waiting on lists to go to charter schools and thousands of others are stuck in failing public schools.

“We need to bring about a coalition to bring about school choice. We need to rescue those kids and empower their parents,” he said.

Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale blamed Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-majority legislature for the state’s population drain. He claimed to be the only candidate who can beat “radical liberal, Josh Shapiro,” the presumed Democratic candidate.

Gale agreed the state should use its energy resources and said tax money generated from fracking should stay in the regions where the gas is extracted and not go to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.

Gale said he is for voter identification and election reform, as well as school choice. “In my opinion, anyone that voted for the devastating Act 77 legislation should be disqualified from holding office, let alone being promoted to higher office,” said Gale. “We have to fix (the election system) and I’ll get it done.”

“I will be a pit bull in Harrisburg and hold the Republicans accountable to get the job done,” he added.

Retired business executive and author John Ventre joined in the criticism of Act 77, which was supported by two other Republicans in the race, state senators Jake Corman and Scott Martin.

Ventre criticized the politicians “who voted for Act 77 that cost the best president in my lifetime to lose Pennsylvania. There are three types of candidates: You have your politician who wants to advance himself and is an insider. You have your Romney RINO, who wants to negotiate with the left…The person that’s going to win this election is going to be a Tea Party Patriot.”

Ventre also blamed the state’s treatment of businesses for the population loss. “I want to hear a sucking sound from the northeast as jobs come to us,” the Hempfield resident said. “I want to make Pennsylvania the Texas of the northeast.”

Delaware County resident Dave White, a small business owner, and former county councilman said the state not only needs lower taxes and reduced regulation but also to shorten the time needed to get permits.

White agreed the state has a wealth of natural gas “under our feet” that should be utilized. As a former pipefitter who is now a business owner, he backs pipeline construction “as the safest way to have this product transported.”

“I will make sure we are the energy capital of the United States,” White said, noting that pipeline jobs pay $80,000, $90,000 or more.

“If you want to get things done, send somebody who is a results-oriented businessman to get things done,” said White.  “In (the legislature) they are spending other people’s money. They need to start acting like their own money.”  White promised to review regulations and departments and get rid of those that are not needed.

Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist based in Harrisburg, said that he is the one who can get things done.

“Economic competitiveness” will keep young people in Pennsylvania, he said. Gerow favors lower taxes and sensible regulation, along with “cleaning up public corruption because job creators are not coming to Pennsylvania with their opportunities if they believe they have to pay to play.”

Regarding Wolf’s handling of the pandemic, Gerow said he would model the policies of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem that put individual freedom first, rather than the “disastrous policies of Tom Wolf.”

He would also propose a ballot measure to allow the voters to “remove any governor who thinks he’s a king.”

Dr. Nche Zama, a cardiothoracic surgeon from the Poconos, said Pennsylvania’s business tax policies are “suffocating businesses,” he said.  And the state which spends “billions on education was the largest exporter of graduates. We need to embrace those graduates so they stay here.”

Zama also supports using fossil fuels, saying, “Windmills, as we know them, are not ready to run our massive industries in Pennsylvania…” European countries have recently “ratcheted up their use of coal and gas.”

As a leader in the health care industry, “I know how to bring people together. I’ve done it in healthcare. A leader is somebody who absorbs uncertainty and somebody who inspires.”

“Pennsylvania needs a leader who is a compassionate critical thinker,” said Zama. “And I can be that person.”

Jason Richey, said the Pittsburgh area has seen “dramatic losses of population over the last 50 years.” The father of three sons, he said, “I want to keep those boys here.” He proposed a plan for zero percent income tax and shrinking the cost of government.

An energy and construction lawyer, Richey said he is an expert and the state sits on “an ocean of natural gas.”

His energy plan would create 50,000 new jobs, he said, and “get the whole commonwealth working together.” That would improve the environment and improve national security, he noted. He would also get rid of Act 77 and the 50 days of mail-in ballots.

Former Corry mayor Jason Monn, who owns a restaurant, said he has kept his employees working throughout the pandemic but there are “a lot of businesses that don’t love Pennsylvania because of our taxes, because of our regulations.”

“I am a firm believer it’s the government’s job to facilitate progress, not to dictate how to do it,” said Monn.

“As a business owner, I have a lot of what politicians don’t have, that’s common sense,” said Monn. “We need to learn to take safe risks. We can do things the proper way and not be ridiculous about them.” When pipeline workers have money they can then come to places like mine. It’s a trickle-down effect.”

During the pandemic, Monn and his wife came up with a plan to give free meals to kids. With the help of others, they distributed 31,000 meals in three months.

State Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) noted the state’s “fastest-growing age demographic is 85 and above.” States like Florida and the Carolinas have “pro-growth policies” while “we have one of the most onerous regulatory and tax climates in the country.”

On the energy industry, Martin opposes Wolf’s plan to impose a “half-billion-dollar carbon tax” on the state and raise gas prices by 18 percent.

“The moment Pennsylvania decides to embrace and grow this industry, the better off we’ll be,” he said.

The state needs “courage and a bold agenda.” Martin was warned not to eliminate government agencies because he would not be elected again but he did and was reelected. The state teachers union has run ads against him, as well. If elected governor, he plans to work with the general assembly to devise a “pro-growth, pro-family” agenda.

Sen. Jake Corman

State Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) has three children who will soon make decisions about what to do with their lives and where to live.  He hopes to keep them in Pennsylvania.  But “this governor has used our tax money as a way to punish employers. I am going to use our tax code as a way to inspire growth.”

Regarding the pandemic, Corman said he worked with others in the legislature to rein in Wolf’s powers through ballot questions that voters approved, and he filed and won a case unanimously in the state Supreme Court against the Wolf administration over the ability of the state to impose mask mandates.

“Tom Wolf’s scorched earth is not the way to govern,” said Corman.

Asked about building a coalition, Corman said he is “there to get things done” and he would be a governor who can work with the legislature.

Another business owner, Shawn Berger said the state’s unemployment program is a problem.

“Get people back to work and cut unemployment,” said Berger, a Lehigh Valley businessman who owns two enterprises.

During the pandemic shutdowns “I had employees come to me in tears. I said, ‘We’re going to stay open. We’re going to make this work.” He fought the Wolf administration and kept his business open, he said.

And as a business owner, Berger said, he knows how to stay within his budget and not “overspend.”  Berger also favors the decriminalization of marijuana.

 

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Dr. Nche Zama: Turning $20 into the American Dream

For many who immigrate to this country, the American dream means one thing: The pursuit of equal opportunity to achieve their highest goals. That is true for Dr. Nche Zama, one of more than a dozen Republican candidates seeking to become Pennsylvania’s next governor.

When Zama came to the U.S., he was a teenager with nothing but $20 to his name. His father sold their family home for the money to fly his son to America so he could fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor.

“I’m a retired cardiothoracic surgeon and a scientist,” Zama told Delaware Valley Journal. “I have a Ph.D. in chemistry. I’m a published author. I live in the Poconos. I was actually born in Cameroon, Africa in a little National Geographic village. At age 10, as I stood by my 30-year-old mother as she bled to death after childbirth and there was no doctor around to save her life, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor.”

It wasn’t easy for Zama to reach the American dream. It took a lot of hard work and determination to achieve success.  He says he’s using those qualities in his race for governor.

“That journey, which was a very difficult one, took me through a secondary school where I worked hard and graduated at the top of my class,” Zama explained. “Then I came to America with $20 in my pocket with a one-way ticket for $300, which was bought by my father after he sold our hut and our land. So, things were pretty rough day and night. Suffered a lot but went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in Massachusetts, a master’s from Harvard in management, a Ph.D. in chemistry, and did my medical training to be a cardiothoracic surgeon at Harvard Medical School and surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. Then I started working.”

Most of his career has been in Pennsylvania, especially for the last 25 years. However, Zama believes his best work has been the work he’s done globally.

“What I’ve really done with my life,” Zama said, “what I think is probably more exciting than operating on thousands of people in Pennsylvania, is medical humanitarianism. Because of my mother’s death and so many others like that, I decided to travel the world and give free medical care.”

His intense passion for medicine is what drove him into politics.

“I’m running for governor because Pennsylvania is sick and it needs a doctor,” said Zama. “I want to lead the charge to fight for a better future for our children. I know a thing or two about that. I love this country. I love Pennsylvania. I love the U.S. Constitution. I think this is the greatest country in the world. But I see that our state has been moving in the wrong direction for a long time and we all know it.”

Education is at the top of Zama’s list of priorities.

“There’s a lot of important work that needs to be done. First up: our children are not getting the education they deserve and cannot survive in a competitive world. Our world is no longer provincial. It’s a global world and we must fix the curriculum power so I want to lead the charge for that. I want to lead the charge for school choice and I will continue to support funding for schools that are failing. I want to promote vocational education and make it available statewide.”

Aside from his focus on the education system, Zama wants to use his medical past experiences from his childhood to bring changes to the mental health resources available to students. In addition, he hopes to improve the way pandemics are handled in the future.

“The COVID crisis has been mismanaged,” Zama said. “There’s no doubt about it. Too many conflicting messages out there that have kept people so confused even though we know how to manage the COVID crisis. I have traveled the world and done surgery in multiple geographies and we know how to manage global disasters like this. That entire paradigm has been thrown out the door and has left people totally confused.”

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there have been 36,799 reported deaths by COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, and roughly 74 percent of its residents are fully vaccinated.

“Pennsylvania needs to address the root cause of the problems in health,” Zama said. “Most of the people dying from COVID have pre-existing problems that need to be addressed, but nobody is talking about preventive medicine or a concept I came up with a friend years ago called interceptive medicine. Nobody’s talking about what we need to do to keep ourselves healthy. To keep our immune systems robust so that we can stave off this infection or if we do contract it, we will survive it. I want to be the governor that makes Pennsylvania the healthiest state in the union. We can do it.”

Having a Ph.D. in chemistry may not afford Zama all the answers, but his global experience in healthcare leadership has given him insight into future pandemics.

“One of the first things I will establish as governor is an interceptive medicine pandemic council so that we can anticipate pandemics because there will be a next one. There are about 25 viruses waiting to enter, by the way. And so we will be facing a pandemic again in the future,” he said.

Zama believes his passion, education, and drive will pull Pennsylvania into the number one spot in America.

“The possibility of me sitting here or going to America was almost zero. Yes, I left with $20, but you’re looking at the investment of $20: a Harvard-trained heart surgeon. Nothing is impossible.”

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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.

TRACY: Why the Pennsylvania GOP Gubernatorial Primary Debate Matters

In a sense, the 2022 Pennsylvania gubernatorial race began on November 8, 2018, when Governor Tom Wolf won his second term against Scott Wagner. With Wolf term-limited, 2022 will see a new face in the Governor’s Mansion, and Republicans and Democrats have been scrambling to figure out who that should be.

Democrats, for the most part, seem to have their ducks in a row on this one. Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, has been a rising star in the Democratic party for years now, and even before he announced his bid for Governor, he had been essentially running unopposed for the nomination. Shapiro has the advantage of being able to focus entirely on the general election, but his disadvantage is that as the presumptive nominee he has had a target on his back for quite some time.

Republicans, on the other hand, have an abundance of candidates, as gubernatorial hopefuls with a wide range of ideas, philosophies, and backgrounds have thrown their hats into the ring seemingly on a weekly basis. This Wednesday, January 5, will mark the first time all those different ideas and personalities will be tried against one another in real time, as thirteen declared candidates come face-to-face on the debate stage.

Every candidate in the history of democracy would tell you why their election is one of the most important elections ever. Whether this particular election will live up to the hype remains to be seen, but Wednesday’s debate sets the scene for leadership changes that will have a drastic effect on the future of the commonwealth.

This election matters because Pennsylvania has become very used to a highly involved governor. Governor Wolf is on track to issue the most vetoes in Pennsylvania history — and he is not shy about taking executive action either. During the past seven years of Republican legislative control, Pennsylvania has been ruled by warring branches acting as jealous guardians of their power — perhaps to the delight of those worried about the tyranny of faction. But if the state house and senate stay pat, a Republican governor could change that dynamic. Wolf’s vetoes from last month alone include a curriculum transparency bill, and a concealed carry bill.

With Pennsylvania’s population declining to the point where it will lose another congressional seat, many would argue that it is time to break up the stagnation between the legislative and executive offices. A Republican could do that, but in a purple state and against a formidable opponent in Shapiro, it would need to be a Republican with a compelling message and widespread support.

This primary also matters because of the issues. Covid dominated the past election cycle, and the only difference this year is that the disease is presenting slightly different problems. Republicans are generally against mandates, but their tolerance for lockdowns and government stimulus will vary.

Energy is also a contentious topic in the state that produces the second-most gas and electricity in the nation. Huge new national gas plants should bring even more revenue in the coming years. As oil and gas businesses look for welcoming homes, Pennsylvania must decide whether this is an industry it is willing to commit to in the long term.

School choice bills have been flying around the legislature without much hope of getting past Wolf, and a new administration could mean some huge changes on the education front. But Republican plans to make a lasting impact on the Pennsylvania public school system vary dramatically from candidate to candidate, and many plans regarding school choice stray into uncharted waters.

Finally, one of the largest issues the candidates disagree on is philosophy. The old GOP that prioritizes markets and morality is still very much alive in the Keystone State. But the state, and the nation, have seen a rise in the “new right”, characterized by nationalism and populism, which brings a set of issues surrounding big tech and immigration that add a new element to the party dialogue. The philosophy that emerges victorious from the Republican primary will have united enough of the Pennsylvania right-wing in order to win, but will it be the philosophy that can unite the rest of the state?

These issues and more should be on full display on Wednesday night. The debate will take place at 7 pm at Dickinson College, moderated by former State Rep Becky Corbin, PA Chamber Director of Political Engagement Allison Coccia, and yours truly. In the interest of full disclosure, Broad + Liberty is an event sponsor and is proud to partner with the PA Chamber of Business and Industry, the Keystone Free Enterprise Fund, and ProtectPA PAC to bring this program to you.

You can watch the livestream on Wednesday, January 5th, on PCNTV. Immediately following the 7:00 debate, PCN will host a call-in program, with special guests former Congressman Ryan Costello and ColdSpark Founding Partner Mike DeVanney. Expect a clash of ideas, and a great example of the lynchpin of any good republic: civil dialogue.

This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.

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State Sen. Scott Martin Announces Run for PA Governor

State Sen. Scott Martin jumped into the crowded race for Pennsylvania governor on Saturday. After a Facebook announcement, Martin took reporters’ questions via Zoom.

Asked what “secret sauce” he brings to the race that the other candidates in the GOP primary do not the Lancaster County Republican said he has been traveling the state and talking to voters for the last six months and wants to make “life easier for every Pennsylvanian.” He added that, as a former county commissioner who reduced the county debt by $40 million and state senator with 27 bills passed into law, he knows how to “make government work.”

“As a young athlete I learned the basics, put in the work, got better, and I became a state and national wrestling champion and NCAA All-American in football,” Martin said. “As a small business owner, I’ve put in the hours and the sweat to grow a company and hire other companies – all of that work creates jobs and grows the economy. As a senator, I helped author the legislation that resulted in the constitutional amendment that helps restore the balance of power to state government.”

Elected to the state Senate in 2016, Martin chairs the Education Committee and also sits on the Appropriations, Environmental Resources & Energy, and Judiciary committees.

“One size doesn’t fit all,” Martin said about education, where he favors giving parents a choice for their children’s schooling. For higher education, Martin noted, “Pennsylvania has some of the highest costs (for college) in the country” and that results in the “highest debt” for graduates. If elected, he plans to make higher education more affordable and is also favors vocational-technical education as an alternative to a four-year degree for many students. Employers are looking for people with the types of skills taught in technical schools like Lancaster’s Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, Martin said.

And making sure the workforce has the skills employers need can “turn around the demographics” of people leaving the state to find jobs, which cost Pennsylvania a congressional seat in the last census and decreased the state’s congressional clout.

“We need these folks to stay here,” said Martin.

Asked about Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s unilateral move to take the state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a multi-state carbon-trading plan that will likely lead to higher energy costs, Martin said he would end that membership.

He pointed to Glen Younkin, the newly-elected Republican governor of Virginia, who has promised to take his state out of RGGI.  And unlike some other states involved in RGGI, Pennsylvania is “an energy powerhouse” that the PJM grid relies on, Martin noted. RGGI would decimate the energy sector causing Pennsylvania to lose those “family-sustaining” jobs to neighboring states like West Virginia, as well as residents and businesses seeing energy costs rise 18 percent, said Martin, who voted against RGGI in September.

On the campaign trail, Martin said people he has talked with are interested in local rather than national issues. They are concerned about public safety, education, and “making ends meet,” he said.

Martin pointed to his small business background, saying the state has too many regulations that make it unfriendly to start-up businesses. Martin and his wife, Amber, own Woo-Cat Management LLC, a property management company. Amber Martin is also the Lancaster County treasurer.

For example, when Martin was a county commissioner Lancaster competed and succeeded in the competition to bring in Perdue ArgiBusiness to build a $60 million soybean extraction plant. However, the Department of State “put them through eight years” of intense regulatory scrutiny that nearly cost the county that plant, he said.

He pointed to other examples of state overregulation, such as the U.S. Steel site, where that corporation canceled a $1.5 billion project in May.

The energy sector in Pennsylvania is losing out to West Virginia and the Gulf Coast, he said. Manufacturing in the state is “critically important,” as is the energy to run those factories, he said.

Asked about changes to voting in the state and Act 77, which permitted mail-in ballots, Martin said he would like to see it implemented as passed, with security provisions.

“It should be easy to vote and hard to cheat,” he said. Not fixing the election system “feeds into a lot of folks’ distrust” of it. For example, he cited different counties that used different rules during the 2020 election and the Secretary of State’s “favoritism on grants” as flaws.

Martin said the case that the U.S. Supreme Court recently heard regarding abortion will not change his stance on that issue. He remains staunchly pro-life and wrote a law to protect unborn babies with Down syndrome. And even if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, that would only send abortion regulation back to the states, he said. Martin is one of seven children and is the father of four.

With Wolf ineligible to serve a third term, the only Democrat running so far is Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

However, a plethora of Republicans is vying for the GOP nomination. They include former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain; GOP strategist Charlie Gerow; former Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry CEP Guy Ciarrocchi; Dave White, a former Delaware County councilman and business owner; former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta; Montgomery Commissioner Joe Gale; state Sen. Pro Tempore Jake Corman; Pittsburgh attorney Jason Richey; and surgeon Dr. Nche Zama. And others said to be about to take the plunge include former U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart and state Sen. Doug Mastriano.

“It is unprecedented, but not unexpected,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy and Center for Opinion Research at Franklin & Marshall College. Yost predicted the free-for-all in his May newsletter.

“These open seats are the best ways for ambitious politicians to take the next steps in their political careers,” he said.

“It is really difficult to characterize anyone’s chances in such a crowded contest,” said Yost.  “The more people who run the smaller the share of the vote that is needed to win, so unless someone with overwhelming name recognition and fundraising advantages enters the race I wouldn’t be surprised by any outcome.”

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