Montgomery County (PA) Republican politics

(Well, after trying to impress upon myself the need to build blog content in a regular, timely manner, I have already missed my schedule.  But frankly, I did not particularly like the appearance of what I had working, so maybe it’s best.)

Instead I’ll talk about one of my favorite topics … politics.  In this case, a look at our township Republican Committee meeting last night that allowed candidates for GOP endorsement to Montgomery County (PA) offices to address those local committee members who will decide the party’s November ticket.

If you’re from Montgomery County, you may or may not know the following:

  • MontCo is the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania
  • MontCo had been – in decades past – solidly Republican.  Essentially, if you could make it onto the county Republican ticket, you were a shoe-in.  Not so any longer.  Now Democrats outnumber Republicans in the County, and this years election looks to be a tough contest.
  • Tom Corbett, who won the Pennsylvania Governorship last November, took almost every county in PA.  But he did not carry MontCo! 

Now, if you’re not from MontCo, you may be interested to learn that one of the outgoing County Commissioners is James Matthews, brother of MSNBC Hardball host – Chris Matthews.  I used to like Chris until he started sounding so shrill, and especially after his on-air I-got-a-thrill-up-my-leg bit when candidate Barack Obama made a speech during the 2008 Democratic primary.  Of course he wasn’t the only media type to suffer ThrillUptheLeg-itis that campaign season, but I digress.

Long, long story short … His brother, Jim was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2000, ran an unsuccessful campaign for Lt. Governor with former Pittsburgh Steeler, Lynn Swann.  He was re-elected to the Board in 2007, running with a reluctant ally in Bruce Castor.  But although BOTH Castor (#1 in balloting) and Matthews (#3) won seats on the Board (3 total), Matthews decided to strike a deal with the minority member of the Board, Democrat Joe Hoeffel!  This effectively froze Bruce Castor out of the County management process; and essentially handed the keys over to Hoeffel and the Democrats.  There is no greater betrayal – in my opinion – than an elected official pointedly, deliberately frustrating the intentions of the voters who put them in office! 

Fortunately, Matthews has been forced to see the writing on the wall.  And since he had no chance to capture a county GOP nod, he is not seeking re-election … not that he had much of a choice.

Anyways … to last night’s meeting …

The County will elect the following offices in November: Commissioners (3 … Dems and Reps run two-to-a-slate. Three top vote getter are in.  So you end up with two majority Commissioners and one minority Commissioner.), District Attorney*, Recorder of Deeds*, Prothonotary*, Coroner*, Controller*, Register of Wills, Sheriff, Treasurer, and Judges (2 this year).  The * offices have only one candidate running unopposed for the GOP nod.

Of those who appeared last night, I was most impressed with Bruce Castor, who really has his pulse on the County and seems itching to work on the Board with a willing and loyal fellow Republican so they can actually get things done RIGHT.  I also liked both Jill Govberg and Kate Harper.  But I’m told Kate does not play well with others in the Party.  Jill bothered me with lack of detail in a question I asked her on “misguided policies” she would change and her obfuscating answer on supporting the ticket if she does not get the nod.  Jenny Brown could not make the event for good local (Lower Merion) political reasons.  Disappointing … but I plan to call her as she was highly touted by several people.

As for the other contested nominations, I really enjoyed the appearances and off-the-cuff remarks of Valerie Harris and Denise Marshall for Register of Wills.  Eileen Behr – for Sheriff – is an interesting success story as the Chief of Police in Whitemarsh Township.  Chuck Wilson struck me as more qualified for Treasurer.  And I was truly impressed with Maureen Coggins for one of the Judge nominations, although all four candidates there seemed extremely qualified.

Even with all the people who spoke last night, it was not all that painful.  Last year, when the Horsham Republican Committee hosted candidates for the Pennsylvania 13th Congressional District opposing Allyson Schwartz, we only had 4-5 speakers.  But by the time night was FINALLY over, I felt like I ahd been waterboarded.  I knew then we had absolutely no chance beating Schwartz.  Last night was very, very different! 

The MontCo GOP caucus is February 9.  Being my first time as part of this process, I’m interested in seeing how this plays out.

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