Kathy Barnette for U.S. Senate!

Allow me the extravagance of offering you suggestions for the upcoming Pennsylvania Republican Primary. The most important choices to be made this year are for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Pat Toomey and endorsements for the PA Governors race. Personally, I feel much stronger about our choice for the Senate race, so I’ll address that here.

First off, I have a real problem with carpetbagging politicians. “Carpetbagging” in the sense of those who relocate purely for the political opportunities they see versus an actual desire to live in – and fight for – a particular constituency. For this reason, I will never support Mehmet Oz or Dave McCormick.

Oz lived in Northern New Jersey; McCormick in Connecticut UNTIL Pat Toomey announced his desire to leave the U.S. Senate! Both moves were obviously made in attempts to maximize personal political power, where both men KNEW they could not win such exalted positions with the slate of current Senators in New Jersey and Connecticut!

Carpetbaggers, crooks of Reconstruction in the South

Kathy Barnette, on the other hand, is not only a political neophyte but also a military veteran. She has corporate financial experience and served for years on the Board for a pregnancy crises center. She is an author, writing “Nothing to Lose; Everything to Lose: Being Black and Conservative in America”.

She’s a huge fan of Conservative mainstay, Newt Gingrich, and a frequent guest on Fox News, even demonstrating self-defense techniques for women and children, another issue of which she is passionate.

Barnette with her today, Newt Gingrich

Kathy’s Day One focus includes objectives I personally feel strongly about … Protecting individual freedoms, Peace through Strength, Energy Independence, Healthcare autonomy, and – if you consider the shaky status of world food supplies – American Agriculture.

From a purely political perspective, I cannot ignore or over-estimate the prospects of a younger, dynamic, black American woman’s ability to draw members of her social demographic away from the crazed, whacked out direction the Democrat Party has taken in recent years!

Fortunately, that is the very least of Kathy Barnette’s qualifications and capabilities for representing the People of Pennsylvania in the United States Senate!

Drivers, start your Engines!

PA 13th Congressional District

PA 13th Congressional District

Tomorrow night I hope to attend the campaign announcement of yet another candidate for Pennsylvania Congressional Representative Allyson Schwartz‘s (PA 13th Congressional District) vacated seat this November.

Her name is Beverly Plosa-Bowser.  If I told you I knew of her before receiving a mailed invite to her campaign announcement just this morning, I would be lying.

(UPDATE:  This head cold is probably going to prevent me from attending tonight.  Pretty sure I’m not going to feel up to it by the time I get out of work.)

The 13th District seat has been an impossible nut for Republicans to crack, having held the seat for all of 4 years since 1993.  Normally, one would surmise that Schwartz’s absence (and with it her substantial war chest and her take-no-prisoners politics) would make this row a bit easier to hoe.  But with a huge chunk of the district residing in ultra-liberal Philadelphia and plain old liberal eastern Montgomery County, I wouldn’t be caught counting any chickens.

Plosa-Bowser will surely have a great deal of company on the Republican side in challenging whoever the Democrats put up from their own crowded field of candidates.  Besides former 13th District Rep Marjorie Margolies (D), state Rep. Brendan Boyle of Northeast Philly; state Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County; and Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have a lll thrown their headgear into the ring.

On the Republican side, joining Plosa-Bowser, is Dee Adcock who lost to Schwartz handily (like a lot of Republicans have) in 2010.  Personally, I am hoping Joe Rooney is willing to take another run at the 13th, but I have not found any indication that he is running in 2014.

Plosa-Bowers’ bio shows her to be a local product.  Her father was an assistant principle at Hatboro-Horsham High School; her mother a nurse.

She was one of the first women admitted to the Air Force Academy.  She served for over 30 years in the U.S. Air Force and USAF Reserve, rising to the rank of Colonel.  Plosa-Bowser served in Iraq, building a Security Cooperation relationship with Iraqi officials.

She retired from the Air Force in 2010 after being awarded the Bronze Star for her efforts in Iraq.

As always I am hoping for sanity to return to the 13th Congressional District in the form of sound Republican guidance in public sector economics, the national economy, and matters of National Security.  But in any case, the race is on and it oughta be a darn good one!

Montgomery County Republicans: Healing acts, and a recipe for Success

PA State Rep Mike Vereb

PA State Rep Mike Vereb

On a cold night in early December the Montgomery County (PA) Republican Committee took another big step towards dumping a decade of internal discord by the side of the road.  The rifts that seemed insurmountable only a few months ago, have been bridged and will finally begin to fade from memory.  The Party can push on to a brighter future.

And no peeking backwards is allowed …

As new Co-Chair of the MCRC Finance Committee, Bob Asher stated during October’s MCRC love fest, ” … we can’t have any more rearview mirrors on the bus.”  Asher, along with his Co-Chair compadre, Vahan Gureghian will form a solid backbone for future Republican success in Montgomery County.

The struggles that have faced the Montgomery County GOP in recent years have been expensive, costing opportunities for leadership of County Government; control of County Row Offices; and a growing disadvantage to Democrat registration numbers.  In addition, the infighting has cost the County GOP dearly in unity and focus.

Then suddenly the skies cleared; the feud was over!

In the days leading up to the annual MCRC dinner in October, that would feature an appearance by Governor Tom Corbett, the leaders of the Montgomery County Republican Committee put differences aside to form a much stronger alliance, and created a powerful mechanism for promoting Republican ideals that have made Montgomery County among the choicest counties in which to live.

Finance Co-Chairs Vahan Gureghian and Bob Asher with Governor Corbett

Finance Co-Chairs Vahan Gureghian and Bob Asher with Governor Corbett

Then out of the blue MCRC Chairman Robert Kerns submitted his sudden resignation leaving the County GOP leaderless at a crucial time, a crisis that threatened to undo all the progress the Party had recently made.

And into the breach stepped Pennsylvania State Representative Mike Vereb!

Vereb has served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since 2007, and has run successfully for re-election in 2008, ’10 and ’12.  Previous to his successful run for the PA State House, he worked in the West Conshohocken Police Department and served as President of the West Norriton (PA) Board of Commissioners.

Now, I haven’t been much of a regular attendee at the Montgomery County Republican Committee events despite my membership as a Horsham Republican committeeman.  High-powered politics is not my forté.  I prefer to observe, comment (Hence the blog!) and support in whatever way I can those whose values and policies I agree with.

Those who stumble from time-to-time on this tiny slice of the internet super-megatropolis may be familiar with some of my more pointed rants and ravings when it comes to issues like wayward Liberal logic or deception, poor leadership, and – more recently – the dangerous tendency by my political party when it comes to marginalizing its moderate wing of thought.

If it comes to this, so be it!

If it comes to this, so be it!

That last point is one that’s been weighing on my mind for quite some time.  For me, the issue illustrates just how willing the GOP is – on both regional and national levels – to take seriously the depth and breadth of viewpoints existing within those who labor for the ideals the Party represents.

It has been a discouraging to hear constantly that only Big C Conservatives speak truly to the important issues of the day.  That, if you do not share their vision, you are not pure somehow as a Republican.  That only those who hold tight to the hard Right vision are worthy of expressing their views.

Worse from my point-of-view, it’s really very, very bad politics, particularly in a region where so many Moderates live, work and raise families.  And when it comes to Electoral Math, it certainly does not improve the chances of success Nationally.

It was with this mindset I resisted the idea of attending Mr. Vereb’s unchallenged rise to the MCRC Chairmanship.  That was until he made a somewhat personal appeal that I attend such an important event. (OK … It was simply a personal Facebook plea, but nonetheless …)

So on a chilly night in early December I schlepped out to the Westover Country Club to see what would happen for myself.  I wanted to HEAR the message that would come from the prospective Chairman.

I was quite pleasantly surprised!

Chairman Vereb recognized that the Party had become complacent, living off past victories, and not consistently or effectively communicating its message.  It’s a message that should ring loudly for many, including our Democrat neighbors, who have chosen Montgomery County as the place to live for its good schools, safe communities and low taxes.

The message to be stressed is that these things do not occur by accident.  That such development was the result of excellent leadership, sound policies, and effective management.  That throughout the County these successes resulted from decades of Republican stewardship.

The strategy worked quite well for Horsham Republicans on Election Day 2013.

imagesThe message should be a tone-setter for all efforts to promote Republican leadership, the foundation for MCRC efforts to win elections in those areas where the Party’s leadership has a demonstrated record of Success.

At this point of Vereb’s speech, I still wasn’t really totally listening.  It was what Mike said next grabbed me and convinced me the County GOP is headed towards much, much better days!

” … the best interests of our party must always come before personal agendas. … we must be inclusive and welcoming not only of different ideas about how to effectively promote our party and its candidates, but as to what the practical policy goals of our party must be.”

Music to my ears … But the best what yet to come.

“No political party ever expanded its base by requiring unquestioned adherence to a single ideology or perspective. … We are residents of a diverse county in one of the most diverse states in our nation …”

A lesson with which those at the highest reaches of the Grand Old Party will someday have to come to grips.  To win elections – and with that the opportunity to lead, to shape, to find success – the Republican Party has to maximize its philosophical reach to those of moderate economic and social viewpoints.

“Demanding uniformity from our fellow Republicans will only invite electoral losses and policy disasters.  However, by accepting reasonable differences of opinion we will be better positioned to achieve our overall goal of electing Republicans who will make sure government operates efficiently, effectively and is responsive to the interests of hard-working taxpayers.”

Now, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure whether Vereb was speaking of outside political fortunes or the exorcism of past Committee sectarian conflict, but I chose to interpret his message on the broader political stage.

The simple fact is that Republicans can not be politically successful in the four suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia without embracing some moderate social and economic views.  So the MCRC must find a way to accommodate such thinking in concert with traditional Big C Conservative ideals.

A challenging task?  Certainly … But Mike Vereb’s take on diversity, inclusiveness, and Republicans of all stripe working together to extol the civil virtues of Republican leadership to voting taxpayers, who enjoy living in Montgomery County, sure sounds like a recipe for Success!

Joe Rooney for Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District

If you are a Republican living in the Pennsylvania 13th Congressional District***and have been waiting for a fiscally conservative candidate to mount a serious challenge to the liberal Allyson Schwartz, this could be your year.  Joe Rooney, a former U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot, is the lone candidate seeking to take on Schwartz this November.  His message of fiscal responsibility and American optimism will play well from Northeast Philly to Lansdale and King of Prussia.

As background, I went to my first Congressional meet ‘n greet in 2010 as a member of the Horsham Republican Committee (HRC).  That year the MontCo and Philly GOP organizations entertained a slate of four or five candidates running to oppose Ms. Schwartz, a popular and well-financed liberal Democrat Congresswoman.  I remember a long, long evening of seemingly endless, rambling monologues that failed to connect, let alone inspire.  I knew that night Schwartz would have little trouble winning re-election.

But at this year’s meet ‘n greet Joe Rooney turned out to be a pleasant, refreshing surprise for the 2012 election cycle.  His background, leadership, and values will play well to both moderates and conservatives concerned about the economic future of the country.  His home page offers a hint to Mr. Rooney’s motivation in representing the people of the 13th:

“America is the most powerful nation in the world.  However, we are in danger of damaging the future of this great nation by blatantly ignoring the ongoing fiscal crisis.”

It’s a message with which any hard-working head-of-household, retiree, unemployed worker or mortgage holder can empathize.  National fiscal health results in a robust economy that begets more job opportunities, better wages and a safe, secure path into the future.  And Rooney’s background is indicative of strong leadership that makes tough decisions and possesses the strength and commitment to see them through.

Joe served for twenty-three years as Marine Corps pilot of F-4 Phantoms and the F-18 Hornets, retiring as a Lt. Colonel.  And as good a pilot as he was, Beth – his wife of  25 years – was one of the Navy’s first female pilots and just the second woman to graduate from the prestigious US Navy Test Pilot School!

In person, Joe Rooney is a direct, no-nonsense speaker with a genuine populist message.  I found Joe to be personable, intelligent, and focused on the message he believes is important both to the people of Pennsylvania and to America’s future.  He is also well aware of the difficulties he faces in trying to unseat a popular Congressional Democrat with a huge campaign war chest. 

Joe Rooney is an American Optimist. 

 “The American economy can be the engine that drives the rest of the world out of the economic hole that currently exists.”   –  Joe Rooney

When Joe addressed our group, he referred to the view of America as that “Shining City on a Hill” – made popular by President Ronald Reagan – that portrays America as a land for Hope, Progress and Leadership.  The above quote illustrates his view that America can lead the global economy to recovery so long as we can get our own fiscal house in order.   

The Rooney’s live in Ardsley, PA and have five children, including a daughter currently serving in the US Navy aboard the USS KLAKRING and a son attending the US Air Force Academy, studying to become a fighter pilot.  Joe, who graduated from Bishop McDevitt High School, flies and captains B737s for Delta Airlines.

The biggest obstacle to a successful run by Joe Rooney in the PA 13th is FINANCIAL!  Allyson Schwartz is a deeply rooted, popular liberal Congresswoman, with a staggering financial advantage.  So please take a good look at Joe Rooney’s message and consider contributing to – or volunteering for –  the Joe Rooney for Congress campaign!

***  Important Note:  The judicial decision that threw a wrench into Pennsylvania’s attempt to redraw state legislative voting districts DOES NOT affect the redistricting of national Congressional Districts.  So the redrawn boundaries for the 13th Congressional District will be used for the 2012 primary and general elections.  Click the link to see if your vote will be included in the new PA 13th.

A heaping bag of Disappointment

Watching what unfolded last night for the Montgomery County (PA) GOP was akin to suffering through a replay of Monday night’s woeful performance by the Philadelphia Eagles against those Chicago Bears.  Just like those inconsistent Birds, the impression I have is one of a team that was thoroughly outplayed by an opponent that simply “wanted it” much, much more.

Not that it was entirely a lost night.  Rumor had it (unconfirmed) that both Hatboro and Plymouth Meeting councils were won back by Republican leadership.  Our local Horsham Township Council candidates, Greg Nesbitt and Mark McCouch handily won their matchup as rightfully expected.  Eileen Behr, a superb candidate for MontCo Sheriff, and Stewart Greenleaf, Jr. – for Controller – were successful in their bids.  But aside from these and Nancy Becker’s victory for Recorder of Deeds, the overall contest – much like the Eagles-Bears game – was not nearly as close a performance as the final score might lead one to believe.  

Many good GOP candidates went down with the ship.   

Now, I have no claim to any formal political training, inside Montgomery County Republican Committee or Brown-Castor strategizing, or even a smidgen of political play-making capability.  In continuing with the Eagles analogy, I’m either the center spending half the game looking upside down with his head between his legs, or I’m the rookie guard – a la Danny Watkins – too caught up just trying to get the rudimentary footwork down to fully appreciate the more complicated levels of high stakes political gamesmanship.  I just know I’m laying here flat on my back with a bunch of cleat marks up the front of my jersey wondering what-the-sack happened to the game plan!

So take these personal impressions with that perspective in mind …

1.  Although I travel regularly through limited areas of eastern Montgomery County, there were certain locales – specifically Huntingdon Valley, Rockledge, and Abington – where little evidence in the way of Brown-Castor presence could be found.  Every day for the past two months commuting back and forth from work, I saw a plethora a Shapiro-Richards signage in these areas.  The Brown-Castor presence didn’t just fall short; it was completely absent aside from sporadic household displays.  In fact, of the several attempts of my own to populate Abington with GOP signage, some were met with REMOVAL of the signs from public grounds.  So despite my belief that the powers-to-be had a handle on this important election, I had a gnawing feeling in my gut that things were amiss!  

One of my posts from several weeks ago, dealt with the offensive sight of hundreds of Shapiro-Richards signs quite literally LITTERING huge stretches of Cheltenham Avenue and Rt. 422.  It was obviously an organized bit of intense labor.  And although I harbor no desire to see ANY campaign trashing neighborhoods and highways in this manner, one has to wonder where the GOP response was?  (Caveat: I have not been on either road since making that post, so maybe there was a response.) 

2.  Shapiro-Richards played the negative and dirty games better.  From their TV ad portraying Brown-Castor as The Bickersons (The Negative) to drawing the downright hypocritical connect-the-dots picture of Jenny Brown as a Tea Party candidate (The Dirty since Josh Shapiro also met with and could therefore be portrayed as Tea Party-sympathetic.), the Democrats had no problem wading into the muck that played to those tired of Commissioners’ bickering and to their anti-Tea Party core.  (I won’t even go into the fact that Shapiro-Richards won on what was a very Tea Party-like platform of limited spending and no tax increases.  Oops .. maybe I will mention it.)  I saw little pushback – aside from Castor’s complaining of the Tea Party hypocrisy – from the Republican side. 

So why was so little made out of Richards’ Whitemarsh stewardship of an 8-fold increase in township debt (from $1.8 to $15 million)?!?  Could more have been made of the contradiction between the fiscal promises made by the Democrats as opposed to their actual records on the same subjects??  (The numbers to watch here are $435 million, the current MontCo debt hole.  With Richards record of debt accumulation, I predict this hole will grow to $3.5 million by Fiscal Year 2015!)

3.  Much theorizing went into the role of “Obama Democrats” in their county registration advantage.  Theories suggesting that those Democrats were only motivated by President Obama’s historic run to The White House … that many of them would not return in force for a relatively lower-key local race.  Low turnout – it was suggested – would be a boon for Republican hopefuls.  We certainly had low turnout in my township (roughly 28-30%).  Heck, my polling place didn’t even have a Democrat committee presence until dinner time!  Obviously, the Democrats out-performed Republicans in getting out their voters in Democrat-heavy areas.  The GOP? Not so much.

That’s enough Wednesday-morning quarterbacking for me.  When you lose, it’s either a failure in strategy/leadership or one of performance.  So the questions beg …

  • Was it long-simmering Castor-itis come home to roost?
  • Was the Republican electorate too complacent, disinterested, unmotivated?
  • Was the overall economic-political disgust a factor in keeping Republicans and like-minded independents home?
  • What can be done to counter the increase in Democrat registrations fleeing Philadelphia?
  • Why was there so little evidence of GOP feet-on-the-ground in locales I travelled through near the city?
  • To what extent are these problems rooted in the GOP Leadership in those communities and – perhaps – the County as well?   

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned …  Had an adverse reaction Monday to “Stop the Tea Party. Stop Jenny Brown” lawn signs I saw that morning while driving to work.  The reaction centered around the hypocrisy of a Shapiro campaign making hay from a meeting that duplicated HIS OWN inclination to drink the TEA!  Amazingly the signs had disappeared by the time I had driven pass them on the way home that night. 

I just really hate losing … especially when I know I’m right.

Important election day for Montgomery County (PA)

This Tuesday, November 8 Montgomery County (PA) voters will face crucial decisions on the future health and welfare of the County in an election that will address the makeup of County leadership and management of 11 row offices. 

In the headline contest Republican candidates Jenny Brown and Bruce Castor faceoff against Democrats Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards for control of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.  On election day, voters will cast ballots for TWO preferred commissioners.  The top three vote-getters will assume seats on the Commissioners Board, thus ensuring one minority representative will serve with two from the majority party.   

As background, the 2007 election for the County Commissioners Board was waylaid by the duplicitous Republican-elect Jim Matthews, when he worked a backroom, split-management deal with Democrat minority member, Joe Hoeffel.  Matthews’ low-handed dealings betrayed the wishes of the County’s electorate – a vote that demanded a Republican-controlled Commissioners Board – by essentially handing de facto control to Hoeffel.  Matthews’ behavior left him isolated from his own party and dependent on Hoeffel’s concurrence to get anything accomplished.  Democrat Hoeffel had unprecedented control – for a minority party board member – over patronage, contracts and budget decisions.

The issue of who was really in charge of the Montgomery County Board over the past term is an important distinction, because as of February 2011, the County possessed a $435 MILLION bonded debt obligation.  This is a RECORD HIGH for Montgomery County!  The County budget for Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) is already $25 million short in projected revenues!  And in September the County’s Treasurer, Tom Ellis reported that the County’s Financial Health Index (the ratio between cash reserves and debt service) projects to 0.63-to-1 for FY12, where a ratio of 2-1 would be considered “unhealthy”. 

The solution posed by current Democrat County Controller Diane Morgan to improve the County financial picture by pursuing fraud, waste and duplication is not a strategy that instills much confidence when looking at a $435 million hole.  

As Whitemarsh Supervisor, Leslie Richards oversaw an amazing 8-fold increase in township debt – from $1.8 million to $15.0 million!  So one can assume that a Shapiro-Richards-controlled Commissioners Board could very well continue a budget philosophy of spend-spend-spend, despite their pronouncements in favor of a “zero-based budgeting” approach to County finances.  Josh Shapiro already has a record of raising taxes; and his solution for fixing the traffic problems on Rt 422 is to leverage funding from the State and Federal Government. 

My understanding of leveraging includes the promise of putting up substantial funds (more borrowing!) to demonstrate a financial commitment which is then used to elicit funding from other sources, in this case the State and federal government.  More fiscal insanity is not the response taxpayers want!

The solution favored by the Brown-Castor team is to slash expenditures while in the pursuit of gambling income from the new Valley Forge Convention Center casino development.  This has the potential for being a tax-neutral solution, assuming the County can successfully reverse a state law that prevents direct Montgomery County control over its share of casino proceeds, a flawed – and unfair – state law fully supported by Shapiro in his duties as a State Representative.  Instead the Pennsylvania Financing Authority controls MontCo’s funds from gambling revenue, the funds limited to use in treating sites with environmental contamination in preparation for future business redevelopment.  Bucks County – on the other hand – enjoys direct and complete control over its portion of revenue from the Parx casino because somehow that casino is licensed under a different classification than the proposed Valley Forge development.  (Confusing? Yes.)

It’s not difficult to recognize which debt solution makes the most sense in these troubling economic times or which team is best positioned to pursue it.    

Both Jenny Brown and Bruce Castor have well-respected records as government leaders.  Brown has served as Commissioner in Lower Merion Township since 2005.  Castor, after a successful term as Montgomery County District Attorney, was elected to the Montgomery County Commission in 2007. 

For these reasons, the right votes are for Jenny Brown and Bruce Castor for Montgomery County Commissioners!


On the subject of Row Office candidates, I have provided my impressions on several occasions.

I have been much impressed by several of the female row office and judicial candidates, particularly Eileen Behr for Sheriff, Maureen Coggins for Judge on the Court of Common Pleas,  and of course Risa Vetri Ferman, who is running for re-election after a superb term as Montgomery County’s District Attorney. 

Another strong Republican contender is William “Bill” Donnelly for Prothonotary (Clerk of the Court for Common Pleas), who led a modernization effort during a previous term, achieving recognition as one of the most efficient such offices in the country. 

Normally, I’m one to loath suggesting that anyone pull the straight party lever when they enter the voting booth.  But frankly, I cannot find a single candidate on the Montgomery County Republican ballot that I will not support with my own vote!

Whatever your voting inclinations, DO NOT forsake this opportunity to set the course for Montgomery County’s future!  Get out and vote!

Rainy days and primaries always get me down

As Karen Carpenter once sang,

Sometimes I’d like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin’ around, nothing to do but frown

Honest, I really did have to look that up!  It’s bad enough that I still remember the song.

But it sums up nicely what yesterday was like.  Primary Day in Montgomery County was dull, slow, wet, long, and dull.  That is until the evening voter rush hit, when it was even duller still if that’s possible.   

It is what it is.

What it was, was a Primary Day completing lacking in any headline-grabbing fights for Party endorsements, save a semi-interesting two-way battle for the County GOP nod in the County Sheriff’s race (Congrats to winning nominee, Eileen Whalon Behr!)  and a few skirmishes for judgeship nominations.  Other than that, it was about as interesting as a night at your daughter’s dance recital.  (C’mon … Admit it!)

You know you’re in for a long day when you remind neighbors the night before ” … to vote tomorrow!”, and they scrunch up their noses and say, “What’s tomorrow?!?” 

Oh, boy …  

Heck, not even a single Democrat poll worker/watcher bothered to show up at our polling place!

With over 800 registered voters in our district, well less than 100 turned out to vote.  But that’s what happens when rainy days and low-profile primaries converge.  

Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain in November for a race that will decide Montgomery (PA) County leadership for the next four years!

‘Cause if it does, there will be …

No need to talk it out
We know what it’s all about
Hangin’ around, nothing to do but frown

Montgomery County (PA) Republican Committee endorsement night

Last night I attended the MCRC endorsement meeting for candidates running for county offices and for new and retained judges.  I serve as a Committee Member in Horsham Township (Area 11).  This was my first foray into the party endorsement process for endorsing nominees to run in a general election.  I was very interested in participating in the process and witnessing how a local party organization went about selecting endorsed candidates.

I was curious to see how open the process was; how objective the process would be; and to what extent back-room power politics might be involved.  I came away pleased in the way The Party went about this process, attempting to ensure a ticket that would win in November that would promote a management philosophy for Montgomery County reflective of Republican principles.  Endorsements do not preclude an unsuccessful party nominee from running as an independent, so the Party attempts to preserve unity behind the ticket by working to ensure a fair and impartial process.

Of course the big fight was for the head of the ticket, consisting of two Party candidates for the three seats on the county’s Board of Commissioners.  (Each party nominates two candidates.  But only the three top vote-getters are seated, ensuring one minority representative.  Please see another post on this blog for some well-publicized history on the soap opera-like relationship of the outgoing Board.)  The Montgomery County Democrats have nominated – unopposed – the up-and-coming State Representative Josh Shapiro and Leslie Richards, a Whitemarsh supervisor.  Given Shapiro’s pull with Democrats, this should prove to be a hotly contested race this year.  The county GOP has lost its long-held advantage in voter registration.

The candidates for the two commissioner endorsements were current Commissioner Bruce L. Castor, Jr., Lower Merion Commissioner Jenny Brown, and State Representative Kate Harper.  Candidates Marie N. Cavanaugh and Jill Govberg withdrew their nominations after poor showings in a poll of county GOP leaders.

The crowd was huge, as was witnessed by the almost impossible task of finding parking if you got there after 6:30 for the beginning of festivities at 8:00 PM at Westover Country Club in West Norriton.  Of roughly 850 committee people eligible to vote on endorsements, over 500 were present.  With 234 proxy votes (Each committee member can vote for one other signed-over committee member proxy.) the number of potential ballots exceeded 700.  A truly impressive number!

There are rules by which any candidate must receive a majority of ballots cast to obtain a party nomination.  If additional ballots are necessary, there are also rules by which candidates must receive a minimum percentage of ballots cast to move on to subsequent rounds.  There were at least two rounds of balloting last night. But only Register of Wills required the second ballot.  Voting was done by anonymous ballot, using the same voting machines we see at our local polling places every Election Day.

After the usual political pep talk, provided by recently renewed County GOP Chair, Bob Kerns, only the remaining candidates for Commissioner were permitted roughly 2 minutes to make their final case.  This was – quite frankly – wholly unnecessary, since committee members have been bombarded with mailings and phone calls seeking support.  And given the crucial nature of the endorsements being sought for Commissioner, it was unlikely that a significant number of voting members did not have their candidate homework finished or their minds made up before entering the venue. 

On the first ballot, Bruce Castor and Jenny Brown won the party endorsements for Commissioner, with Brown leading the way as top vote-getter.  The race between Castor and Kate Harper was close, but not close enough to force a second round of balloting for endorsement.

There were a number of unopposed nominations for county row offices, including District Attorney (Risa Ventri Fermin), Coroner (Dr. Gordon Clement), Prothonotary (Bill Donnelly), Recorder of Deeds (Nancy Becker), Controller (Stewart J. Greenleaf Jr.), and Clerk of Courts (Moon Ahn). In addition to the candidates for Commissioner, the positions of Sheriff (Winner – Eileen Behr), Register of Wills (Patricia Mosesso) and Treasurer (H. Charles Wilson III) were contested endorsements.  Several sitting judges, Thomas Branca and Arthur Tilson, were nominated for 10-year retentions.  And two candidates for open judgeships (Maureen Coggins and Daniel Clifford) were endorsed, with several candidates withdrawing their nominations at the meeting.  Three candidates vying for the two judicial endorsements.  (Maureen Coggins really wowed me when she addressed Area 11 committee members in January!)

As for my own preferences, I was pleased with how closely my votes reflected the will of the collective committee.  I backed winners for all but Register of Wills (I voted for Valerie Harris.) and one of the judge positions (Backing Mr Sheierson – whose name I indubitably just butchered – in lieu of Dan Clifford).  I even had the winner in the mild upset victory of Chuck Wilson for Treasurer over party leadership-backed Martin Dyas.  I was much more impressed with Mr. Wilson’s background than that of Mr. Dyas when both addressed the Area 11 committee members during a January candidates meet ‘n greet.  

In the end, I was quite impressed, not only with the superb group of candidates the committee endorsed but also with the openness of the process.  At no time was there any attempts to pressure the committee members into rubber-stamping any pre-selected slate of favorites.  (A suggestion from my local committee chairman, sure.  But I went off the reservation for several positions.  And voted for the candidates I had decided on prior to last night.)

Certainly there must have been some horse-trading in the pre-meeting nuptials between Castor and Brown; but given the critical importance of this year’s election, one can accept the candidates’ efforts to develop the pairing most likely to succeed in November.

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.