Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Matthews-Castor wedding is on!

It may be a shotgun wedding, but the nuptials are on.

In a joint statement issued minutes ago, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. and incumbent Montgomery County Commissioner James R. Matthews announced they will run as a team for county commissioner in the May 15 Republican primary.

"We thank the many party leaders who helped bring us together, and we look forward to a spirited campaign in the fall," the statement said. "We will have more to say about our unified ticket in the coming days."

Castor's hand-picked running mate, former state Rep. Melissa Murphy Weber, officially withdrew from the race today. Matthews' hand-picked running mate, incumbent Commissioner Thomas J. Ellis, withdrew his name from the race on Tuesday. (The other two Republicans, Kate Harper and Jill Govberg, also dropped out today.)

That leaves Castor and Matthews, who don't really like each other, to run as a team and attempt to keep Republican control of the three-member Board of Commissioners.

Castor and Matthews were scheduled to hold a press conference this afternoon, but they postponed the media event. Too bad. The first question that Castor will have to answer is why he changed his mind about teaming with Matthews.

Castor said as recently as Monday he could not run with Matthews because Castor felt he would be tainted by the lobbying contract that Matthews and Ellis awarded to a firm connected to Montgomery County GOP Chairman Ken Davis.

Davis' firm has received about $300,000 in taxpayer dollars over the past four years to lobby on behalf of the county.

I'd also like to know what Matthews had to promise to get Castor to run with him. Castor didn't need Matthews on the ticket. He's a proven vote-getter and could have carried the ticket with anyone else. Matthews needed Castor on the team to have any chance of keeping the Republican majority on the commissioners' board.

I'm not sure if you can read anything into this, but the header on the press release issued Wednesday says it's from the Matthews-Castor '07 campaign.

Murphy Weber does get a consolation prize for her brief entry into the race. She will serve as one of the "Honorary Chairs" of the Castor-Matthews campaign.

The Democratic candidates for county commissioner are incumbent Commissioner Ruth Damsker (the proverbial third wheel in county government) and perennial candidate Joe Hoeffel, who has to run for political office at least once a year.

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