Thursday, September 20, 2007

Reformer to challenge Lancaster County payjacker Gib Armstrong

The Lancaster New Era newspaper is reporting that Lancaster County Recorder of Deeds Steve McDonald will challenge longtime incumbent state Sen. Gibson Armstrong in the 2008 Republican primary.

"You have to fight the status quo and the establishment that keeps people like Gib Armstrong in power," McDonald told the newspaper. "I'm going to stand with regular citizens of the district and fight that."

Armstrong, who has represented the 13th Senatorial District since 1985, voted for the July 2005 legislative pay raise and took the money as "unvouchered expenses," a practice later ruled unconstitutional by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

This will be the first time Armstrong faces Lancaster County voters since the pay raise vote because only half the members of the Senate face re-election in even-numbered years.

In 2006, five members of the 50-seat chamber were either forced into retirement or voted out of office. (Fifty members of the state House were also replaced by voters. Most of them voted themselves a pay raise.)

Many Senate payjackers, Armstrong included, did not have to face the voters and are counting on voters having short memories about the 2 a.m. raid on the state treasury. But their turn is coming in 2008.

McDonald, who has served as Lancaster County's recorder of deeds since 1998, has launched a Web site, where he makes the following pledge: "No perks. No Pension. No Pay Raise."

"As your State Senator, public service comes first," McDonald says on the Web site.

That's a refreshing message Lancaster County voters should embrace, especially after 22 years of self-serving actions by Gibson.

It's an uphill battle to oust an incumbent, but it can be done. Look no further than neighboring Lebanon and Berks counties, where incumbent Sen. David "Chip" Brightbill was defeated in the 2006 GOP primary by reformer Mike Folmer.

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