Monday, February 18, 2008

Berks GOP endorsements have familiar ring

The Berks County Republican Committee held its annual candidate endorsement convention over the weekend.

Party honchos didn't exactly go out on any limbs in picking 2008 candidates to support. The party likes to stick with incumbent elected officials and has an annoying habit of not endorsing in most contested primary races.

I guess party officials don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or end up with egg on their face by backing the wrong candidate.

Saturday's gathering featured U.S. Congressman Jim Gerlach, who is seeking a fourth term in the 6th Congressional District, part of which is in Berks County. Also attending was Toni Gilhooley, who is the GOP sacrificial lamb in the 17th Congressional District, where Rep. Tim Holden is seeking a ninth term.

Attorney General Tom Corbett couldn't make the meeting, so he sent one of his deputies, Ron Stanko, who also happens to be the former GOP chairman in Berks, to speak on his behalf.

Tom Ellis from neighboring Montgomery County attended the Berks gathering to seek support for his bid for state treasurer.

Chet Beiler from Lancaster County wants to be the next Auditor General and spoke to his Berks neighbors about his plans for the office.

Things got a little more interesting when the GOP committee members heard candidates for Legislative races.

There are four Berks legislative districts with primary election contests:

House 124th – Dave Argall, John Schichram

House 125th – Gary Hornberger, James P. McGovern

House 130th – Aaron Durso, Richard Gokey, Billy Reed

House 187th – Gary Day, Allen Cerullo

State Sen. Jim Rhoads, R-29th Dist., and state Rep. Sam Rohrer, R-128th Dist., attended Saturday's gathering to get the party's support. Neither lawmaker is facing a primary challenger on April 22.

Candidates running for legislative seats held by Democrats also got a chance to speak to the party faithful.

Aaron Durso and Richard Gokey are two of the three Republicans seeking the nomination for the 130th House District held by Democrat David Kessler. The third Republican, Billy A. Reed, who is on the outs with the party establishment, didn't bother attending the convention.

Gary Day, who is seeking the GOP nomination for the 187th House Dist., and John Schichram, who is running against Rep. Dave Argall in the 124th House Dist., also attended. Argall was a no-show.

The Berks GOP committee endorsed all unopposed candidates for Congress, statewide and legislative positions. In addition to the speakers at the convention, the endorsed candidates included Congressman Charlie Dent, R-15th Dist., Congressman Joe Pitts, R-16th Dist., Steve Fuhs, who wants to unseat state Sen. Michael A. O'Pake in the 11th Senate Dist., Rep. Jim Cox, 129th Dist., and Rep. Doug Reichley, 134th Dist.

The only "real endorsements" made Saturday were for Rep. Dave Argall, R-124th Dist., and Gary Day, candidate for 187th House Dist.

The committee did not vote on an endorsement for the president of the United States. This is a cautious bunch in Berks. They're not ready to jump on that John McCain bandwagon just yet.

1 comment:

John said...

Well, you need to know the party rules.
First, there is a tremendous prejudice against endorsements in the Berks County party. some of us who come from areas with overweening party bosses and structures are in no hurry to return.
Second, as a concession to the pro-endorsement folks, rules have been negotiated that permit endorsements in races in districts that cross county lines (so as not to place a Berks County primary candidate at a competitive disadvantage vis a vis primary opponents from counties that have a more robust endorsement process.
Third, the anti-endorsement forces routinely do not object when a motion is made to suspend the rules to permit endorsements in unopposed races (in the past, candidates pitched a fit when they couldn't even get an endorsement in a race where they were unopposed).

On the other hand, if the party apparachiks had had their way, Brightbill would have won the endorsement over Folmer. Instead, Brightbill came in seeking to stagemanage the endorsement here similarly to the endorsements in Dauphin and Lebanon and was sent packing with a boot to the rear. It was the Berks County greeting.

I was the one that offered the motion for "no endorsement" in the presidential race. Many conservatives are still very uncomfortable with McCain and sending Arlen Specter and tom Ridge to do the "sales job" at state committee did not do anything to assuage our fears.