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.