A Couple of Political Points of Interest . . .

I found a couple of interesting political notes in the last couple of days . . .

On the Republican side:  Phoenixville Councilman Ken Buckwalter (R) who is running in the Pennsylvania State House 157 primary race, has received an endorsement from longtime friend Ed Shanaughy.  You may not know Ed personally but I bet that you know his restaurant – Our Deli in Paoli (with the large steer out front).  Ed served as president of Paoli Fire Company for 35 years, recently stepping down (John Beatty is now president) to become the fire company’s Chairman of the Board.  As a Director of Paoli Business and Professional Association, Ed serves with me on the Board as Director Emeritus.  

Both Ken and Ed are local small business owners and have known each other for 30 years; in fact Ken attributes some of his early success with Buckwalter Framing to Ed’s support.  Ken Buckwalter stated in his press release,

To have his [Ed Shanaughy] endorsement is gratifying.  I had stated at the candidate interviews in early February that I live in one major end of the district and have done business for many years in the other.  I am well-known throughout, and my public service is largely without controversy.”

On the Democrat side:  I found this next political tidbit an interesting sidebar on the local Pennsylvania Senate primary race,  Senator Arlen Specter (D) vs. Congressman Joe Sestak (D).  Yesterday in a press release, Specter claimed that Sestak does not pay all his campaign staffers a living wage, or even the minimum wage, unless they are a member of his family.  Specter’s report shows Sestak employees receiving what appears to be far less than the minimum wage.  The response from Sestak’s camp is that those are all part-time employees who split their time; people who work 10 percent of their time for the campaign. 

In a second press release today, Specter called for Sestak to clarify the reports, or turn himself into the authorities for violating minimum wage law requirements. Sestak’s email response to Specter’s latest pronouncement,

“It’s a shame with the enormous challenges facing our country that Senator Specter is spending his time working on this, rather than focusing on getting our economy in shape or reforming our healthcare system. This kind of petty diversion and focus on personal attacks is why so many people hate Washington-style politics.”

Rep. Jim Gerlach Will Seek Re-Election to the 6th District . . . Where Does the News Leave Steve Welch (R) and Doug Pike (D)?

I guess by now most of you have heard that Rep Jim Gerlach will seek a fifth House term for the 6th Congressional District– having made this decision a day after he dropped out of the race for Pennsylvania governor. Gerlach made the decision to forgo his gubernatorial bid and stand for reelection to the House. When he withdrew from the Governor’s race, Gerlach explained that he did not think that the $1 million that he had raised was not enough to compete in “today’s media-driven campaigns” for a statewide election.

Gerlach had announced his gubernatorial bid last July. This recent decision to seek a fifth term in the House would seem to create an unsettling effect on the competitive 6th Congressional District contest. The local GOP had recruited Steve Welch, a local businessman and entrepreneur and he has raised $600,000 for his campaign. Former Philadelphia Inquirer editorial writer Doug Pike is the Democrat opponent for the congressional race; Pike has collected in excess of $1.1 million for his campaign.

Gerlach cannot transfer the $1 million that he raised for the governor’s race into his congressional race. Talk about a campaign bookkeeping nightmare . . . he must return the governor’s race money to his donors and then ask these people to redirect their contributions to his reelection to the House campaign. It is reported that Gerlach had less than $35,000 in his congressional account as of September 30. I assumed that he could just take the $1 million and be set for the congressional race – I was wrong, so guess he is going to be quite busy trying to turn this ship around and redirect it.

This news had me wondering how the other 6th Congressional District candidates were feeling, in partuclar frontrunners Steve Welch (R) and Doug Pike (D). Welch’s campaign website attempts to show support for Gerlach’s 6th District reelection decision, however it was also very clear that he intends to stay the course with his own campaign and remain in the race. Gerlach’s decision to seek reelection however did cause two other GOP candidates to close down their campaigns. Scott Zelov, Lower Merion Township Commission and former 6th District GOP candidate is returning his campaign contributions and giving support to Gerlach. Likewise, former 6th District GOP candidate Howard Cohen has decided to close his campaign and has signed on to the Gerlach reelection campaign.

So how does frontrunner Democrat Doug Pike feel . . . a few days ago Pike was probably feeling rather confident, especially considering that he was handily out-fundraising opponent Steve Welch? However, now Pike finds himself opposing Jim Gerlach, an incumbent with 4 terms behind him. But hearing the Gerlach decision, Pike remains committed in his own bid for the 6th District seat and his campaign will continues. Pike will face Reading doctor Manan Trivedi and Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon in the Democratic primary.

My guess is that it has not been a good couple of days for either Pike or Welch!

Just in . . . Gerlach Withdraws from Governor’s Race

Did you hear that Republican US Rep Jim Gerlach is withdrawing from the PA governor’s race?

In a statement, Rep Gerlach, said “I entered the race for governor in order to continue my public service, put forth new ideas for creating jobs, protecting our taxpayers, families and seniors, and reinvigorating the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania that we all love so much.”

In leaving the governor’s race, Rep Gerlach did not say immediately whether he would now be a candidate for re-election as congressman from the 6th US House District. When he decided to run for governor, he originally said that he would give up that job he has held for 7 years.

Although Rep Gerlach had successfully raised over $1 million to date, he did not think he had enough campaign cash to continue. His feeling was that a successful primary would cost at least $4 million! Rep Gerlach figured that he had 2 choices – (1) he could spent all his time fundraising over the next 4 months until the primary or (2) withdraw from the race and work even harder for the people of his district.

I’m still stuck on the $4 million estimated price tag for a primary governor’s race in Pennsylvania . . . wow!