By Alex Roarty
Longtime Armstrong County Democrat Chuck Pascal said Thursday he’s not backing down from plans to run for chairman of the state Democratic Party despite likely opposition from some of the party’s most powerful leaders.
Pascal faces Montgomery County Chairman Marcel Groen and Allegheny County Chairman Jim Burn, the early favorite, in a battle that pits him against two of the party’s most prominent officials. He might also face a challenge from incumbent chairman T.J. Rooney, who, in the wake of Dan Onorato’s decision to stay out of the election, could be receiving pressure from Governor Ed Rendell stay in the job through the election.
But the former state committee member said their involvement doesn’t deter him because Democrats from across the state, not just the largest areas, pick the new chairman.
Pascal cast himself as the grassroots alternative who nonetheless can still navigate political waters at the highest level.
“I think I have a good relationship with both the progressive side of the party and the establishment side of the party,” the Democrat said. “State committee chairmanships shouldn’t always be decided by the decisions of the few largest counties and or their leaders. “I think the state committee should choose its chair.”
Pascal wants to capitalize on the resentment some members feel about not having a bigger voice in major decisions, he said.
“Voices of the rest of the state aren’t often heard,” said the former local elected official. “We need to make sure that state committee needs to become more open to listening. State committee members don’t really feel they have a voice or a role there. That’s a frustration among most state committee people.”
The Democratic state committee will select its new chairman next weekend at its summer meeting.