Hershey — Rob McCord stood above the rest Saturday as he took significantly more state committee votes than any of his primary competitors.
But after a pitched fight to force an endorsement vote and a full candidate’s forum last night, the State Treasurer fell short of the 50% mark on the final ballot but doubled his nearest opponents vote total.
McCord took 154 votes on the second ballot to Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz’s 77, businessman Tom Wolf’s 59, former DEP Sec. John Hanger’s 16 and former DEP Sec. Katie McGinty’s 15.
It was a slight boost from the first ballot when McCord took 146, Schwartz 75, Wolf 52, Hanger 22, McGinty 19, and Lebanon County Commission Jo Ellen Litz 0. Cumberland County pastor Max Myers’s name was not submitted for a vote.
McCord got the most votes in every region of the state except Philadelphia, which strongly backed Schwartz.
The scuttlebutt was that Schwartz and others, fearing McCord’s popularity among state committee members, wanted to avoid the vote entirely.
Chairman Jim Burn called all 7 candidates into a meeting on Friday night to tell them that he did not want the party to make an endorsement.
All the candidates agreed – except McCord, whose longstanding state committee relationships put him in the best position to win the most votes (if not an endorsement).
But even before Burn’s edict, as McCord headed into the meeting, he was told at the door that advisor John Lisko was not allowed in; candidates only.
On entering, McCord noticed Schwartz adviser Jonathan Saidel was also present. Saidel ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2010 and remains very popular among committee members. Angry that he’s been made to keep Lisko out of the room, McCord insisted Saidel leave, too, in a tense confrontation.
On Saturday morning, as candidates circled between regional caucus meetings, McCord went to the Philadelphia caucus. Leaders in Philly had been campaigning in favor of the effort to prevent a vote that would benefit McCord.
An angry D.A. Jones, an ally of Saidel, upbraided McCord as he went to leave the room, telling him that he owed Saidel an apology. McCord wrapped his arm around Jones and said he didn’t owe Saidel an apology. Saidel, standing a few feet away, told McCord to “get the f*ck out of here” according to Capitolwire’s Kevin Zwick. A member of Wolf’s staff had to stand in between Saidel and McCord to separate them.
On the floor Saturday, there was debate over whether to vote on an endorsement, how many times to vote on an endorsement and how to present the votes for an endorsement and after all that, the result was lackluster: there would be no Democratic endorsement for governor this year.
But ultimately no candidate reached the two-thirds vote required for an endorsement.
Though McCord won *48% of the vote, immediately following the meeting his campaign sent out a statement saying that he had won a “majority” of the votes.
Nonetheless McCord characterized the vote as a victory.
“My prediction is that no one will break 50% on May 20th either,” he quipped.
The Corbett campaign wasted no time hitting the Democrats for failing to endorse a candidate in their 7-way primary.
“There is no surprise the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee chose to support ‘none of the above’ over the seven unimpressive candidates running on an agenda that’s too extreme for Pennsylvania,” Corbett campaign manager Mike Barley said in a statement.
*Article initially said 49%