Dispatch from the 2016 GOP Winter Meeting
“Our No.1 priority this year is to re-elect people,” Chairman Gleason declared. “Hillary Clinton can not win the presidency without Pennsylvania.”
While most of the talk was about local races, the presidential race was always looming.
Among the attendees some wore stickers for Marco Rubio and John Kasich while others carried signs for Donald Trump.
A number of GOP officials addressed the party members.
Congressman Tim Murphy began by speaking passionately about addressing the issue of mental illness in America.
State Senator Scott Wagner followed with a status update on the legislative elections.
“We’re up against the Democrat[ic] machine and all their union money,” Sen. Wagner stated. “So we’ll need to raise $5 million.”
“We have the worst job creator enemy in this country who sits in the Oval Office,” Wagner asserted. “This is the do or die moment for America.”
The State Senator also denounced Governor Wolf and the recent budget actions.
“We had him down on the floor with our foot on his throat and we let him up. Next time, we won’t let him up.”
Wagner also called for re-electing Pat Toomey and blasted Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty (he neglected to mention John Fetterman).
House Speaker Mike Turzai earned a round of applause for his handling of the budget stalemate, specifically rejecting any tax increases. Pointing out former Lt. Gov Jim Cawley in the crowd, he praised former Gov. Corbett for overseeing four straight years of a budget on time with no tax increases.
“This Governor wants to create havoc and run a permanent campaign,” the Speaker contended.
He also stated that Wolf signed about 90% of the GOP’s budget and declared that the Governor doesn’t care about PA citizens who are struggling.
Afterwards, the regional chairs gave reports from their meetings, the highlight of which was when the Southwest Chair Mike Baker twirled a Terrible Towel for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are playing in the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs tomorrow.
Finally, the party members voted on whether to endorse any statewide candidates.
State Sen. John Rafferty unanimously won the endorsement in the Attorney General race by voice vote. The same honor was given to Auditor General candidate John Brown and State Treasurer hopeful Otto Voit.
“We’re going to once again return the office of Attorney General back to the bright star of our commonwealth,” Rafferty stated.
He also pledged to not seek higher office while Attorney General if he is elected.
Otto Voit also questioned Gov. Wolf’s business acumen, comparing him unfavorably to Scott Wagner.
“Governor Wolf is not a businessman, Senator Wagner is a businessman. There is a difference between being a businessman and being a man who has a business,” Voit said of Wolf.