Hershey — The Pa. Democratic state committee overwhelmingly endorsed Philadelphia judge Joe Waters for Pa. Superior Court at their winter meeting Saturday.
Waters easily overcame Allegheny County attorney Michael Wojcik and the party’s two-thirds threshold on the first ballot, 199 votes to 62.
“I’ve won a couple times and I’ve won and I’ve lost and winning is definitely better,” he said. “I want to thank Mike Wojcik. He put in a strong campaign.”
“We’re going to go from here, now into November and what we’re going to do is bang them to death, all right. I can beat the Republicans, Vic Stabile is their candidate, he got the endorsement this morning too, he’s going to be somebody we can take on and we can win.”
Wojick, who announced his bid just days before the meeting, said he’s still running.
“You know I came in here 4 days ago in this campaign and I got 18 counties to come my way in this endorsement process. Yes I am still a candidate for Superior Court. I’m running, I’m excited,” he said. “This is something that I want to do and I think I can win the nomination in May, I think I’m the strongest candidate we have on the Democratic side and I can beat whoever comes out of their primary.”
For all the rigorous parliamentary legwork, the Dem state committee endorsement doesn’t actually carry much weight in the primary. In the past 12 years, only about 50% of endorsed candidates have gone on to win the nomination.
Following Rep. Allyson Schwartz’s big 2014 push, other prospective candidates for Governor made the rounds on Saturday.
Several people in or close to former Auditor General Jack Wagner’s circle began circulating the idea that he would jump in.
Former Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf reiterated that he’s planning to run.
“Financially, if that’s something that we can do I’m going to move forward,” he said, noting that he would have run in 2010 if not for his need to focus on his business.
But he said he could see himself supporting another candidate too, if he or she had a strong shot at beating Corbett.
“I’m looking to advance progressive policies and move this state in the right direction, whether that’s me or someone else. If that’s someone else that’s fine. If it can be me, we just need to start moving in the right direction. Pennsylvania needs a leader, not a student council president like the current Governor.”
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, a member of state committee, was also in Hershey. He’s floated his name as a possible candidate – and would have $189K to spend, as reported by Emily Opilo of the Morning Call. But he didn’t make any news Saturday.
“I think it’s gonna be an interesting gubernatorial race, we have some really great candidates it’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out over the next couple months,” he said.
“I think there’s room for everybody. I’m focused on running for mayor right now, that is my goal, I’m running for my third term right now, seems like I’m unopposed, that is my primary focus at this particular time.”
Kathy Dahlkemper continued to work the committee. She apparently told several committee members, “I’m running for Governor,” though she told PoliticsPA she was still exploring.
Sen. Mike Stack (D-Phila) was also on hand.
Lieutenant Governor chatter
Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski was on hand all weekend working the committee members, and his buttons grew more commonplace – including UFCW 1776 President Wendell Young IV and a dozen county chairs.
State Rep. Brandon Neumann (D-Washington) confirmed that he is running for Lieutenant Governor. At the Hershey Lodge, he handed out personalized chocolates from Sarris Candies, which is based in Washington County.
Some committee members called the chocolates a rookie mistake given the venue; others noted that Hersheys produces much of its chocolate in Mexico and Neumann was representing his home county.
Former Congressman Tim Holden (D-Schuylkill) was also on hand all weekend and a few people close to him said he was looking at an LG bid. He firmly denied it, insisting he only wanted to thank supporters at the meeting. But he rumor was that former Gov. Ed Rendell tried to recruit him to run last year. And after all, he was at state committee.
Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith is also apparently circulating his name for a run.
Committee members debated and ultimately passed a resolution in support of President Obama’s gun control measures.
It had wide support, endangered only during a brief spat over whether to include a call for “mandatory national registration of gun ownership.” Ultimately the language was removed from the resolution.
“We need to clarify in the resolution to make clear that we won’t affect the ability of hunters to… do their deer and whatever they need,” said Dauphin County Democratic chair Marilyn Levin.
The party once again stifled in committee a resolution calling for a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus shale region.
In the special election for Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s former state House seat, the party officially nominated Kevin Schreiber. DePasquale and York Mayor Kim Bracey had cleared the field for Schreiber, 32, and his nomination for the May 21st special was never in doubt.
Pa. Young Dems party
Finally, the consistent leaders in state committee entertainment had their event shut down Friday night by hotel security.
The Pa. Young Democrats had gathered in a room for an informal party that was apparently too fun. The hotel shut it down around 11:30pm. There was not a specific incident cited. Rather it appeared to be a matter of general rowdiness.
By all accounts, the event was less rambunctious than normal PAYD functions. Several people on site said that a disgraced former PAYD member had sabotaged the event by making several frivolous complaints to the Hershey Lodge.