Speaker Sam Smith (R-Jefferson) sent a farewell shot across the bow at his conservative foe, Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania.
Smith announced his retirement last week, and CAP Executive Director Leo Knepper suggested to several news outlets that it was because he was about to face a competitive primary.
His 2012 opponent Cris Dush entered the Republican primary this year, and Smith narrowly beat him two years ago when there was another Republican in the race as well.
“Let me be very clear and set the record straight. ln 2012 l admittedly took my challenge less than seriously and barely ran a campaign. To be frank, I won without really trying,” Smith’s letter reads. “Unfortunately for your “organization” in the build up to this year’s election, I was committed to not making that mistake again.”
Knepper isn’t buying it.
“He’s saying that his retirement has absolutely nothing to do with any outside pressure that he’s receiving and then he goes on a three page missive attacking our organization? I don’t quite think that’s the whole story,” Knepper told PoliticsPA.
CAP has encouraged anti-establishment, conservative purists against incumbent Republicans before and regularly engages in marketing efforts to blast incumbents for votes with which they disagree.
Smith, on the other hand, had a reputation for being a more moderate, compromising Republican while he was the Speaker of the House.
“l’ll leave you with two pieces of advice not from me but from two fathers of modern conservatism. William Buckley once said, “idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, its costs become prohibitive.” Barry Goldwater said “We don’t gain anything when you get rnad at a candidate because you don’t agree with his every philosophy.”’ Smith writes. “Perhaps you should think about those two and stop dividing the GOP and start going after the people who disagree with our agenda, the Democrats.”
Unsurprisingly, Knepper disagrees with this point as well.
“[He says] we should be going after Democrats rather than Republicans, and that’s an absurd argument,” Knepper argues. “When you look at the expansions of government that have taken place, they’ve been with Republicans leading the charge or aiding and abetting someone like Ed Rendell.”