An end of an era in the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
On Monday afternoon, Bob Asher sent out an email to Republican state committee members announcing his decision to not seek another term as Republican National Committeeman. He was unanimously re-elected along with Christine Toretti in May 2016 and has filled the role since 1998.
“Despite overwhelming support from all parts of Pennsylvania I have decided for the sake of party unity and the reelection of Donald Trump as President that I am no longer seeking the position of National Committeeman from Pennsylvania,” Asher wrote in an email.
Asher appeared to have a fight on his hands over the past several months for another term. Rumors first surfaced in November when PoliticsPA reported that former state Senator and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner was considering a run for the position. Asher and Wagner traded jabs over this possible showdown.
In recent months Andy Reilly, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Republican Party and former Delaware County Republican Party Chair, campaigned for the role. It became clear that he had momentum in the insider battle.
In a May 27 email to state committee members, PAGOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas announced a “unity resolution” between Asher and Reilly that was set to be voted upon at the July 10th summer meeting. Tabas said Asher and Reilly agreed to split the four-year term of RNC Committeeman by electing Asher for a term ending at the close of business of the 2021 PAGOP Winter meeting and elect Reilly for a term commencing at the close of business of the PAGOP 2021 Winter meeting and continuing the remainder of the four-year term. The Philadelphia Inquirer documented some of the intraparty squabble in a story on June 12.
Asher seemingly disagreed with parts of the resolution that Tabas sold as a done deal, by saying the agreement would “create too much confusion.” He ruled out other work-arounds, too.
“In the latest announcement it was stated I agreed to allow Andy Reilly to be elected at the July 10, 2020 meeting and he would name me his proxy through February 2021,” Asher wrote in the email on Monday afternoon. “This is something I would not agree to as this would create too much confusion and too many questions about the process.”
Asher acknowledged some of the infighting in the email and said that the infighting “must end immediately.”
“Over the last several months you have been contacted by many Republicans concerning the Pennsylvania National Committeeman position,” Asher writes to begin the email. “There have been numerous letters, phone calls and now even press articles about this race.”
“This infighting must end immediately,” he continues.
Reilly responded in an email to PoliticsPA late Monday night standing by the previous agreement if he is to be elected as committeeman.
“After hearing from Chairman Tabas and a Representative of Bob Asher’s camp agreeing to the Unity Resolution, I made a commitment that if elected I would offer Bob Asher a proxy to permit him to serve for 5 additional months per his request,” Reilly wrote to PoliticsPA. “I made that commitment and if I am fortunate enough to be elected National Committeeman, I will honor it.”
Asher, who also serves as Co-Finance Chair of Pennsylvania for President Trump, described the jockeying for the position as a distraction to securing victory for Trump in the Keystone State once again in 2020 and promised to stay committed to helping Republicans win office in the upcoming election.
“I am here to serve, I am a soldier and I am unwavering in my commitment to the Grand Old Party,” Asher, 83, wrote towards the end of the email. “May God bless you and your family. My sincere thanks for all you do to support the Pennsylvania Republican Party.”
Reilly currently appears to be the lone person seeking the position.
Tabas did not immediately respond to comment.
Asher served as Chairman of the PAGOP for three years in the 1980s. During that time, he worked with State Treasurer Budd Dwyer to steer a $6 million state contract through a no-bid contract in exchange for a cash payment of $300,000. Asher was sentenced to a year in federal prison. Dwyer famously committed suicide at a press conference.
Asher and his family lead the Montgomery County-based Asher Chocolate Co.