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Breaking: Former PA Dem Chairman Rooney Campaigning for Chesco Republican

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Former Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney is campaigning today, but not for a candidate you’d expect.

Yesterday and today, Chester County Democrats received a last-minute mail piece and robocall featuring Rooney, who encouraged them to vote for Ann Marie Wheatcraft in today’s primary.

There’s only one problem: Wheatcraft is a Republican.

“This is former Pennsylvania Democratic Party chairman T.J. Rooney,” he said in a recording of the call obtained by PoliticsPA. “I’m calling to urge you to vote for Ann Marie Wheatcraft for Judge on Tuesday, May 17th. As a life-long Democrat and Governor Ed Rendell’s chairman and elected Democrats to office, I believe that judicial candidates should be elected on qualifications, not political party, so I’m supporting Ann Marie Wheatcraft.”

“As a prosecutor, former mental health and drug counselor and community activist, she has what it takes to be a fair and balanced judge the Chester county residents deserve. Please vote for Ann Marie Wheatcraft for Judge in the Democratic primary on Tuesday May 17th. Thanks very much.”

Local Democrats are angry with Rooney.

“I think it’s a disgrace that TJ has endorsed a Republican against two endorsed Democrats in a Democratic primary,” Chester County Chairwoman Michele Vaughn said emphatically.

“Chairs across Pennsylvania should be aware, and they should respond. I will certainly be bringing this up at state committee.”

Vaughn said that Wheatcraft was by no means a consensus candidate, and that she received some unfavorable ratings from the Chester County Bar Association.

Wheatcraft also sent a mail piece featuring Rooney, below. The back of the piece listed her professional acumen as well as a list of eight union endorsements.

The Chester County Democratic Committee has endorsed Fredda Lewis Maddox and Etha McDowell for the two open seats on the Chester Court of Common Pleas. As is common is PA judicial primaries, Wheatcraft cross-filed and is hoping to secure her election by earning both nominations.

Rooney chaired the PA Democratic Party from 2003 to 2010. He served in the PA State House from 1993 to 2006. Early this year, he co-founded a political consulting firm. The 46 year-old Lehigh Valley resident is one of former Governor Ed Rendell’s political allies.

Rooney declined to comment.

Meghan Schiller contributed to this report.

One Response

  1. I think it is a disgrace that Michelle Vaughn couldn’t find two qualified candidates for the Dems to run. One of the candidates has never practiced law in Chester County (Maddox) and the other one has never set foot in a courtroom or really even practiced (McDowell.)

    Maybe some political chairs can put aside partisan politics when their only choice are unqualified candidates who would sit on the bench for 10 years.

    Don’t be surprised if the Dems try to dump one of their candidates before the general (probably McDowell) and replace her with someone qualified. How can Vaughn justify that after telling everyone how great her endorsed candidates are?

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