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BREAKING: SD-10: Democratic Heavyweights Lean on Cickay to Drop Out

Cickay Naughton
Naughton and Cickay

A surprising and intriguing development has occurred in the race for Pennsylvania State Senate seat in the 10th district.

In the wake of what has been perceived to be a poor performance so far by Democratic nominee Steve Cickay, a number of prominent Democrats have urged him to step aside. They would rather another Democrat take on Republican incumbent State Sen. Chuck McIlhinney.

The Democrat they want is former PA-8 congressional candidate Shaughnessy Naughton.

According to party insiders, among those that have called on Naughton to step in and replace Cickay include former Governor Ed Rendell, Senator Bob Casey, Gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf and FreshStartPA chair Katie McGinty.

Cickay’s detractors point to his poor fundraising performance. According to James McGinnis of the Intelligencer, Cickay raised only $6,490 compared to McIlhinney’s $112,895.

Furthermore, when the Senate Democrats polled the race they found McIlhinney holding a 50% to 34% lead over Cickay.

Naughton, meanwhile, ran a very competitive race against DCCC-backed Kevin Strouse in the PA-8 congressional primary. The first-time candidate fell just about 800 votes short of the upset and may have an unusual advantage if Cickay were to step aside.

The 10th State Senate district is comprised of central and eastern Bucks County, areas where Naughton performed well in her primary with Strouse.

As a result, Naughton would have a larger advantage than a typical candidate who entered the race just four months out. Many of these voters will have seen her and may well have voted for her (albeit in another race) just a few months before. This is because a congressional contest, especially a close one, draws much more attention than an uncontested State Senate primary.

Nevertheless Cickay seems content to stay in the race.

“I start something, I finish it,” he told the Inquirer’s Chris Palmer. “I feel an obligation to these people that voted for me. . . . I feel I owe it to them to finish.”

40 Responses

  1. Sean, Since when is taking away the freedom of the vote acceptable to anybody living in our democracy? The only numbers that count are the ones at the close of the polls on election day. 12,292 voted for Steve Cickay in the primary, where he was officially declared the Democratic Nominee for the State Senate, 10th District. Since when do people who are elected by voters outside of State Senate Senate District 10 deciding who represents the people living in District 10 on the ballot in November or in Harrisburg? It has been 120 years since a Democrat was elected to the State Senate in District 10. Politics as usual is not working, now is definitely the time for a fresh start with the Unstoppable Steve Cickay, the people’s choice for State Senate.

  2. Alright “Sean Ryan” we get that you don’t think Steve can win I am sure you were probably either Naughton’s campaign manager or a staffer

  3. I was really sorry to see this story Steve is a really good guy and has worked really hard to win the 10th. However I do understand the preference for Shaughnessy Naughton. She proved herself to be a very strong candidate. She did very well electorally in the 10th area in the primary and was a very adept fundraiser

  4. When Senator Mike Folmer upset Chip Brightbill in the 48th two terms ago, all of a sudden the Dems now had a chance and the only Dem, John Liss, who bothered to challenge Brightbill was now not good enough. He too, was cajoled to drop out for a better candidate and he refused. Well in the end Liss lost to Folmer. John Liss may have dropped out before filing if unamed better candidates would have had the courage to file in the primary, but not after he made the honest effort. So why do the Dems repeat recent history?

  5. Wendy, You are a prime example of why Dems will never win this seat.

    There are way more than 12,000 residents in the 10th District. There are 259,178 according to the 2010 census.
    McIlhinney by 32

  6. The time to vet candidates for an election is PRIOR to the deadline to file nomination petitions, not after a candidate was able to collect the mandatory number of supporter signatures, not after the county democratic committee met, voted upon and endorsed the candidate, not after a primary where 12,292 supporters came out to vote for the candidate. ( let the record show Naughton only had 7,414 votes in the same district).

    Not after the candidate was declared the WINNER of the primary election.

    The residents of the 10th State Senate District voiced their vote, Steve Cickay is the official State Senate Candidate.

    If Tom Wolf, candidate for Governor wants a Fresh Start, he’s got one with Steve Cickay, he like Wolf is not your typical candidate. Cickay wants to represent his friends and neighbors of the 10th State Senate District and help make a positive difference in their lives,community and the state of PA.

    Anyone who is concerned about “winning” this election, should step up to the plate to donate, volunteer and provide the resources to achieve the goal and stop the attempt to disenfranchise the votes of 12,292 residents of the 10th State Senate District.

  7. Steve Cickay has zero name ID.
    He has zero money to improve his name ID.
    He has no campaign structure set up that can win a race as large as a senate district.
    And lastly, he is left of left which does not translate to the vast majority of voters in Bucks county, let alone the 10th Senate District.

    McIlhinney has Name ID.
    Has plenty of funding.
    Has a proven campaign team that has won this contested seat twice. Including the wave election of 2006.

    Primaries do not dictategeneral election success. Dem turnout was higher than the republican turnout for the entire county because there was no contested primary of significance. There fore the Republican gotv effort was nil whereas the dems had a full court press by two congressional campaigns.

  8. I find it “politics as usual” that the party is pressuring Cickay to step aside. Cickay has a real chance, that’s why, and it not only scares the GOP, but scares the Dems, as Cickay is the real deal, a non-politician who seeks to serve to make things better and not simply to say one thing, do very little and pad his bank account in the process. Stick to your values Steve, and see it through. We progressives believe in you!

  9. Wendy-
    Well said.

    While I think Dems should be working hard for every seat, they shouldn’t disrespect the guy who put his name on the ballot and won the primary.

    It’s okay to ask/suggest if he’d like to step aside, but not to chastise him for sticking with his campaign.

    If they are concerned about his funding deficit, they can write a check for $100,000 and level the playing field.

    If Naughton was interested in the PA senate, she could have run for it and the congressional race at the same time (which is not atypical move in PA).

  10. When the Democrats were seeking at candidate for the 10th Senate District Seat, Steve Cickay was the only resident that volunteered to seek the nomination. Cickay did not get on the ballot all by himself, it required getting the support and signatures of over 500 democrats that LIVE in the 10th Senate District. Mission Accomplished. Cickay also got the blessing and endorsement from the Bucks County Democratic Committee prior to the Primary. Furthermore Steve won the Democratic Party Nomination in the Primary, in fact he had more residents in the 10th Senate District cast votes in his favor than the Republican Incumbent and as well as MORE votes than the Endorsed Democratic Congressional Candidate who went on to lost the primary. Last time I checked, being independently wealthy was not a requirement to run for public office. The only POLL that counts is the one where the people who LIVE in the PA 10th Senate District cast their vote for who THEY wish to have represent THEM on the ballot in November. 12,292 VOTES/people nominated Steve Cickay to represent THEM and their party in the General Election in November. If you care about the outcome of the 10th State Senate District race, then I suggest you get to work volunteering to help Steve Cickay WIN rather than waste funds, time and talent attempting to disenfranchise the votes of the 12,292 people who live and voted for Cickay in the 10th State Senate district primary. Let the record also show please that the Bucks County Democratic Committee By Laws state:
    Section L. Every committeeperson and every member and officer of the County Executive Board must support those candidates who have been duly nominated in a Democratic Primary Election and are prohibited from actively working in a General Election against any nominated Democratic candidate and are further prohibited from Supporting or working in favor of any candidate opposing a nominated Democratic Candidate…
    Section M. Any person who violates Section L of Rule I shall be prohibited from Serving as a member or officer of the Democratic County Committee for a period of two (2) years from the date of violation unless some other penalty is assessed in accordance With these rules.

  11. Sean you think Chuck will break 60%? That would be amazing I doubt it. Steve Santarsiero along with Tom Wolf will get the base out in the area. I think Cickay will get about 43-45%. He should do well in Newtown I would hope.

  12. Becky Cecchine-

    I think the problem with the Dems and HDCC on this issue is anatomical. Specifically: the relative locations of their heads and rear-ends.


  13. @DavidDiano David Gibbon R (Yardley) is running in the PA 31st. He is 25 years old. Why can’t the dems recruit kids like that to run. Hate seeing people run unopposed.

  14. Jim-
    I agree that it may be easier to win the Senate, but there is no reason to leave a dozen House seats unchallenged, rather than putting at least some effort into getting a challenger on the ballot.

  15. Steve Cickay is passionate, compassionate, AND intelligent! I am not even in his district, but am fighting for him because we need the likes of him in the PA Senate AND, the people voted for him! My Democratic party better start backing the right people. Though I’d miss primary elections, I’m strongly considering changing to Independent!

  16. David: We agree that Gov. Wolf is a done deal. This article focuses on the Senate which can be flipped. If I were Fresh Start that is where I would focus. Running Indies for house seats seems unproductive. In the House, Governor Wolf could put together a working majority with Dems and the DiGerolomo Reps. Winning the Senate would make it easier to govern.

  17. Robbie-
    Actually, I do think that they have better things to do that worry about Wolf winning. They need to worry about winning chambers.

    Governor Tom Wolf is a foregone conclusion.

    However, if Wolf has any hope of getting major legislative changes through, he’s really going to need more Dems. Otherwise, he’s going to be stuck like Obama with Congress.

    He can kill two-birds with one stone by coordinated campaigning with legislative races and pumping up Dem turnout and straight-ticket voting in those districts with Dem candidates (or partner with independents).

    As for candidates, since there was substitution allowed, I wasn’t sure if there was a special loophole for major party candidates to slip by that I was unaware of. (I’ll accept your assertion that there isn’t).

    However, an Independent candidate stands a GOOD chance against a Republican in a race with NO Dem candidate. An independent can capture the Center, and if supported by Wolf, capture the Left, leaving the Republican sidelined with the hardcore Right.
    In an election where Corbett and the GOP brand is damaged, an Independent can perform well, in a coordinated campaign.

    That’s a dozen races the Republicans weren’t prepared to fight, and the candidates haven’t bothered to do jack for November. They didn’t have/need campaign teams nor needed to do much fundraising. With an independent on the ballot, they’d all have to scramble.

    So, considering the stakes for each vote gained (and each R removed) from the state house, and Wolf’s image as an outsider (not a typical party-Dem), getting some Independents on the ballot is a good fit.

    Just because the HDCC failed to fill those seats, doesn’t mean that Fresh Start can’t.

    I don’t know what the rules are for the various Dem pacs (HDCC, Wolf and State committee) giving money to a non-Dem candidate. So, Fresh Start may be the best/only way to channel money/resources. Though, any of them could “ask” volunteers to work on independent campaigns and voter registration in those districts.

    If the Dems are serious about making inroads in the legislature, then they should fight tooth-and-nail for every seat.

    So, Robbie, you wish to just give-up, roll over (and hope to get your belly rubbed).

    This is why you post anonymously and I post under my name.

  18. This guy should realize he has no chance of winning and this seat can be won by the D’s. Put his ego aside and let’s win this seat for the party. Stop thinking about yourself and think about the whole picture.

  19. David Diano – I want to like and agree with you, but you make it hard when you act like an expert when you are just wrong. I know you think you have dozens of brilliant ideas that will solve the problems of the Democratic party and Pennsylvania government in a few minutes. But often you are wrong. I don’t mean “wrong” as in “I disagree with your opinion”, but “wrong” as in “You are absolutely incorrect, factually.”

    Except for President of the United States, Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans can’t get a candidate onto their ballot lines unless somebody wins that party’s nomination in the party primary election. There are two ways a candidate can appear on a Democratic or Republican party line in a Pennsylvania general election: winning the primary (either appearing on the ballot or as a write-in), or as a substitute candidate (if the candidate who won the primary decides to leave the race by mid-August – but you can’t replace nobody with somebody). That is state law. So your brilliant plan to get Democrats on the ballot for the general election in districts where no Democrat won the primary will have to wait until 2016.

    As for you other plan, you really think Tom Wolf and Fresh Start should be wasting time and money just getting Independent candidates on the ballot (and they have only 2 more weeks) rather than making sure Tom Wolf wins the race for Governor (where RGA money will make sure Corbett outspends him) and other Democrats do better? Yeah, great plan. Now I know why none of Democratic candidates for Governor, none of the Democrat elected statewide, none of the members of Congress, and none of the members of PA Senate or PA House leadership take advice or buys products from you.

    The PA Democratic State Committee is irrelevant. The Wolf campaign, PA Senate Dems, and PA House Dems don’t care about, consult or inform PA Democratic State Committee of their strategies. The only use for PA Democratic State Committee will be when candidates use it for cheaper postage.

  20. And this ladies and gentlemen is why Democrats in Bucks County overwhelmingly lose.

    Keep it up Steve I’m rooting for you! Show the establishment Democrats your true progressive values. (Sounds a little like the Tea Party, no?)

  21. Mike Johnson-

    The reason I say “regardless of performance” is that past performance has been during Republican waves, but the tide is turning with Pennsylvanians seeing the fallout of GOP policies.

    Even if you can’t take over and get a majority, every seat you pick up is a Republican you don’t have to fight for a vote, and it makes the few “moderate Republican” votes you do get enough to tip the scales on the close ones.

    I sorted the 203 districts by Dem ratio and looked at the 30 races centered on the mid-point. To have so many of these races unchallenged, while other Dems are running deep in GOP territory with 2:1 Republican advantage, is a disgrace.

    The HDCC typically raises $4 -$5 million per election cycle. The middle 30 or 40 races are pretty much the only ones that can possibly be flipped. $4 million divided by 40 is $100,000 each.

    Now, I really can’t say that I’ve seen the HDCC spend $100,000 on a lot of races (nor am I saying that shouldn’t help the long-shot candidates).

    But, $4 million seems like a lot of money, when you can’t even field candidates in a dozen slots in the only sweet spot where you have a realistic chance of flipping seats.

    (I do realize the HRCC has tons of money as well). However to concede the races in that sweet spot, when the GOP is challenging Dems in unfriendly districts, just makes our HDCC look weak, ineffective and lazy.

    Part of my “rant” is to make Dems aware of this and wake them up. Maybe this can light a fire under the party leadership to examine these missed opportunities.

    Wolf and Fresh Start have something to prove: That they can deliver the goods for more than just the Gov mansion (which is a slam dunk this year).

    Jim Burn and the State Committee have something to prove as well: that they are still relevant in response to all the attention/opinion on the Chairman selection.

    The HDCC has a lot to prove as well. They collect millions of dollars and can’t seem to do much more than maintain the status quo. (leaving some to wonder if the status quo is their real goal)

  22. David,
    Then only republican that could beat Brady would be John Taylor.
    while the registration in the district is 2011-20121 dem the votes for every state level and lower office tend to swing to the Republican candidates mainly because the northeast is leery of the democratic machine. They seen what it has done to neighborhoods and will not allow it to creep north.

  23. @ David

    When you say ‘regardless of performance’ I guess I just wonder what criteria you would use to decide what races the Dems should be playing in? I understand your frustration on a couple of the seats going unchallenged, but most of the ones you mentioned are so far down the list of pickups that they would be nothing but a distraction if the Dems had fielded even a very good candidate. Based on the numbers, none of these districts (14, 30, 44, 56, 107, 109, 116) would come up in conversation unless you’ve already taken THIRTY-TWO seats back. Chances are good the Dems will take back 5 seats, plus or minus… if Wolf has incredible coat-tails I wouldn’t be shocked by 10, but nobody thinks that we’re taking 20 or 30 seats, so why put time and effort into a district like the 14th when there are literally 49 Republican-held House seats that are better targets to flip? The math just isn’t there.

  24. NEWLIBERAL_LION and Mike Johnson-

    Thanks for the correction on the 54th. I color-coded the cell wrong on my spreadsheet.

    I was unaware of the write-in candidate.

    Mike- regardless of the “performance” the Dems should be moving Heaven and Earth to field candidates with such a weak/unpopular Governor and bad GOP budgets.

    Sean Ryan-
    Bob Brady ACTIVELY sabotaged efforts to recruit candidates and “talked” candidates out of running, in a direct effort to help John Taylor.

    Another, in a long line, of disgraceful, traitorous actions by the head of the Philly Dems. Brady’s support of the GOP congressional redistricting which screwed the 7th and gave him a “whiter” district is near the top of the list.

    From what I read, Taylor hides the fact that he is a Republican from voters by keeping his affiliation off his lit. Does anyone really think that if Brady wanted that district flipped (2-1 Dem majority) that it wouldn’t be flipped already?

    Is Brady weak or powerful? Is he interested in helping Democrats take over the state house or is he interested in screwing Dems for his own self-interest?

    Wolf is going to win the Gov race in November by a margin bigger than the total vote count out of Philly. Wolf will owe Brady nothing, and Brady’s sabotage of efforts toward a Dem majority in the state house puts Brady in a worse position.

  25. Anyone who doesn’t know why John Taylor doesn’t have an opponent surely has never stepped foot in the Northeast in the past 20 years. If they had then they would not be questioning why there is no opponent.

  26. David, on those 12 seats you mentioned, registration is not the issue, these are not Dem performing seats. Even based on the performance of statewide candidates, most of these seats are not even close (30th is R+12, 14th is R+11, 109th is R+8, 56th is R+18, etc.), and an incumbent State House candidate, as you know, is likely to outperform those generic performances. The 137th is essentially a toss-up on performance, while the 18th and 152nd perform well for Democrats… but you can say the same thing on the other side about the 76th, that’s an R+8 performing district with an unopposed Dem. If the incumbent is well-liked, it’s very unlikely they will get knocked off.

    And by the way, two of those 12 you mentioned do have opponents. Patrick Leyland is taking another shot at Eli’s seat in the 54th, and there was a write-in winner in the 62nd against Reed.

  27. Carl-
    I already have.

    That’s the problem. 🙁

    But, the four parties I mentioned ALL have a vested interest in filling that seat (and the 12 others) with warm bodies. If they think they deserve to run the state, and are planning on raising/spending millions of dollars to turn PA around, they should be able to come up with a plan to challenge control of those seats.

    Or, at the very least, help get an Independent on the ballot.

  28. If the Dems can replace a candidate who won the primary, why is there still no Democratic challenger in the 177th against John Taylor (and not even a primary winner to replace)?

    The 177th is a 2-1 Dem registration advantage. It could be a win for Dems if Bob Brady wasn’t sabotaging efforts by helping his Republican counterpart retain the only R seat left in Philadelphia.

    If Dems want to take back the house, there are 12 other Republican held seats that are in St. Leg districts with a 1:1 or better Dem registration ratio and NO Dem challenger:

    109th, 54th, 152nd, 62nd, 14th, 30th, 44th, 56th, 137th, 107th, 116th and the 18th.

    Why are the R’s in these districts unopposed?

    While it’s tough to find candidates sometimes, these are Dem majority districts, in a year when Corbett is dragging down the ticket and Team Wolf will be pumping up Dem voter turnout.

    So, since the leaders of Wolf-PAC, Fresh Start, State Committee and the HDCC all read PoliticsPA….. how about calling each other and working together on a solution to this?
    The 10th Senate district has a lower Dem/Rep ratio than all 13 St Leg districts I listed.

  29. in a year where wolf is going to need a majority, what’s the issue here? cickay sounds like he has some ego-issues and is trying to make a point instead of give Dems what they need. with 1700 in the bank how is he going to win?

  30. This race could flip the Senate from red to blue.
    If Wolf is to get anything done as Guv, he really needs to have one House controlled by Democrats.
    The current candidate is certain to lose. What is wrong with asking him to realize that now, instead of in November?
    What will you say post election if Democrats are in the Senate minority by one seat?
    If Wolf’s agenda fails to pass the Senate by one vote, who will you blame then?

  31. What does it tell you when a Democrat can’t even raise money with unions against McIlhinney? It says the unions have their boy in Chuck as does Planned Parenthood and every other left wing group including the liquor store clerks. Why would they want to lose that advantage and take a chance with a far left socialist like Cickay who is even more left of center than Chuckie.

  32. Wow, just wow. You would think that Rendell/Wolf/McGinty would have learned something from the State Committee debacle. Don’t the choices of the voters mean anything to these particular party insiders anymore?

  33. Isn’t this a Bucks County tradition? Fitzpatrick replaced Greenwood on the ballot in 2004 when Greenwood decided to retire after the primary. It was a trick by the GOP because they knew that Dems would have recruited a great candidate for an open seat, but only put up token opposition to Greenwood. The trick worked when the Dems didn’t replace their placeholder candidate and she got hammered by Fitzpatrick.

  34. Tom Wolf’s arrogance that he can simply override voters and pick and choose his own people and candidates is going to come back to haunt him. This is a democracy not a Wolfocracy.

  35. This type of interference from a PAC, especially after there has been a primary election, will only make it more difficult to recruit candidates in the future and sends a message to voters that their choice just wasn’t good enough for a transnational corporation loving ex-governor and conservative leaning senator. How undemocratic of this group! Maybe, I’ll sit this election cycle out & spend my time & money volunteering with an issues group.

  36. It sure is nice to be a majority party and be able to switch candidates on the ticket, while restrictive rules prevent third party candidates from gaining ballot access.

  37. Not the smartest move by the Dems.

    Start with a candidate who probably doesn’t even live in the district (much different requirement than Congress).

    Add in a mix of “party bosses hand-picked her.”

    Then a dash of “well, this isn’t the office I really wanted, but I’ll take whatever I can get.”

    Great way for Naughton to start a campaign. Stick with Cickay, hold your powder for four years and then find a candidate from the start.

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