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Corbett Whips Last Minute Votes for Welch

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Corbett seeks to seal the deal with a committee member.

Hershey — As the seven Republican candidates for U.S. Senate debated at the Hershey Lodge on Friday night, Governor Tom Corbett summoned committee members to the hallway one-by-one to lock down their support for his endorsed candidate: Steve Welch.

In a pair of high-backed chairs in the hallway of the Lodge, Corbett made his case for the endorsement, several sources relayed to PoliticsPA.

He reportedly said that the outcome would affect the reputation of state committee as well as his own. He also made the case for a geographically balanced ticket: Welch from the southeast, Dave Freed from south central, and John Maher and Diana Irey from the southwest.

Many of the committee members he spoke to were from the southwestern caucus, Corbett’s home base, but had expressed hesitation toward making an endorsement – or even supported another candidate – in last week’s caucus meeting.

Brian Nutt is a spokesman for Corbett. His firm, BrabenderCox, counts Welch as a client. Nutt said the Governor was thanking committee members rather than lobbying them, acknowledging that there were making tough votes.

Others argued that the Governor’s mere presence in the hallway, let alone the fact that he was personally whipping votes, bodes ill for Welch, a Chester County entrepreneur.

If the votes were there, they ask, why go to the trouble?

Indeed, most committee members criticized Corbett’s handling of the race and characterized the last-minute push as the consequence of an unforced error – namely, the lateness of his endorsement.

As a result, a race that had been far from the top of the Governor’s radar a month ago has emerged as a test of his clout.

Corbett declined comment when approached by PoliticsPA.

State of Play

The question of whether to endorse appears to be settled: it takes 50 percent of members to say no, meaning that in order to have a chance of failing, supporters of Burns and Tom Smith’s would have to vote against it. There is zero indication that either campaign has made any effort to do so. Indeed, Burns’ campaign distributed a letter reiterating his intent to fight all the way through the meeting.

Welch appears posed to win the endorsement. Earlier in the evening, the PAGOP’s Leadership Committee nominated and endorsed Welch – all within 2 minutes – as the Governor looked on.

Corbett’s team made their way into the bar at the Hershey Lodge late into the night projecting a sense of mission accomplished. They mingled with Tim Burns’ team, which seemed committed to the fight but resigned to its likely outcome. Burns and Welch have been tangling for weeks to win the endorsement.

People have a variety of predictions, but the general sense is that Welch will take it within 4 ballots (the lowest vote-getter is knocked off after each ballot until one candidate gets 50 percent plus one). A few predict it will happen on the first ballot, skeptics say 6.

The southeast delegation was evidently not as sewn up as PoliticsPA reported Thursday, but it is now. The Montgomery County delegation huddled for over an hour after the debate ended to discuss strategy, with Chairman Bob Kerns asking members to vote for Welch. The thinking went, according to a few who were in the huddle, that they stood to gain little from opposing Corbett and that it wasn’t worth trying given the fact that Welch was likely to pull through anyway.

Over in Bucks County, word is that native son David Christian, a businessman and veterans’ advocate, won’t even get their votes in the first ballot.

Meanwhile other members, partly in response to the intense scrutiny the vote will earn them on the floor Saturday morning, are prepared to take their medicine and back Welch.

Burns is a businessman from Washington County; Smith is a businessman from Armstrong County. Also contending are Sam Rohrer, a former State Rep. from Berks County; Marc Scaringi, an attorney from Cumberland County; and John Kensinger, a pharmacist from Bedford County. The latter three oppose a committee endorsement.

15 Responses

  1. Do we need another cover up? The Democrats will make the valid point that it appears that Tom Corbett want to pick his “investigator” for his role in the Sandusky investigation and then there is Dave Freed’s financial and political and familial ties to someone who is under active investigation by Penna. Attorney General (Note Pa does not have an Independent Counsel law). The Democrats can read and negative is what they do best.This time they have some facts.

    LeRoy Zimmerman was getting rich for getting rich from the legendary legacy of Milton S. Hershey which was intended to benefit vulnerable, disadvantaged, needy children, not enrich political hacks like LeRoy Zimmerman or advance his son-in-law’s career.

    Sweet return for Hershey’s director after salary rockets from $35,000 to half a million in just NINE years By Daily Mail Reporter United Kingdom 25th July 2011

    How Hershey charity director fees rose to half a million July 20, 2011 By Bob Fernandez, Inquirer Staff Writer

    LeRoy S. Zimmerman to Leave Hershey Charity By Bob Fernandez Nov. 28, 2011 Philadelphia Inquirer

    LeRoy Zimmerman Leaving Hershey Co. Board of Director 9 February 2011

    Pa. Attorney General Probes Millions in Land Deals by Hershey School’s Trust Fri, Feb. 11, 2011, By Bob Fernandez Inquirer Staff Writer
    May I remind you that a rape of a ten year old was covered up for nine years? How did this happen? It seems very likely that it was not a matter that “slipped through the cracks.” And for more conspiratorial view, there is the “throwing Joe Paterno under the bus” narrative being developed.

    And the Governor has had some criticism for what some think was a tardy investigation of child rapist and serial child molester Jerry Sandusky (Pa. AG Nov. 5, 2011 and Dec. 7, 2011 ) and the media is amplifying this narrative (Patriot-News 26 Jan. 2012).

    In my view, the Dave Freed endorsement further demoralizes the Republican base.

  2. I hope all the candidates stay in. Dave Christian is the only Vet and we need someone from the southeast to challenge the Corbett endorsement.

  3. State endorsements don’t guarantee the nomination. At the beginning of 2010 Arlen Specter was ahead of Joe Sestak by a margin of 53-30. There is still time in this race for a lot of changes.

  4. Kim

    What is going on in Hershey? What is Corbett smoking? In an election year when Republicans are running against the worst President of our generation, PA Republicans are endorsing a guy who supported him as a Democrat? This is ridiculous.

  5. Anne

    It’s a shame that the governor felt the need to inject himself into the races this year. I could understand what he’s trying to hide with endorsing David Freed for Attorney General, but Welch for Senate? Something very wrong there.

  6. if we as tea party members do not like the choices the state committee makes,

    we should stop complaining and get to work running for and winning seats on both the local and state committees.

    then we will be in positions of influence and we will have the authority and the right to make these choices.

  7. Well now we know, everyone is good at something. Tom Corbett can’t get free enterprise to be the rule in PA liquor sales; he can’t get any type of significant reform to state pensions (unlike many states, even ones run by Democrats) and this will ultimately drown the taxpayers; he can’t try to stop voter fraud (and basically did nothing about it as Attorney General) and this cheapens real votes; he can’t give our children a choice for schools; and I could go on and on. But like I said, everyone is good at something. He is good at getting spineless people who believe in nothing to support someone who seems to be a Democrat (and a liberal one at that) for Republican candidate for senate. Congratulations Tom Corbett!

    This shouldn’t be a Tea Party-or-not issue, it should be an issue of what is supposed to be the ideals of the Republican Party. Welch insulted our intelligence with his “explanations” for supporting two of the most liberal, statist candidates around. Either he is just an opportunist or he is clueless. Either way, he is sure not the candidate for a party of constitutional, limited government, free-enterprise ideals.

    A disgrace

  8. Agreed that the Independence Tea Party group is a fraud. Funny that they occasionally feud with the Kitchen Table Patriots – who are also fraud. The co-chairs of the KTP are paid lobbyists in PA and one of them was appointed to some gratuitous education position when she has no experience whatsover in education. And the most recent hypocracy of KTP is KTP strenously fighting for an open primary in the US Senate race – when both of the co-chairs are going to the Bucks County GOP screenings to try and get the party endorsement for State Delegate so their names could be on the Bucks GOP Sample Ballot on primary day. I’m a non-tea party conservative and find these toot-your-own-horn tea party groups to be pretty worthless.

  9. The truth is that all 3 serious Republican candidates left in the POTUS race are pre-tea party. (That is something the Tea Party could not control. In the 2016 or 2020 race, perhaps a viable post-tea party candidate, one who truly believes in the principles of limited government, will seek the office of the Presidency.)

    But for now, lets review our 3 main choices.

    Rick Santorum is a compassionate conservative who often voted to grow government–voting for the prescription drug program and other costly programs.

    The Freddy Mac & global warming Newt Gingrich loved to involve government in solutions.

    And yes, Mitt Romney was too willing to extend the so-called “helpful hand” of government as in TARP and RomneyCare.

    But the Tea Party movement is post TARP and a direct response to the Obama socialist agenda (Rick Santelli ignited the Tea Party with his rant against the Obama Administration).

    Remember Obama? He’s the larger than life enemy of free enterprise, meritocracy, and traditional American values.

    Well, the Independence Hall Tea Party PAC has remembered this fact and has set winning the White House as its goal.

    It has been clear for a while that Romney will win the nomination because of his superior organizational strength and the Independence Hall Tea Party PAC is trying to unify factions on the right to defeat Barack Obama.

    Most reasonable conservatives acknowledge that a Romney presidency is preferable to an Obama presidency.

    So, the Independence Hall Tea Party PAC reasoned that if we can get the POTUS nomination battle behind us, we’ll stop the cannibalism of our own and be able to focus more squarely on nominating solid conservatives for the US Senate–like Tim Burns or Sam Rohrer in PA and Anna Little in NJ.

    A conservative Congress can set the tone for the next President–provided that we elect a conservative Congress.

    The Tea Party cannot take on the world at once. It must choose its battles wisely–spend its time and energy in contests it can win.

    Victory will not come overnight. We must have a longer term strategy.

    BTW, Congressman Paul Ryan voted in favor of TARP. Which reminds me–the only perfect man to walk on earth was Jesus Christ.

    Even honest Abe made a ton of mistakes.

  10. Welch came in third in the straw polls across the state. Not first or second. Tim Burns and Tom Smith got skipped over because the dictator governor decided to do his buddies at Brabender/Cox a favor.
    I will do everything I can as a Tea Party leader to make sure that someone other than Welch wins the Republican primary in April. The State committee people should be ashamed of themselves for bowing to a dictator like Corbett. Why don’t we just let Corbett make all of the decisions for us? WE the people will decide! I am so angry right now!

  11. The Independence Hall Tea Party Association is a FRAUD. They are an extension of the RNC who endorsed whoever the establishment wants. They even endorses Romney, who supported the very thing that gave birth to the tea party movement in the first place, TARP!!!!

  12. I don’t know enough about Statewide Politics to speak authoritatively, but why am I not surprise to hear that Pat Poprik and her people are screwing their native son. It has to have something to do with PAT. Whatever helps PAT goes. And that idiot Komelasky is her lapdog. June is coming Pat. Cullen won’t win and neither will you, time to make your friends now. Anyone but Poprik for Chair in 2012.

  13. To its credit, the Independence Hall Tea Party PAC
    sent an open letter to State Committee members urging them to “squelch the Welch endorsement.”

    Don’t think the Tea Party PAC was twisting any arms–just providing sound reasons as to why a Welch endorsement is so lame.

    The armtwisting has been left to the Commonwealth’s thuggy new Party Boss–Governor Tom Corbett.

  14. Center Daily Times is reporting that at least 50% abstentions would nullify a vote to endorse. What if everyone voted their first choice in round one and then abstained in round 2 if no majority emerged? Comments?

  15. Word on the street is Christian released his votes, wants as much establishment support of Welch as possible.

  • Does the NYC Verdict Make You More or Less Likely to Vote For Trump in 2024?

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