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Freed Cleans Up at Home Caucus

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

Freed announces his AG bid in December

Harrisburg – Cumberland County District Attorney Dave Freed got by with a little help from his friends at Saturday’s meeting of the central caucus of Republican state committee.

Freed won 77 votes in the straw poll, compared to 19 for Pa. Senator John Rafferty (R-Montgomery).

“We exceeded expectations,” Freed said after the vote. “We’re thrilled with today’s results and looking forward to getting this show on the road next week.

Dick Stewart, the chairman of the caucus, hails from Freed’s home county of Cumberland and helped sway several undecided votes with a sincere speech on his behalf during the closed-door discussion.

It’s hardly a surprise: Freed has a good reputation in the local party and central caucus committee members tend to prefer local candidates to those from other parts of the state (especially the Philadelphia area).

It’s good news for Freed, especially considering that many of the votes for Rafferty came from Berks County – a part of which is within his district.

It’s not dire news for Rafferty. He has several upcoming opportunities to compete in neutral regions, plus his home base in the southeast. But it certainly puts the onus on him to perform well in the other caucus meetings.

The Attorney General primary is essentially a race to the endorsement. Both candidates say they will not run without the support of state committee. Each says he expects a positive campaign.

“Dave’s a good guy. This is going to be a positive campaign,” Rafferty said. “I think I have the credentials for this office,” but, “no matter what happens, we’ll be working together in the fall.”

Each candidate’s colleagues, District Attorneys for Freed, state Senators for Rafferty, have been calling their state committee members to lobby for votes.

The news service Capitolwire reported that Governor Tom Corbett, who has clashed with Rafferty in the past, was poised to endorse Freed. After meeting with both candidates yesterday however, the Governor decided not to endorse in the race.

Capitolwire reported earlier in the week that Corbett was also considering an attempt to draft Pa. House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, a former assistant Allegheny County prosecutor, into the race.

A source close to Turzai said it’s too late in the campaign process, and Turzai was highly unlikely to jump in barring a direct appeal from Corbett or other party leaders.

At 117 members, the central region is the largest of the state committee’s caucuses and among the most diverse – stretching from Bedford County to Lancaster, and north to the New York border.

Saturday’s caucus meeting represents the first in a statewide series. Next weekend, the candidates will travel to northeast Pa. and the Lehigh Valley; then, southeast Pa.; after that, southwest and northwest Pa. and finally, the state committee endorsement meeting on January 28: southeast Pa.

Rafferty is likely to do well in southeast Pa. where he has strong party support. All five county chairman have endorsed his campaign as has GOP power broker Bob Asher.

2 Responses

  1. Someplace Bruce Castor is laughing. Asher is still at it. And the point made above about Matthews and people blaming Asher for him as part of the never ending (and tiresome) feud with Castor is a good one. Asher needs Rafferty to win to show he still has the same juice. Castor was clearly hurt the more by the feud, but he is coming back after the Matthews spectacle. If Asher loses this one, he has a big hole in him. As the World Turns.

  2. When is the SE GOP going to realize that Asher is poison? The rest of the state looks at Montco and sees what he did there and keeps the guy at arms length. If Rafferty has so much support in his home area, where are his endorsements from his own DA, and former DAs from his county? No place. That screams out all you need to know. The SE Chairs telling their member what to do? Dumb and dumber. Where was Rafferty in condemning the corruption in Montco government? Where was he in lauding the Grand Jury report? Where was he in calling for reforms? Where was he supporting the censure of renegade commissioner Matthews?

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