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How Strict Are PAGOP Endorsement Rules?

The short answer is, not very.

Since the PA Republican State Committee endorsed its slate of candidates in January, there’s been no shortage of backlash from the activist crowd.

Drawing particular ire is the assertion by the state party of that non-endorsed candidates should not speak or participate in official party functions at the county level.

But while party bylaws do prohibit members and committees from supporting Democrats – complete with a procedure for discipline – there are no such rules against welcoming non-endorsed Republicans.

Indeed, in a recent kerfuffle at state committee, committeewoman Cynthia Smith criticized the PAGOP for opposing incumbent Cambria County Commissioner Sam Valenty, a Republican. The party paid for mailers against Valenty, citing the fact that he voted with the Democratic commissioner 800 out of 800 times while in office.

In a letter to Smith obtained by PoliticsPA, the PAGOP’s general counsel Lawrence Tabas writes:

“The Rule [for removal of a committee member] does not limit, restrict, or prohibit in any way a [Member of the Republican Party of Pa.] from opposing a Republican candidate seeking nomination in a Republican Primary.”

That’s fortunate, because it’s been happening a lot.

At a Washington County GOP dinner this weekend, the only top tier Senate hopeful not to attend was endorsed candidate Steve Welch.

Tom Smith recently spoke at a Northumberland GOP event.

And on Tom Smith for Senate letterhead, Franklin County Chiarman Dwight Weidman wrote to every party chair to inform them that the endorsement protocols are not enforceable rules.

“A competitive Republican primary, where all voices are heard, will make our Party and our nominee stronger, increasing out chances to defeat Bob Casey,” he wrote.

6 Responses

  1. Anyone listening to Welch on Saturday in Allentown [@ the Lehigh Valley GOP-event] would have to recognize that – despite the fact that he was the headlined-endorsed speaker – he only spoke of himself…rather than ANY of the issues.

    I thought it was not in good taste that Tom Smith – who was sitting smack-dab in the middle of the room – wasn’t even recognized.

    Thus, enhancing dismay with the Establishment is its double-barreled heavy-handed approach to this process, both promoting exclusively its favorites AND ostracizing aggressively its rejects.

  2. First demands end to use of Republican Party funds in Senate Race

    February 9, 2012
    Sent: 2/9/2012 1:38:13 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
    Subj: 15th Senate District race

    First for Senate
    PO Box 5128
    Harrisburg, PA 17110

    February 8, 2012

    Hon. Jeff Haste, Chairman
    Dauphin County Republican Committee
    2255 Paxton Church Road
    Harrisburg, PA 17110

    Dear Jeff,

    It pains me to write this, but it must be said.

    The December 2011 endorsement by the DCRC of a candidate for the recently redistricted senate district no longer stands. That endorsement is null and void as a result of two court decisions.

    Both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (two weeks ago) and a Federal Court (today) have rejected the mangled mess that was presented as redistricting, with the 15th Senate District specifically cited as an egregious example. Clearly those of us in the 2001 version of the 15th Pennsylvania Senate District will be in that district for some time to come, probably a year, or more. My candidacy for that senate seat is well known, and we have collected far more ballot petition signatures than are necessary to be certified to the primary ballot next week.

    Thus, the endorsement of immediate DCRC past-chairman John McNally does not stand, and the expenditure of DCRC money on his campaign is both unethical and illegal. It is unethical because I have not been considered for the same endorsement in the actual district, and illegal because that district no longer exists.

    I request that DCRC immediately cease the expenditure of party money on the McNally campaign. Additionally, I am sending a similar letter to the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee, which funded the robo-calls last week, inviting Republicans to McNally headquarters. State Republican Party money is also off limits.

    If a lawsuit is necessary to enforce this, I will pursue it. I also expect to be invited to any new endorsement meeting, where I will speak against party endorsements in the primary race, and where I will ask John McNally to reject any endorsement.

    Using Republican Party money to promote one Republican candidate over another in a primary race is destructive and wasteful. Actually, it is outrageous and corrupt. That money must be used to defeat President Obama in the fall. Republican donors and voters deserve better than this. The Republican Party must stay out of primary races. Let the people choose without the party machine coloring their choices.

    I look forward to your response, to or my cell, which you have. Thank you.



    Josh First

  3. The Obama Sympathizers at Republican State Committee are doing the Democrats’ job for them.

    The Republican State Committee is using scarce resources to attack Republican DAVE CHRISTIAN, a true patriot who has paid with blood and highly qualified candidate, rather than using its scare resources to expose Democrat Bob Casey and Barack Obama on their radical policies bankrupting America.

    As a supporter of TOM SMITH and advocate for Free Markets in commerce and ideas and politics, I welcome the competition from DAVE CHRISTIAN, a charismatic and principled Republican, who is an asset to the Republican Party. I have met DAVE CHRISTIAN, some of his supporters and looked at his record. Competition improves quality of the campaign for all.

    I am surprised that STEVE WELCH and his supporters would not step in to stop this unwarranted intrusion in the electoral process.

    How does getting Dave Christian off the ballot help rank and file Republicans and activists?

    Once again, those entwined and endorsed by the Establishment Insiders are tainted by that entanglement.




    It may be that Steve Welch’s support for Joe Sestak and his vote for Barack Obama were not such aberrations after all.

    The Republican State Committee has, once again, embarrassed all Republicans.

    bobguzzardi ardmore

  4. Seems that the state endorsement had quite the opposite effect on conservative activists.

    To earn back the respect of the GOP electorate, next time they ought to limit their input to Pennsylvania Bar Association-judicial-type reviews, rating each candidate “Highly Recommended”, “Recommended” or “Arlen Spectorish”.

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