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.