Koplinski Breaks 50% for LG, Plus Other State Committee Scuttlebutt

Koplinsi tallies votes
Koplinsi tallies votes

Hershey — Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski garnered more than half of the Democratic state committee votes on Saturday, but no candidate won the two-thirds needed to win a party endorsement in the race for Lieutenant Governor.

“We feel great about the outcome. We’ve always said this is a statewide effort, and we brought support from all parts of the state,” Koplinski said.

“This is a victory. We’re gonna take this and continue to move forward with strength to the May primary.”

Koplinski is no stranger to the state committee process; he has helped numerous candidates navigate endorsement votes during his time as a political advisor.

The nominating, voting, tallying, re-voting and re-tallying for the Governor’s race took so long that the Lieutenant Governor endorsement process was expedited as the Hershey Hotel rented out the room to another event later this evening.

Committee members were not permitted to give nominating speeches for LG candidates.

Koplinski took 139 votes on the first ballot, State Sen. Mike Stack got 77, former Congressman Mark Critz got 40, State Rep. Brandon Neuman won 29, Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith got 20 and Harrisburg city advisor Brenda Alton took 7.

Alton was kicked off the ballot for the second round of voting.

In the second round, Koplinski performed even more decisively: Koplinski 151, Stack 80, Critz 31, Neuman 25, Smith 16.

As in the governor’s endorsement vote, the committee required a two-thirds vote to endorse a candidate in the race. There were 303 votes cast, and the “magic number” was 202.


Jim Burn announced he’s running for another term as party chairman following kind words from leaders across the state.* Congressman and Philadelphia party chairman Bob Brady said Burn was the best chairman he’s ever worked with – and he’s worked with 13 of them. Regional chairmen bestowed him cliche gifts from their districts including buckwheat cakes, whiskey, a Peeps shirt, Lebanon bologna, etc.

The HDCC is recruiting a number of non-traditional candidates – including many women. The committee hired Aubrey Montgomery to set up a fundraising farm team for its candidates.

Corbett campaign manager Mike Barley came to eye up the potential competition; he stood along the back to take in the gubernatorial debate on Friday.

*Correction: This article originally stated that Burn had already been re-elected as party chairman.

21 Responses

  1. Rob-
    Sestak’s misbehavior with the state party during the 2010 race is well known. Sestak never shows up at state committee events because he’s about as welcome as a case of herpes.
    Sestak will never be a PA senator. Kane or Shapiro or (2nd place in gov primary) would beat him in 2016 primary.

    But, you only make my point that Sestak wouldn’t work with anyone who supported Specter after the primary ended.

    He doesn’t even live in PA (just like Santorum).

    Joe’s ship has sailed.

  2. The choice of DSC Chairman usually is the prerogative of the top of the ticket. Joe Sestak (along with Dan Onorato) was at the top of the ticket in 2010. Sestak wanted TJ Rooney out as DSC Chairman (and Mary Isenhour, by extension, as Executive Director) in June 2010 because they supported Arlen Specter in the Senate race (as did the DSC and Governor Rendell). Dan Onorato did not care. Jim Burn was the compromise choice between Onorato and Sestak to be DSC Chairman.

    As for David Diano’s personal animus toward Joe Sestak, that is a personal hobby horse he can’t stop riding. It is clear David Diano feels slighted by Joe Sestak (Sestak, like the vast majority of candidates, probably didn’t use the homemade voter services data David Diano frequently talks about on this site), nothing more. David Diano needs to realize nobody cares about his personal vendetta, it makes him even more irrelevant, and demonstrates greater pettiness and petulance each time he mentions it.

  3. Mary ISENHOUR resigned, no need for quotes, when TJ Rooney was voted out in favor of Jim Burn instead of keeping Mr. Rooney on through November. Jim Burn wanted to come on in the middle of the campaign and you can hardly fault Mary for that, but the rest of the staff was still there. Kevin Washo is a great guy and had a lot of catching up to do; he showed his chops in spades in 2012.

    And the campaign finance reports speak for themselves.

  4. Brad Kaplinski won all the caucuses but Philly – same as Rob McCord for governor. Both strong candidates with state-wide appeal, and should be considered among the front-runners.

    Joe Sestak is well-liked and respected among the state party and its various caucuses. To suggest otherwise is simply not true, and is being spouted by individuals with an agenda who have no direct or “insider knowledge” of what they speak of. It amazes me the lies and distortions that individuals post in the comments section that are just made-up – especially by individuals who are not state committee members and are not privy to state party discussions.

    Jim Burns and Kevin Washo, the PA Dems past Executive Director and senior adviser to Bob Casey, personally asked Sestak to campaign last election cycle all across the state for candidates up and down the ballot – BECAUSE Sestak was well-respected across the state, had run a strong campaign narrowly losing in a Republican “wave-year”, and was strong on the issues – a passionate advocate

    To write that “everyone with a clue at state committee knows what a dubious fraud Sestak is (non-Democrat) is insulting not only to Joe Sestak and the state committee, but also to Jim Burns who has been a great party chairman.

    As to the coordinated campaign, it was a “cluster f*ck” because TJ Rooney and Mary Eisenhower, stepped down in the middle of the 2010 election cycle, rather than not stepping down until after the November elections – as had been promised by them to the state committee and the various campaigns. TJ and Mary had been running the coordinated campaigns since Ed Rendell’s election in 2002. Their surprise resignation greatly impacted the coordinated campaign – loss of precious time to reorganize, loss of institutional knowledge, and loss of the financial backing of Ed Rendell.

    Have a conversation with Kevin Warsho, Richard Sestak (who managed his brother’s campaign), OFA’s representatives and union leaders that were in actually in the the room for those discussions – all of them are adamant that it was Specter’s lasting gift and “shaft” – to the state party and Democratic voters that TJ and Mary “resigned” who had been backing Specter, along with Ed Rendell. TJ and Mary were not only taking with them their 8-year history of running the coordinated campaign, but more importantly, they had just walked out on every Democrat in the state! Reinventing the wheel was difficult in such a short, condensed time frame once Jim was elected Chairman and Kevin brought on board. Dan Onorato and Joe Sestak did they best they could, assisted one another and helped other candidates to the extent they could. Neither Onorato, nor Sestak ran away from the state party. Sestak ran a stronger campaign than Onorato – Onorato lost by 360,000 votes, Sestak lost by a swing of just 40,000 votes.

    As to the minimum wage issue, the State Party (usually its Executive Director) runs the coordinated campaign, Sestak would have no say about what it paid staffers.

    Lastly, I have found Joe Sestak and his brother Richard to be extremely approachable individuals – who are upright, truthful and honestly answer questions posed to them. Richard was there at State Committee this weekend – and like his brother – is well-liked among state committee members. If you have an issue or a question about Sestak’s past campaign why don’t you ask them directly, instead of “making stuff-up”, I’ve never found them not declining to respond to any question posed to them.

    @ David Diano — I believe that Richard did walk over to you, shook your hand and said hello – you had that chance there to discuss past issues with him regarding the campaign and to “bury the hatchet” over what ever issues you have – but obviously you chose not to, given your postings below. (David – I’m assuming that you were the individual that was wearing the blue “streaming name tag” similar to the “electronic streaming news boards” that circle Times Square buildings. One of my friends pointed you out, as Richard and you were talking – I was curious about your name tag, he knew your name).

  5. Brad Koplinski is the best choice for Lieutenant Governor. He has campaigned the right way. He has traveled the state to all 67 counties. He has talked to people about their concerns for Pennsylvania. This has been done person to person at events and individual homes. Brad has the right views to represent the hard working middle class of Pennsylvania whether they are from cities or rural counties. Brad’s message is connecting with the voters. Brad’s on the ground orginization showed it’s strength at the State Committee vote on Saturday. Brad Koplinski would bring a strong addition to the Democratic Ticket for Governor this fall.

  6. As annoying as Mr. Diano could be in 2010 (and 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014) on all things Sestak, on the payment of staffers, he is more or less correct – while no campaign staffer makes “minimum wage” considering they’re salaried, not hourly, and work pretty intense hours, especially as the campaign nears late summer/fall, it’s been no secret that Congressman Sestak refused to pay his campaign workers a fair wage, even by the paltry standards of campaign work, and the state party said he could either pay his workers properly or they wouldn’t help him run his payroll. So he told the state party to shove it, even after they suggested ways to raise the difference. Notably, his brother and sister were both handsomely compensated for their work on his campaign.

    This is pretty much all public record with a little reading between the lines confirmed by those in the know. After fighting for workers and the labor movement for years, the state party couldn’t very well turn around and support that kind of practice. Besides, does anyone think that labor would continue to support the state party if they had? The obvious answer is there would have been hell to pay, and it’s pretty obvious that the decision had everything to do with that and nothing to do with Senator Specter – parties are in the business of getting their candidates elected; after the primary, petty internal squabbles get pushed to the wayside, but paying low-level staffers wages barely above the Federal poverty line is over the line… at least in the Democratic Party.

  7. The anti-frackers were behind Koplinski big time. This is the same group that managed to pass the moratorium resolution at the last Dem State Committee meeting. Koplinski is the only LG candidate who said he is open to a moratorium on fracking.

    I am afraid for Brad, his showing at State Committee is nothing more than a Pyrrhic victory. To date neither he nor Mark Critz have released their cash on hand number which probably means both numbers are meager.

    The other problem is next to his name on the ballot will be his home county, which is Dauphin. He will be sharing that voter base with Brenda Alton.

    Money and geography drive vote totals in down ballot races and Brad appears to have the short end of the stick on both counts.

  8. I have no doubt in my mind that mid-stater Brad Koplinski will take this all the way for a win in November. Food for thought for the other mid-stater on the top ticket. When the time is right get on board with Brad, he is in this to win!

  9. At the Democrat State Committee meeting on this past Saturday we had a caucus meeting. At the Northeast Caucus meeting I Chris Musti Northeast Democratic Caucus Secretary, and Democrat State Committeeman – Representing Lackawanna County formally endorsed Harrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski for Lt. Governor . I would like to ask all of my supporters in Lackawanna County to work with me to elect Brad Koplinski for Lt. Governor.

  10. Lee-
    No one seems to want to team up for fear of alienating someone (or picking the wrong horse to team up with).

    I think it’s too early to call who is ahead enough to partner up.

  11. Neuman has been a candidate for longer than Critz. He just didn’t announce it. He has been campaigning for over a year. Alton has been around at places for at least 6 months as a candidate. Stack is the only one who is fairly new to the field. But since he was running for governor for most of last year, he has been around. Koplinski has been everywhere, definitely the most visible candidate.

    Does anyone see anybody teaming up? Allyson could use a Koplinski, Wolf could use a Stack. It’s highly unlikely but those 2 tickets definitely make sense with Allyson’s apparent political weakness outside of Sepa and Wolf’s need to break into Philly at some level.

  12. Brad broke 50%. There were four abstentions, so they did not count against the 303 total votes cast, per the rules. Because of that, the number to be counted was 299 and Brad received over 50 percent of that number with his 151 votes.

  13. Bruce From Lancaster-

    I was commenting on how I remembered the chairman selection occurring in June 2010. Also, I was pretty jazzed over the new Sestak story I learned last night. So, the segue was from that, not the Lt. Gov part of the topic.

    Phil Perspective-
    I think Brady is one of biggest problems with Philly politics. I don’t think elected officials should allowed to be ward leaders, let alone county chairman. I don’t care for the quid-pro-politics in Philly and the rampant abuse of power in the Ward system. So, put me down for a “no” under Brady supporter.

    The DSCC offered Sestak the nod, and Sestak turned them down. Then, after they managed to pull in Specter and get his votes on the stimulus and health care, Sestak changes his mind and wants (demands) the opportunity he refused? Sorry, Charlie. Everyone with a clue at state committee knows what a duplicitous fraud Sestak is. It’s not even considered a secret.

    Sestak managed to fool the PA Dem primary voters into thinking he was a Democrat who would lead the ticket, but once he became the nominee he dropped the Democrat label from his advertising and shafted the party and the rest of the ticket.

  14. David Diano:
    Why should we believe you? We know the “establishment” was pissed because Sestak had the balls to take on Snarlin’ Arlen Specter. And the primary voters of PA rightly saw Specter for the sniveling coward he always was. Are you a DSCC, or Bob Brady, hack?

  15. David how do you turn a strong showing by Koplinski into a Sestak bash fest???? Somehow you always do. Got a lil A.D.D. going on there????

  16. Rob-
    Jim will likely remain chairman. I was talking with someone whom I considered a potential challenger to Jim and he pointed out that 2010 was an open seat for chairman. In 2014, Jim is an incumbent and hasn’t shot himself in the foot or been responsible for any major screw-up or p*ssed off enough people for anyone to be calling for his head.

    So, he’s pretty safe for the next 4 years.

    However, some of us would like to see some shake-ups in his staff. Jim would be well advised to get input on changes that would make his administration better.

  17. Looks likes the word “almost” got left out of “breaks 50%”.

    This is no surprise that Brad did well. He’s been campaigning for Lt. Gov for a while now. A few months ago he completed the ceremonial “visiting of all 67 counties”.

    Neuman and Alton just entered the race (pretty much on Friday night when they showed up at the hotel). So, their performance is not a surprise after 24 hours.

    Critz is too conservative for the Dems at state committee. His hopes rest on the conservative Dem voters, not the committee. Basically, Critz is the D in PA’s T.

    The state party reorganization meeting is in June. I remember the 2010 one was right after Sestak won the primary. That’s when I first met Chairman Burn and gave him my unsolicited (and uncensored) opinion of Sestak so he was forewarned. Joe had just failed to push one of his own supporters (I think from York) into the chairmanship. Given the difficulties Sestak presented to the party that year (like refusal to work with coordinated campaign), my warning barely scratched the surface.

    By the way, I learned a new Sestak story last night. Apparently, in 2010, Sestak’s staffers were going to work with/for state committee. However, Joe wanted them paid less than minimum wage. He was told this was the Democratic Party and they had to be paid at least minimum wage, so he pulled his workers out rather than have them paid minimum wage.

    Now, I don’t know if this was the deal breaker for the coordinated campaign. I had always assumed that Sestak didn’t want to participate in coordinated campaign because
    1) he didn’t like/respect the Democratic party
    2) state committee voted for Specter over him
    3) he planned to undermine the rest of the ticket (like when he put out election day doorknockers with only his name and not the full ticket)
    4) because he wanted all work to be about promoting Joe-only and not any other priorities
    5) he was already running away from the Democratic party label in his ads (and dropped “Democrat” from ads that once contained it.
    6) He just though he knew better how to run than the state committee.

    Joe’s about as popular at state committee as a case of herpes.

  18. @Klue is correct. The Democratic party chairman will be elected in June. Whether Burn or somebody else, it will be the choice of the top of the Democratic ticket (Burn became party chairman in 2010 because he was the compromise choice of Onorato and Sestak). In 2014, that choice will fall to the Democratic nominee for Governor, and state committee members will follow it.

  19. Burn wasn’t reelected, he will be in June and there were 4 abstentions which brings the total votes cast to 299.

Comments are closed.

  • When Should The Special Elections For The PA House Be Held?

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