This past Saturday the Bucks County Democratic Committee met to decide which candidates would win their endorsement for the upcoming May primary. Ultimately, though, the BCDC decided not to hold any votes and to allow an open primary in all contests.
While the BCDC’s decision extended to statewide races like the battles for Governor and Lt. Governor, most of the attention was focused on the Democratic primary in PA-8 between businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton and Iraq and Afghan war vet Kevin Strouse. The Eighth district contains all of Bucks County (along with some of upper Montgomery County) so an endorsement would’ve been a major victory for either candidate.
It was decided early on, however, that instead of weighing in with their own selections, the party would formally stay on the sidelines until the May 20th primary election.
“I suggested since we have two really exceptional candidates, that we take an open primary position,” Bucks County Democratic Chair John Cordisco told PoliticsPA.
Cordisco’s suggestion of an open primary was seconded and approved by the committee members and applied to all but the state committee slate.
“I thought for the candidates sake that an open primary was the best path to take,” Cordisco explained. “That this was the best way for the party to give each candidate an opportunity and it would be a good vehicle to get them maximum exposure.”
The party chairman compared the situation to 2006, when their was a competitive Democratic primary between Patrick Murphy and Andrew Warren, which eventually led to Murphy defeating Fitzpatrick in the general election.*
Neil Samuels, a former Executive Director of the party and an attendee confirmed that the feeling among the party was that the only correct course of action was to leave the choice to the voters.
“The BCDC took a more active role in this primary than any other primary in the 12 years I’ve been in the committee,” Samuels asserted. “There were debates and forums held and aimed at committee people.”
“We were focused on everyone remaining happy, friendly and willing to work together for the general election,” he said of the atmosphere on Saturday. “Give the candidates the best chance to make the best case to the voters.”
“With the primary open for Democrats to decide who is best qualified to take on Mike Fitzpatrick, I’m looking forward to having a spirited debate about the direction we want to take the Eighth District and this country as a whole,” Shaughnessy Naughton said in a statement to PoliticsPA.
One last interesting note is that Rob McCord made an appearance at the event. McCord and Cordisco have history together as they competed for the Democratic nomination for State Treasurer in 2008. Cordisco, however, endorsed McCord last fall proving no ill will exists between the former foes.
*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that no endorsement was made by the committee in the 2006 primary. In fact, Murphy won their endorsement.