PA-8: Santarsiero Gains Bucks County Dems Endorsement

democratic-donkeyIt’s that time of the year again.

Throughout the commonwealth, the county parties are meeting to decide whether and whom to endorse in the April 26th primary.

The Bucks County Democratic Committee gathered at Richboro Middle School on Saturday morning for their own meeting. The small auditorium and adjoining hallways were packed with candidates, office holders and volunteers many of whom were busy getting attendees to sign various nominating petitions.

Chairman John Cordisco spoke of his hopes of turning Bucks County blue after coming so close last November. He even called out Governor Wolf and the previous regime at the state Democratic Party. Noting that he had given Wolf $50,000 in 2014 he lamented that a request for $25,000 was met with just $2,500 the weekend before Election Day. Cordisco believed that lack of money made the difference.

When it came to the business at hand, Bucks decided to forgo any endorsements in statewide races, following the lead of the state party. Nevertheless, surrogates were still allowed to speak on a candidate’s behalf.

For instance, Josh Shapiro’s brother Adam spoke for a few minutes about his sibling’s background and his pledge to clean up the AG’s office. The Zappala campaign also sent a statement by email which was read aloud.

The biggest surprise was the appearance of Senate candidate John Fetterman who said he drove 323 miles to make it.

The Braddock Mayor spoke for just a few minutes but nonetheless made an impact on the audience. When he asked the assembled if they had ever heard of Braddock many hands went up.

“Wow, I think that’s my best showing ever,” he exclaimed.

If that informal poll or the standing ovation he received is any indication, Fetterman has become a great communicator on the stump.

On the other hand, the Sestak campaign was represented by a pair of clipboard holding representatives who spent their time working the crowd for signatures. I didn’t find any McGinty volunteers or staffers, although the campaign insists that they were present.

It’s been quite ironic that while McGinty is garnering the support of the big names in the Democratic Party, she hasn’t been as forceful at the county level. This resulted in an embarrassing development last week, when she lost an endorsement in her backyard of Chester County to Sestak, whose congressional district contained parts of the county.

The main event, though, was the PA-8 contest.

Shaughnessy Naughton’s campaign conceded beforehand that Steve Santarsiero was likely to get the endorsement and the State Representative’s supporters were out in full.

Decked out in yellow and blue, they were lead by one boisterous man who initiated several chants such as “He’s our hero, Sant-ar-siero”. Some even brought hand-made signs with pointed messages like “Chemists for Steve” (Naughton is a chemist). Santarsiero was nominated by a pair of politicians, Bucks County Commissioner Diane Marseglia and 2012 PA-8 Democratic nominee Kathy Boockvar.

Naughton was nominated by two committee people instead, one of whom called her “Shaughnessy Newton”.

It was quite the contrast from two years ago when Naughton’s support among the rank-and-file denied Kevin Strouse the county’s endorsement. Back then, thanks to DCCC support, Strouse was the leader in the money primary.

Today, however, Naughton has much more cash on hand than Santarsiero. In fact, in a reversal from 2014, there were rumblings that the DCCC might try to push Santarsiero out of the contest last summer because of worries about the State Rep.’s fundraising.

Afterwards, Santarsiero trumpeted his second victory this week (he also won the endorsement of the Montgomery County Democrats).

“I am proud to be the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District,” he stated. “I’ve built a record as a proven progressive as a state Representative standing up to the NRA by authoring our state’s universal background check bill, fighting for women’s reproductive rights by earning a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and introducing legislation to keep good paying Pennsylvanian jobs here at home. I am ready to continue the fight for our shared Democratic values in Congress.”

Naughton left the assembly and headed straight back to the campaign trail, hitting three restaurants in succession.

“Shaughnessy’s local support has been nothing short of amazing. Voters are excited to hear about how Shaughnessy will fight for them in Congress,” said Naughton Campaign spokesman Erik Polyak. “Shaughnessy is not a career politician, she comes from a middle class background and she will never forget about that when she’s in Congress.”

The 8th district consists of all of Bucks County as well as parts of upper Montgomery County.

27 Responses

  1. All of us have perceptions of the reality about how and who should run the State Committee and the facts of who is Chair is determined by a vote. That vote has been taken and all of these histories have some degree of truth mixed with some degree of conjecture.
    But and again, the issue of this article is about whether we should endorse or not endorse and I was and ma still decrying the need for personalization and insider perceptions having anything to do with our duties as State Committee to promote the Democratic Party.
    I still believe the best way that we can serve our positions is to have an open primary to draw voter attention to the qualifications of the candidates, instill confidence in the voters and cut down on the rumor and divisiveness that happen when the Party endorses instead of letting the candidates state their own credentials and beliefs to the Party which I believe is only assembled in full at the ballot box.

  2. Bill-

    If you look at my original remarks, I criticized/corrected the reporting: “When it came to the business at hand, Bucks decided to forgo any endorsements in statewide races, following the lead of the state party”

    Since the state party has not convened due to the snow, there was no “lead” to follow, as the membership had not spoken. The only “lead” to follow was that of the chairman.

    SC Member-

    1) Team Wolf lobbied and made calls to state committee members to push McGinty as chair. When it became obvious that there were not enough votes to elect McGinty, the entire effort was abandoned and “Fresh Start” appeared out of thin air.
    I was at that State Committee meeting and spoke to many members about McGinty vs Burn. The consensus opinion against McGinty came from the progressives, particularly environmentalists, who felt she was a fraud and a “green washer”. Others who support Burn said that Jim was active in visiting their counties and communicating with them to earn their vote.

    2) Marcel himself told me that that Montco Dems were going to boycott State committee fundraisers as long at Burn was state chair. We were at some Montco event at the Great American Pub in Conshohoken. So, my “source” on this is Marcel’s own lips.

    3) I was at the state committee event in Allentown when the deal for him to step down was cut. The committee members I spoke to who were happy to get rid of Burn claimed that Burn had done a poor job fundraising.

    4) Wolf certainly did raise it for “himself” because he didn’t do jack shit for the legislative candidates and a coordinated campaign, which is why he had negative coattails and doesn’t have enough Dem votes to pass a budget.

    5) Marcel was picked by Wolf. The other big complaint by the anti-Burn crowd was that the Gov nominee should pick the state committee chair and the membership should shut the f*ck up and fall in line and do as they were told. When Burn stepped down, he didn’t push for a challenge to Marcel, and start another war with Team Wolf (though a number of people did ask Roger Lund to run).

    6) Yes, they did beg Josh to run (and Josh had made signals of interest in a Senate run), but with Kane’s troubles, Josh switched his sights to an AG run by the summer. I was at a picnic event with Josh and Marcel where there was already talk of Josh running for AG. When I said that Josh wasn’t qualified for the job and that I’d have to support Kane over Josh, he and Marcel both got very upset/defensive about Josh’s qualifications. So, yeah, that was already the goal by the summer.

    7) The point of this was the connections and the tight inner circle pulling the strings and interested in controlling endorsements. Many others here have pointed to the connections between Rendell, Wolf, McGinty, Groen and Shapiro.

    8) As I said, the letter was sent after Marcel was shot down attempting to have no vote at all. But, even if there were not enough votes for anyone to meet the endorsement threshold, Marcel wouldn’t want his picks/favorites to come in second. So there was every reason to push for “open primary” and avoid an endorsement vote that might reveal weakness in his candidates.

    9) Marcel was at the Montco convention and seemed to be directing/overseeing his desired outcomes. The inconsistent pushes for open primaries for some races, and endorsements for others, matched the backroom politics. The candidates knew who was trying to screw them and how.

    10) The Delco chairman tried to push for no endorsement for the 7th at a leaders meeting before the convention. This was ridiculous and insulting to long-time Delco Dem Mary Ellen Balchunis. The day before the convention members were sent an email by some of the chairman’s lackeys with misleading arguments for an open primary (centered around Golderer’s cash on hand, and not his qualifications). I and others sent rebuttal letters that informed the membership to warn them about attempts to slip an open primary past them for some races and not others.

    Your “arguments” have been completely hollow and ignoring the power of the gavel and the chair to control the agenda and misapply Robert’s rules of order on an unsuspecting membership to thwart their will. Bill Golderer’s people were pushing for an open primary because they knew they would get slaughtered in an endorsement vote. They were only able to influence a minority with their cash-on-hand numbers and no other qualifications.

  3. So it seems that once again that most of these comments have absolutely nothing to do with the substance of this particular story and that all of the earlier comments regarding this story have been deleted and replaced by these. Like several of you, I am also a member of the state committee. I would prefer to discuss items referring to it when the story is addressing that. This story was about the Bucks County endorsement meeting. About the warm welcome John Fetterman received and what it is saying about the current US Senate race. It is about the overwhelming response Steve Santarsiero received, receiving 95.7%, 247 to 11, of the vote in an auditorium full to capacity with county committee persons, municipal chairs and local leaders. The same people here seem to dominate every conversation and seem obsessed with the same issues over and over again. How about sticking to the subject at hand perhaps?

  4. Real truth
    1.) But, let’s be clear about what’s going on:
    Wolf picked McGinty for state chair in 2014 and the membership rejected her to reelect Jim Burn.

    A. McGinty never had her name in nomination. Wolf – Said no to Burn’s backdoor deal to step down. Instead Wolf started his own group. No one ran but Burn, so untrue that the membership rejected anyone.

    2) Marcel initiated a boycott of state committee fundraiser by Montco committee as long as Burn remained chair.

    B. Montgomery County did buy tickets to fundraisers. Truth is the fundraisers were so poorly planned that they cost more then what was raised. It was the elected officials across that state that refused to keep funding a failing party. I hardly think Montgomery few votes on State Committee could break a party.

    3) Burn was pressured to step down from State committee, with his detractors claiming he wasn’t doing a good job fundraising (as some of them withheld funding).

    C. Not one state official supported Burn. His group of followers, talked but failed to deliver anything. Except the blame game. Burn did nothing but cry and try to get a job with Wolf. Wolf rejected his backdoor game.

    4) Money that normally would have gone to state committee in 2014 went to the suddenly created “Fresh Start”, chaired by McGinty.

    D. Every choice has an equal and opposite reaction. Wolf raised the money for his own campaign under fresh start, he didn’t raise it for Party people to go on vacation and waste money.

    5) Jim Burn was finally pushed out and replaced by Marcel.

    E. Burn stepped down because it was clear that he had no power to pull a party together, Burn lost the support of Brady and others. Marcel was elected by the body. It was a free open election anyone could run. No one did.

    6) Marcel and Josh were working on putting Josh in the AG race since last summer. Wolf even created a crime commission to put Josh on to shore up his credentials.

    F. Truth if you remember it was the United States Senate that begged Josh to run. Josh rejected the race. It is America and people are permitted to look ahead and pick races they want to enter.

    7) McGinty runs for Senate and is endorsed by Wolf.

    G. So, that is his right to endorse anyone he wants.

    8) It becomes obvious that McGinty and Shapiro do not have enough votes to prevail at state committee, so Marcel campaigns behind the scenes for open primary.

    H. It becomes obvious that NO one has enough votes to win, Chairman sends out an Open letter stating his concerns. Openly states to consider his concerns and make your own choice to endorse or not. Announces a Vote will be held. If he was backdoor politics, why would he send an open letter??

    9) Montco convention pushes for open primary for Senate race (Sestak has reasonable chance of winning it). But, for endorsement vote for AG race and Treasure (Shapiro and Torsella both from Montco).

    I. Who cares what MCDC does or any other county, what does that have to do with a state open primary?

    10) In 7th congressional, DCCC and the powers-that-be try to prevent endorsement vote because Mary Ellen is popular Dem committee member with long standing ties and Golderer is a non-voter with more money, but who can’t win endorsement. His main reason given why people should vote for him was his money.

    J. Another who cares what some district does in their own area. People that hold the votes are permitted to vote anyway they want. If you don’t like the outcome – to bad. The committees Voted to do whatever they decided to do. They have that right.

    Just because you repeat a lie, time after time doesn’t make it true. It’s still a lie. Paint the real picture. Or stop painting.

  5. David: Thank you for your attention to my position. I believe I have this position because of over 50 years of political participation and an understanding that we have devolved to a who struck John paranoid view of every action taken.

    I am glad that Marcel raised the question for our meeting agenda. A reasoned debate about whether our endorsements are or should be of importance is long overdue.

    The belief that we at State Committee are more expert on issues may be partly true, but the purpose of a Primary is for the candidates to make their views on what issues must be dealt with as they meet the voters. I welcome informed voters to our party who want informed candidates. I sincerely believe we are rather late in solving real problems concerning major issues about the future of my grandchildren. I am an elder in the party and as I leave it is about the future and leaving this political situation a bit better than it has been.

    So, whether one agrees with the endorsement process or not the opportunity to air the pros and cons of who and why we endorse is long overdue.

    The voters job is to not just accept what the candidates tell them – but by meeting the candidates telling them what they demand their officials deal with that affects the blended views between those who engage as candidates and voters who learn to deal with the real world beyond their wants and one wherein their candidates express solid reasons they should trust them to develop solutions and consider their needs also. Politics should be a business transaction and not a matter of faith that someone else can make the choices and the loyal should follow. At least that is my opinion, subject to a vote of the Party.

  6. Brad many of us agree with you and our Chairman. To bad people NOT on State Committee cause so many issues. Its time we win November elections and stop this primary party fights. Looking forward to a good meeting

  7. Brad-

    That is a sound and reasoned argument for open primaries without endorsements. Unfortunately, I agree that you are in the minority for rationale for open primary.

    I get the distinct impression that most advocates for open primaries just think their candidates can’t win the endorsement,. And that they would vote to have endorsements whenever their candidates had the advantage.

    I appreciate your consistent philosophy on the subject.

  8. The reason not to have an endorsement is deeper than the reasoning presented by the writers.
    We Democrats have the right at Primary Elections to select candidates based on the peoples assessments. The State Committee is the governing body of the Party but the Party is the number of voters who actually vote in the elections. That is the principal of Primary participation.

    Rather than be advised by the (feared bosses) or rumored of intrigue, as many allege here, some of we in the State Committee consider it wiser to let the candidates make their case to the voters. Rather then weaken our Party we believe this process gives our candidates name and position recognition without the any odor of petty party political maneuvers. Honest government comes from the voters understanding issues and then voting on those who they believe spell out the cures to our political system. Then we can hold them responsible to the tasks they outline.

    My position is admittedly controversial among some pundits and contributors – but I and many others believe that we need a Party that allows our people to present issues to voters and win nomination by merit and also stand up to critique as to whether their positions match what the electors want rather than only influential democrats.

    Ultimately we need a united party in the General Elections. The Party by allowing the voters to determine the results without endorsements allows the healing to be among those voters who have had fair opportunity without Party influence. Thus, they heal for the sake of getting good democrats elected by their own merits rather than elite party members, contributors or Party bosses.

    In local elections we know who we are dealing with but at the State level the voters need to view our candidates and understand their vital interests and then vote for a united slate based on voter participation.

    We will be voting on the endorsement issue not because Marcel dictates it but we want to determine whether the State Committee wants to continue to put out endorsements or build the party by returning to basic exposure of the quality of those who choose to run.

  9. Stories

    No. Point is that Marcel is a strong leader, but with a bit much of the strong-arm methodology to control outcomes that should be left to the membership.

    The Montco Dems are strong, solvent, and well organized. Marcel kept the momentum going, rather than set it back like Delco’s current chair.

    A realistic assessment of his achievements needs to take into account the same steady gains over the past 15 years in Dem registration, that gave him a solid foundation to build on.

  10. Whistleblower

    I had heard that Zappala had the 2/3, but that was from the Zappala camp, and 2/3 is a big hurdle when the chair wants a different outcome, and SEPA is closer to Harrisburg.

    I will say it was clear that Josh would not get 2/3, so no point in Marcel having a vote that his pick wouldn’t win. (especially when there was near certainty that Zappala would get more votes, and might hit 2/3)

    So, no upside for a chairman with a preference that can’t win endorsement. That leaves pushing for no endorsement and avoiding a show of candidate strength.

  11. So let me get this story right, as you tell it.
    Everything good in the world Chairman Groen had nothing to do with.
    Everything bad in the world is Chairman Groen fault.
    That’s your story??
    Jealousy and Envy are strong negative emotions. May I suggest instead of telling your stories, you check in to the local mental institution to be evaluated.
    Your time there may help you live in the “real world”. Good Luck, may you find peace. I’ll pray for you. On your release maybe you can be a productive member of Pennsylvania instead of destructive. I’ll start a prayer chain in your name. In Jesus name heal this soul of jealousy.

  12. Once again this blogs bias is subtly evident in the reporting of the Endorsement meeting. There were just under 260 enthusiastic committee persons present and voting. Every party of Bucks County was represented. Only 11 voted for Naughton. The vote was done by a show of hands and witnessed by everyone. It was a dramatic example of the depth and breadth of support Steve Santarsiero has among the grassroots leaders of the party. It was overwhelming. Naughton was thoroughly rejected by the workers and community leaders of the party. This election will decide whether outside money and power brokers are more influential than grassroots leaders and workers. Stay tuned.

  13. Hey Stories. Are you living on the f moon. Marcel HASNT built anything in Montco. He’s a lazy selfish do nothing and everyone at state committee knows it. David Diano is 100% correct except he needs to add Zappala has had the 2/3 endorsement votes needed for weeks. They’re stalling!! Take a bow Diano this might be the most you’ve ever been right. The only thing DDianos been more right on is that rsklaroff is a wingnut

  14. In other words: some people are taking credit for the sun rising.

    (That’s not to say that some don’t do a better job than others of taking advantage to maximize the impact of that Dem gain each year. It’s just that the gains are there waiting for competent leadership. Not “amazing” leadership, just competent).

    BTW, # 11 on my list:
    The DNC convention coming to Pennsylvania was also a motivation to gain control of perks and the awarding of contracts to the well connected.

  15. Stories-

    1) What County are you from?

    2) Montgomery didn’t perform any “magic”.

    Among the currently registered voters, the were 100K Dem prior to 2000 and 112K Republicans.

    Through demographics of younger voters and voters from Philly, Montco has had as steady net gain of 1,500 to 2,00 voters per year, with spikes of 8K and 10K in 2004 and 2008. This has created a 47K swing to give the Montco Dems a 35K lead over the GOP.

    This registration edge has lead to power and money begetting more power and money.

    In Delco, the Dems were 37K behind and are now only 1.5K behind. We’ve picked up about 35K while Montco picked up 47K, but we were a lot further behind and have only 70% the population. So, proportionally, we’ve gained at the same rate.

    So, there is no magic there except time.

    By, Nov 2019 elections, Delco Dems will have a 10K to 15K majority and will be viable to start winning countywide races. (Especially if we get rid of the current inept chairman who is completely out of his depth)

    Statewide, the Dems gain a net registration of around 20K each year, with spikes 3 to 5 times that size in presidential years.

    This pattern in Delco, Montco and the State has been pretty consistent regardless of the leadership for the past 15 years.

  16. Tell your stories to anyone that cares to read them. Remember one thing, Chairman Groen has built Montgomery County True blue. I am looking forward to being a part of his team to turn our state complete blue. He has come to our county three times to help us build a real party.

  17. Stories-

    Everything I listed is pretty much common knowledge to anyone involved in any of the 10 points.

  18. LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL you and your stories. “someone this” “someone that” Anytime something doesn’t go your way, its Marcel or Josh’s fault. If you are so wonderful – why don’t you run for something?????
    Why aren’t you King——. You and your stories.
    Maybe someday they will put a statue of you. Greatest story teller of all time. Maybe just maybe someday your stories will have facts…

  19. Dave: your perceptions are probably all accurate. The big fix has been around so long that it is a template. I have watched the Zappala gang use it in the west…both ways. That is the power of the office and I just don’t want to see them grab another one.

  20. Stories-

    Obviously, he can’t attend everyone, but was at the two I attended (Montco and Delco).

    But, at the Montco one he was consulting with the vote counters as they were doing their counting and someone standing next to me expressed concern that Marcel was attempting to influence the count.

    But, let’s be clear about what’s going on:
    1) Wolf picked McGinty for state chair in 2014 and the membership rejected her to reelect Jim Burn.

    2) Marcel initiated a boycott of state committee fundraiser by Montco committee as long as Burn remained chair.

    3) Burn was pressured to step down from State committee, with his detractors claiming he wasn’t doing a good job fundraising (as some of them withheld funding).

    4) Money that normally would have gone to state committee in 2014 went to the suddenly created “Fresh Start”, chaired by McGinty.

    5) Jim Burn was finally pushed out and replaced by Marcel.

    6) Marcel and Josh were working on putting Josh in the AG race since last summer. Wolf even created a crime commission to put Josh on to shore up his credentials.

    7) McGinty runs for Senate and is endorsed by Wolf.

    8) It becomes obvious that McGinty and Shapiro do not have enough votes to prevail at state committee, so Marcel campaigns behind the scenes for open primary.

    9) Montco convention pushes for open primary for Senate race (Sestak has reasonable chance of winning it). But, for endorsement vote for AG race and Treasure (Shapiro and Torsella both from Montco).

    10) In 7th congressional, DCCC and the powers-that-be try to prevent endorsement vote because Mary Ellen is popular Dem committee member with long standing ties and Golderer is a non-voter with more money, but who can’t win endorsement. His main reason given why people should vote for him was his money.

  21. Once again, Zappala mails in his campaign. Classy, as usual. When a candidate relies on party hacks, union return-favors and family mob ties to win an election, the sissy doesn’t have to face the people or answer any questions…not that he could, unless “I won’t dignify that question with an answer” is an acceptable answer. When Sonny Corleone gets elected, his Uncle Charlie will show everyone how to persecute public and private enemies.

  22. According to you! As a member, it was our state Chairman communicating his concerns. I am not sure your backdoor comment and his upfront letter go hand in hand.
    Are you saying Chairman Groen is attending all the county conventions???? Or is that just another example of your conspiracy theory stories????

  23. Stories –

    The letter you refer to was the result of Marcel attempting to have no endorsements, and getting A LOT of push back.

    Make no mistake, his presence and preference (at the county conventions and behind the scenes) has been felt.

  24. Story Telling. Maybe get facts instead of your conspiracy theory on everything that happens in pa politics. If Bucks Chairman didn’t want to endorse because his guy was not getting the endorsement. It had nothing to do with State Party. As a Member of State Committee, Chairman Groen letter just stated his concerns and stated the committee would be voting to have or not have endorsements. No hidden agenda just the facts. Maybe you should try that for a change.

  25. “When it came to the business at hand, Bucks decided to forgo any endorsements in statewide races, following the lead of state party.”

    Actually, the state party didn’t convene in January and there strong support FOR endorsing the races, and a lot of push back on the state chairman’s attempts to suppress endorsement votes. The leading theory has been that his hand-picked/preferred candidates would not be able to secure the state party endorsement.

    So, Bucks wasn’t following the lead, but appeared to be folding under the pressure as state leadership continues to interfere and put their thumb on the scale.

    There was an underhanded attempt to have no endorsement for the 7th congressional district in Delco by some of these same forces. In the 7th, Mary Ellen Balchunis is running against Bill Golderer (who actually lives in Chester in the 6th district). Because Golderer has raised more money, the DCCC and party officials have tried to interfere and prevent endorsement votes in this race. Mary Ellen has been a very active and involved member of the Delco Democratic party for decades and a member of state committe, while Golderer’s voting record is under 50% and has never been involved in the party. Fortunately, the troops were warned, and prepared. Mary Ellen won the Delco Dems nomination overwhelmingly. She also won the Montco and Chester endorsements as well.

  26. Why is PoliticsPA so set on defending Naughton? She’s not even a chemist and still relies on her corrupt fiancé Josh Morrow (who I am told was at the meeting).

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