Democrats from across Pa. will gather this weekend for the first time since election night. They’ll regroup, plan for 2017, and prepare to fight big battles for Governor and U.S. Senate.
Judicial candidates will have a panel debate this afternoon, right before the dinner with Governor Tom Wolf as the keynote speaker. Tomorrow state committee members decide who (or whether) to endorse for the 2017 judicial races.
The main drama on Saturday will be the endorsements for statewide judicial office, specifically Superior and Commonwealth Court. There are 7 candidates for just two spots.
At chairman Marcel Groen’s direction, the party convened a subcommittee in January to review candidates and make recommendations to the party at large. Several sources said the committee is recommending Judge Joe Cosgrove and Todd Eagen, both of northeast Pa, for Commonwealth Court.
Typically endorsements in low-profile races default to a ‘favorite son/daughter’ dynamic, where candidates pull strength from committee members in their home region.
The subcommittee, an effort to vitalize PA Dems’ focus on lower court races, adds a wrinkle. Will party members fall in line with its recommendations? Will regional allegiances rule? Or will committee members decline to make an endorsement?
Cosgrove and Eagen will be pushing hard for the party to make an endorsement, while the other candidates are likely to seek an open primary.
Party endorsements come with party resources, like discount direct mail, voter lists, and other institutional support.
The endorsement for Supreme Court is expected to go smoothly: Judge Dwayne Woodruff is the only candidate running for the one spot open on the Court.
The Superior Court endorsements will provide some drama, with Judge Geoffrey Moulton expected to get the endorsement in one of the four open spots. Judge Carolyn Nichols, Bill Caye, Albert J. Flora Jr., Judge Deborah A. Kunselman, Judge Maria McLaughlin, and Judge Lillian Harris Ransom are competing for the final three slots. The judicial subcommittee recommended Kunselman, Moulton, McLaughlin and Nichols.
One source said Caye, following a ‘not recommended’ rating from the Pa. Bar Association, withdrew himself from endorsement consideration (but not from the race itself).
Here is the full agenda – receptions in bold:
Friday, February 10, 2017
12:00 – 1:00pm DEMINARS
- Petition & Financial Filings Presenters: D.O.S. Commissioner- Jonathan Marks Chief, Division of Campaign Finance & Lobbying Disclosure- Trisha Robinson Chief, Division of Elections & Voter Registration- Jessica Mathis
- “It’s the Issues, stupid!” Presenter: Dwayne Heisler
- Paving Women’s Path to Leadership Becoming a candidate and running for office Presenter: Anne Wakabayashi
1:00 – 2:00pm DEMINARS
- PSEA Training “The Crisis in Unionism- Where from here?” Presenter: Matt Edgell
- Digital Tools for Advocacy in 2017 Presenter: Craig Grella
- Data: VAN (Vote Builder) Municipal Training 101 Presenter: Brett Benson (USW)
2:00 – 3:00pm DEMINARS
- Candidate Recruitment & Training Presenter: Mitch Kates (and guests)
- Digital Organizing Presenter: Craig Grella
- Mini-VAN Engaging in Your Universe Presenter: Megan Winter
3:00 – 4:00pm Committee and Caucus meetings
4:00 – 6:00 pm Judicial Candidates Forum (Sponsored by the Women’s Caucus, Candy Stitzman, Chair)
4:00 – 6:00 pm Judge Joseph Cosgrove for Commonwealth Court: Soft drinks, water and soft pretzels
6:00 – 7:00 pm Friends of Judge Maria McLaughlin Sponsored by IBEW Local 98 Featuring Judge Maria McLaughlin, candidate for Superior Court and Congressman Robert A. Brady.
7:00 – 10:00 pm Dinner
7:00 – 10:00 pm Timothy Barry for Commonwealth Court Cash Bar
7:00 – 10:00 pm Rep. Bryan Barbin for Commonwealth Court Reception
8:30 – 10:30 pm Judge Ellen Ceisler for Commonwealth Court Ice Cream Sundae Reception
10:00 – 12:00am Pa. Young Dems After-Party Fundraiser
Saturday, February 11, 2017
7:00 am Judge Dwayne Woodruff for Supreme Court Coffee and Danish
8:00 – 10:00am Caucus and Committee Meetings
10:00 – 11:00am Regional Caucus Meetings
11:15am Lunch Buffet
12:00pm State Committee Meeting
1:00 pm State Committee Endorsement Meeting
Disclosure: Judge Ellen Ceisler was formerly married to Larry Ceisler, one of the owners of PoliticsPA.