Reader Poll: Should PA Dems Chair Jim Burn Step Down?

jim-burnJust one year after fighting hard to keep his job, Jim Burn is now contemplating if he should quit.

Last year, Tom Wolf vigorously tried to push Burn out of his job in favor of his own pick, Katie McGinty. Burn, though, refused to yield and the future Governor ended up creating the Fresh Start PAC to bypass the party apparatus.

By the end, Burn was left alone and the party faltered while Wolf triumphed (and McGinty became his Chief of Staff).

Now, with last year behind him and a presidential convention on deck, Burn is indicating he may step down.

Wolf has already reached out to party leaders like Bob Brady in the hopes of rallying support behind Montgomery County Chair Marcel Groen.

Given the amount of turmoil this rivalry has caused, we felt it would be the perfect subject for our next reader survey. So we’re asking you, should Jim Burn stay or should he go?

Should Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn resign?


  • No (74%)
  • Yes (26%)

Total Voters: 1,998

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34 Responses

  1. Bad Chair, Apparently you don’t know anything about political party campaign expense reports to know that most of the donations aren’t filed with the Dept of State. They are filed with the FEC as Federal funds, not non-federal funds. As of April 30, 2015, the PA Dems under Chairman Jim Burn had $386,458.38 in their federal account and another $36,000 in their non-federal account. That is nearly 3 times what the balance was in 2011 and more than $80,000 more than the same time period in 2007. Get your facts straight!

  2. With Tom Wolf’s poll numbers sinking rapidly by the day, maybe HE is the one who should resign, or at least maybe he should pay attention to his job of running the state, instead of playing around in politics and trying to undercut the properly elected choice of his party’s State Committee as their Chair.

    Are we looking at the next One Term Tom?

  3. Watcher/Jackb1977, Isenhour/Fitzgerald/Wolf/Rendell/Rooney/Dermody, same team.
    Nobody gets/got hired to HDCC without Mary’s approval.
    Who does Mary’s husband work for? Who did the disastrous ES lodge with when he moved from Pit to Hburg? Failure is an orphan, but his mommy is Mary.

  4. Jackb1977 is absolutely correct. Blame Fitz and Dermody for the disaster that was ES at HDCC. They (and no one else) are 1000% responsible for foisting that choice on the world.

  5. Jim Burn knows how to kiss the asses of State Committee members. That’s the only reason he’s still chair. The people who actually do things see him for what he really is, a self-centered jerk.

  6. Marcellina, The former HDCC exec director wasn’t an Isenhour push, but Rich Fitzgerald/Dermody pick. I think we can all agree that was a disaster, but point in the right direction when laying blame for that one.

  7. I believe that Jim will do what he has to and the Democratic State Committee will vote after Jim makes his decision in his own time. He is the elected chair.
    That being said the State Committee should never be only a campaign mechanism at the beholding of the money and power people. We must represent the will of the people to have a strong political base that actually will come out and vote. That will reduce the need for advertising of individual candidates and allow us to again become a political party instead of a paper tiger based on other peoples money instead of the peoples needs.
    Yes, it could be that I am a dreamer but the election of Jim Burn proved I am not the only one.
    I believe that Marcel and anyone has a right to run and that we shouldn’t be playing this issue as if it was a sporting game. We must have a candidate who the members vote for and we members will stand for election next time based on our decisions.
    Nor, should we believe that this game about who leads the party will have any effect on the elections if this party doesn’t really speak to the people by rebuilding our own basis for being.
    I will only vote when we see who the candidates are (if Jim really leaves) and how they will allow this party to rebuild past this ego focus on who instead of WHY we should support a chair or the candidates we put forth to elect to office.
    Whoever started this ego match should rot in hell.

  8. The “excellent staff” Burn inherited were beholden to Mary Isenhour and T.J. Rooney and were extremely overpaid for work just a few months out of the year with all inclusive paid trips. Many times after election cycles were not even in the office most of the time. I was appalled to find out what some of these salaries were. Please do check the charges from that time. Burns mistake was keeping these people after he won.
    Kevin Washo was never intended to stay there as he worked for Bob Casey. Previous hirings of staff were never the choice of the Chair or the committee but who they were told to hire by the candidates running.
    Jim Burn has never been a career politician, never made any money in Politics and has never received any Perks. Why was Katie McGinty, the chair of Fresh Start never held accountable for the losses in the house and Senate? Do you really believe that Katie McGinty was responsible for Tom Wolf being elected? It would have been anyone other than Corbett, Wolf was going to win ONLY because Corbett was so bad. Why wouldn’t Katie focus on those House and Senate seats instead of the shoe-in? So, if she were Chair the outcome would have been different?
    Burn never threatened me or other committee members to vote in his favor. Wolf, Mary Isenhour, Rendell and others threatened and lied to many (about a deal) to line up votes for McGinty.
    As far as Allegheny County goes it’s in shambles NOW . I really don’t know why we have a chairwoman when bully Fitzgerald tells her what to do and she does it. Nancy raised controller endorsements to $8,000 knowing Chelsa Wagner didn’t have money, knowing full well Rich Fitzgerald blocked Chelsa from receiving any money and look at how that turned out.
    I rarely see Nancy Mills on TV and when I do it’s embarrassing. Fitzgerald said in the paper he would stay out of the District 11 selection but he’ll pull the strings for his puppet Nancy to do his dirty work.
    You’re only good to these people if they can control you. Yes, lets condemn Jim Burn for letting people have their own minds.

  9. It’s amazing how much time Marcel has on his hands to spin bile against Jim Burn. They blame him for having no money. It’s like the British blaming the Irish for the potato famine. Ed Rendell and his minions starved Burn and the state party for Jim’s refusal to go quietly into that good night. But Burn is surviving without their heavy-handed mafioso tactics by hiring competent people who, you know, actually care about the Democratic Party, instead of the hacks and hangers-ons who are out for a paycheck, like the former HDCC Exec Director who oversaw the decimation of the State House – a TeamIsenhour appointee.

  10. David,
    The reason that the GOP has $ is because they run a professional operation. Burn inherited an excellent staff when he became chair, but they mostly left after 2011. Jim never replaced them and things collapsed. That is my main concern with Burn. He does the easy things like showing up to events and press releases hitting Corbett. Building and maintaining a functioning state party takes time, hard work and real dedication to fundraising. He hasn’t shown that to me at all.

  11. @David– that’s a baseless conspiracy theory. Neither McGinty nor Wolf attacked ANYONE during the debates. Wolf and McGinty served in the cabinet together, and after the primary when Wolf was looking for someone to chair the political operation he reached out to her. Why does everything have to be nefarious with you?

  12. Watcher-

    Thanks for the clarification.

    However, since Isenhour and Rooney were business partners, and how cozy Wolf and McGinty were on the campaign trail, debates, and post election, it sure seems like a distinction without a difference.

    The same partnership representing two rival candidates?

    Once Wolf took the lead, it seemed a bit like McGinty was part of his campaign team. I don’t recall them attacking each other during the debates. Given the quick push to put her in charge of state committee, indicates likely collusion before the primary.

    Regarding state chairmanship, the most often repeated story I’ve heard (against Burn) was that he was offered the deal that McGinty would be chair until the election (5 months), and then give the seat back to Burn when she became chief of staff. So, he was criticized for passing up a simple deal. But, this deal also means that Wolf had picked McGinty well in advance of the state committee vote (ie during the primary).

    I’m just saying that this is very convenient and a heck of a coincidence (or was carefully planned). You decide.

  13. People blaming Jim Burn for the losses in the State House and Senate are incredibly misguided, plain and simple. Those losses can be traced directly back to the Leadership and their “campaign organizations.”

  14. Jackb1977-

    It’s unclear whether McGinty being chair a year ago, or one of Burn’s other two competitors in 2010 would have done any better. A lot of the outcomes depend on the fact that the GOP has money and runs candidates and has gerrymandered the crap out of the state.

    Bram R-

    If Burn is bad, then the R’s should be voting for him to stay.

    Marcellina-
    Mary (and I think Rooney) were part of Wolf’s election team back when Wolf was trailing the other candidates. So, they were successful with Wolf. I’ve heard mixed reviews on Rooney, but never had any interaction with him myself to form an opinion either way.

  15. I suppose Republicans also get to vote in this poll, whether to sabotage or out of schadenfreude.

  16. Chairman Burn is a quitter, He stepped down from being chair of Allegheny County after he left the party in shambles. Then he stepped away from Allegheny County and did not support in any great extent the Democrat that ran for his seat. The State Party is a joke. The House and Senate are firmly held by the Republicans.
    Real As the nation focuses on Pennsylvania for 2016 convention. We can not afford to have a State Party that has to have keep the door open fund-raisers. This time we need you to step down now.

  17. Maybe it’s time to have a full audit on the Pennsylvania Democrat Party books. Where is the money? What are all the credit card bills for?

  18. According to the Department of State website The Pennsylvanian Democratic Party has $9,905.84 in the bank…. Pretty sad leadership.

  19. Calling on all Democrats, please mail Jim Burn $1.00. He wants paid to leave, hell lets pay him.
    Blackmail at its worst. You should hang your head in shame Mr. Burn.

  20. I see Mr. Burn has been busy today voting yes over and over again. I am sure the Republican Party has been hitting the Yes button over and over again as well. Democrats want him to leave, Republicans want him to stay!!! After all Mr. Burn and his Narcissistic ways will insure another victory for them. Please leave, and take your 10 fruit cakes with you. Let the party heal and move forward.

  21. Yes, a thousand times, Yes! What have the Dems WON under this guy? Nothing. So he knows how to schmooze and remember names – that does NOT equate to getting voters to the polls and getting good candidates to run! Groen is no great shakes either, but Burns is a disaster. PA has the least effective state Dem party of any purple state – and by registration, we should be a deep BLUE state.

  22. I’m on record as being pretty unimpressed with the way Marcel Groen has run the Montco Democratic organization, and I use the word “organization” in its loosest possible meaning. For many years under Marcel, county Dems were anything but organized. I think their recent victories are result of demographics rather than strategy and that Marcel has had very little to do with any of it. He lost me a long way back when he ranted and scorned Howard Dean’s DNC leadership and when county Dems kicked Joe Hoeffel to curb to clear the way for Josh Shapiro.

    But even with all that, I’d like to see what Marcel could do on a statewide level. I think he might succeed where others have failed to bring some unity to PA Dems, something this party sorely needs. I hope it happens.

  23. That he knows the committee people’s names is all well and good but, he should be judged on election wins and loses. With that, his ledger tilts pretty far into the L column. I’m not advocating for Groen here. I just don’t want Burn to continue to be the captain of this sinking ship.

  24. State Committee Observer seems to be the same buffoon who posted under other “Observer” names. It’s only logical to assume that this person is none other than the previous chair of the party, whats-his-name Rooney. I wouldn’t know, as a state committee member for 8 years, I never met him. Neither did most other elected members of the party. Why? Because taking orders from Ed Rendell, and keeping Mary Isenhour employed, was his only job. That’s the kind of leadership we’d expect under a hand-picked puppet of the Wolfdell regime. Jim Burn, on the other hand? He not only knows his committee well, by name, in person to 67 states, he is responsive to our issues and our candidates. That’s why he’ll remain chair as long as he wants to – he has the confidence of the rank-and-file.

  25. State Committee Observer-

    What if there is a vote, and it’s for him to stay? What then?

  26. Burn is egocentric … appearing to believe he is the State Party … most unbiased observers know that any gains during his Chairmanship were in spite of him. It appears that the last year has been what amounts to a yearlong hostage crisis and negotiation – the Committee has been hostage to Burn’s desire to find a face-saving way to get out. At this point, if he won’t leave, vote him out! His refusal to leave before this past weekend now ensures the drama will play on through the summer, which cannot be helpful to the November Elections … Selfish to the end, Jim!

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