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Sitting Lehigh Exec, a Dem, Endorses Republican Ott

Scott Ott
Scott OttI

Lehigh County Executive Matt Croslis, a Democrat, on Thursday endorsed Republican Scott Ott in the race to replace him.

Croslis cited his strong rapport with Ott.

“My goal as County Executive was to be transparent and collaborative in an effort to put people before politics. I believe this approach has been successful in large part because of the working relationship I have developed with Scott Ott,” Croslis wrote in an email to supporters.

“I believe Scott will bring a fresh perspective to Lehigh County and that he will work tirelessly to find new and innovative ways to provide the necessary services of County government in the most cost effective manner. It is my hope that my endorsement will promote bipartisanship and continue to put the interests of the County residents before politics.”

The race for Lehigh County Executive is one of the most interesting in Pennsylvania in 2013 in part because Ott and Muller represent such distinct ideologies.

Ott is an outspoken conservative who would refuse state and federal funding of county programs on principal (i.e. cutting government spending). A current member of County Council, he has earned repeated barbs from liberal commentators. The, “Chinese communist government is fronting us money to feed 85 year old women in Lehigh County,” he reportedly said, defending his opposition to a community block grant.

The Lehigh County Executive’s most important role is in the creation of the county budget. The executive’s administration presents their budget to county council and has immense control over the the use and allocation of block grants. Ott has pledged to use his authority to defund “nonessential programs.”

Muller is the County Director of Administration and served as acting Executive for a few months this year. He became a Democrat only last year, in large part to run against Ott in this race.

The endorsement is worth more for the headlines it will generate than for the logistical support Croslis can offer. The 40-year-old attorney doesn’t have an extensive political network. Indeed, he’s only been in the job a few months after being appointed by county council. Muller’s campaign torched Croslis in its response.

“We would expect this from someone who was appointed to his position by a majority of Tea Party extremists.” Muller campaign manager Mike Fleck told PoliticsPA. “This is pay to play politics at its worst. He obviously owes [the Tea Party] for getting his job.”

Pa. Democratic Chairman Jim Burn offered his support for Muller and zinged Ott.

“Tom Muller is fighting to make Lehigh County a better place to live, work, and raise a family.  His opponent, Scott Ott would fight for his extremist Tea Party buddies, not the majority of Lehigh County.  Lehigh County deserves a strong leader and Tom Muller is that leader,” Burn said.

Former Executive Don Cunningham resigned from the position in July 2012 and was replaced by Bill Hansell – who resigned a month later for health reasons. Next, Muller took the spot. Finally, Matt Croslis was appointed in June 2013.

But as they say, all politics is local. In this case, it was hyperlocal: within the county government building. Croslis worked with Muller for months, but decided to back Ott.

“I’m honored to have the support of Matt Croslis,” Ott said in a press release. “During his time as county executive, we haven’t always agreed, but I could always count on Matt to tell the truth, which made it easy to work together with him to find solutions for the taxpayers we represent. I’ll continue to work to make local government more sustainable, accountable, focused and effective.”

4 Responses

  1. This is why Democrats lose. Do Republicans support Democrats – NO! If ALL the Democrats – and I mean elected Democrats would have supported Dan Onorato, he would be our Governor. Thank you Washington County and Allegheny County for your support of Republicans.

  2. Why is an endorsement given by an appointee to the person who appointed him to his job even a story?

  3. Is Matt Croslis partners with big Democratic attorney Tim Brennan? The same Tim Brennan who threatened that young woman off the ballot? Shady politics as usual in the Valley.

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    Total Voters: 30

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