Wagner Floats RNC Challenge Against Asher
A fight is brewing for the position of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party National Committeeman.
Bob Asher, who was unanimously reelected to the role along with Christine Toretti in May 2016, has filled the role since 1998, but a GOP source tells PoliticsPA that former state Senator and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner is considering a run for the position.
In an email to state Republican committee members on Nov. 18, Wagner shot out an email tiled, the “Asher Agenda” accusing the longtime national committeeman of orchestrating “dirty politics” within the state party, while the focus should remain on defending President Donald Trump during the impeachment hearings.
“The purpose of my email to you is to inform you that dirty politics continue within our party, orchestrated by none other than Bob Asher,” the email penned by Wagner begins.
Wagner accuses Asher of furthering his own agenda by “pressuring” the GOP Congressional delegation to sign a letter of support for his reelection, set for May 30, 2020, as opposed to having their attention on impeachment.
Wagner continues in the email to say that Asher, 82, is telling GOP state committee members that he is running unopposed for national committeeman again, but claims that will not be the case.
“Worse yet, he is falsely informing our delegation that he’s running unopposed — a clear effort to secure their support prematurely,” Wagner writes in the email. “I can assure all of you that Bob Asher is going to have very stiff competition in May.”
PoliticsPA is seeking comment from both Asher and Wagner on this email.
This email to state committee members is not the first time that Wagner has aired grievances out about Asher. During the recent race for state party chair in the summer between Lawrence Tabas and Bernie Comfort, Wagner emailed committee members accusing Asher of undermining his gubernatorial run against Wolf and that “Mr. Asher’s politics have left our party bitterly fractured and highly dysfunctional.”
Asher, along with other Trump allies, endorsed Comfort in the race to succeed Val DiGiorgio.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in July 2018 that “Wagner’s relationship with Robert Asher, the prolific Republican fundraiser from Montgomery County, is strained, according to multiple GOP sources.”
In the Nov. 18 email, Wagner continues to say that Asher hosted a fundraiser for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in Philadelphia, saying he was doing so, “just in case the Democrats are successful in impeaching or weakening our President.” Wagner makes this claim although Asher, known for his fundraising, is the chair for Trump’s finance committee in eastern PA.
Wagner also claimed that the contributions from the fundraiser for the Rubio event in Philadelphia were going to the Florida Republican Party, not the Pennsylvania GOP, which Asher has denied.
Wagner ends the email by urging GOP state committee members to keep their focus on supporting Trump and not pledge support for Asher for national committeeman.
“I am asking all of you to immediately reach out to your Congressman and tell them to focus on defending the President,” Wagner writes in the email.
“Tell them they should not sign the Asher letter or be manipulated into influencing a party election that will not take place until May of 2020,” Wagner continues. “At this critical moment in American history, it is imperative that our Pennsylvania Congressional delegation commit their full energies and attention to defending the President and our country.”
Asher seemingly fired back in an email to GOP state committee members about this, although he does not mention Wagner by name, in an attempt to reassure members he is working hard to help keep Pennsylvania in the win column for Trump and denies some of the claims Wagner made in the process.
Asher leads the email by saying that due to his role of being the Trump Finance Committee Chairman for Eastern Pennsylvania, he is tasked with raising “at least five million dollars through events or direct contributions” to the campaign and that they are “making steady progress towards this goal.”
He continues to say that he is committed to the Trump re-election effort and will not be “distracted” in this time and will “not engage in any discourse that will deter” himself or the party of winning in 2020.
“I have pledged to the Trump campaign that I am totally focused on re-electing the President in 2020,” Asher writes in the email. “I have also made it very clear that I will not be distracted by anyone who wishes to pursue any other kind of agenda.”
Asher also addresses the Rubio fundraiser, which he said his political action committee recently held. He said that fundraiser, which Sen. Pat Toomey also lent his name to, was held to ensure that Republicans keep a majority in the Senate, and denied Wagner’s claim that the money was going to the Florida Republican Party.
“As an aside, the money from this event did not go to the Florida Republican Party…despite what some uninformed individuals might say,” Asher writes in the email. “Again, in 2020, my focus is on re-electing President Trump and Vice-President Pence and raising the money necessary to help them Keep America Great by putting Pennsylvania in the win column again next year.”
This story was updated with the email from Asher to Republican state committee members.