Who are the Best County Chairs in PA?

It takes a special man or woman to be a good county chairman. They must to be savvy and hard-working. They have to be skilled fundraisers. They need to prevent factionalization within the party. And perhaps most importantly, they have to deliver votes.

Across Pennsylvania, we have county chairs of all types. Some are activists, some fundraisers, and still others are behind-the-scenes players. Some are working to build a strong party organization where there hasn’t been one before.

PoliticsPA wants to hear from you. Who are the best of the best county chairs in PA, Democrat and Republican?

Submit your suggestions by emailing Sy, post it on Sy’s facebook page, tweeting @PoliticsPA, or just commenting below. Be sure to include the chairman’s full name, their party, their county, and a few reasons why you think he or she is the best in the state.

PoliticsPA will unveil our list after each party’s state committee proceedings are complete.

A little food for thought for those politicos heading to State Committee meetings this weekend and next.

February 2nd, 2011 | Posted in Features, Front Page Stories, Harrisburg | 45 Comments

45 thoughts on “Who are the Best County Chairs in PA?”

  1. Jeremy Morgan says:

    How many years was Cliff Wilson, Delco Democratic Chairman recognized as the worst Dem county in Pennsylvania?

  2. Sandra Slavick says:

    I nominate Vince DeMelfi from Columbia County. His leadership has resulted in increased participation in the Democratic Committee and helped recruit more volunteers. Under his tutelage more people have been utilized for their expertise and his encouragement of potential candidates is remarkable. Instead of asking “why” or “how” when a suggestion has been given as a fundraiser or activity, Vince says “why not” and “let’s brainstorm to see how”. I truly feel proud to be a part of the Columbia County Democrats under his leadership.

  3. John Fennell says:

    I too feel that Marcel Groen is one of the best Party Chairs. His work in Montco Commish race highlights his ability to work within his committee to create a cohesive party that will have one of its best chances in years of winning a majority in the Montco Courthouse.

    At the same time I do not think that the work done by Michelle Vaughn in Chesco should be overlooked. The successes she has seen in Chesco in the face a more difficult political climate is a credit to Michelle as a person and as Chair. Her hard work at cultivating political talent in and around her county benefits all of SEPA. Any attacks on her character are made from the anonymity of the classless, useless and uninformed. If those same people had gotten off the sofa and volunteered this past cycle those losses they complain about would not be an issue today.

  4. Don Carter says:

    Look at the GOP results in Luzerne County this past election and you will see the accomplishments of Terry Casey. For those of us who have witnessed the Republican reform in Luzerne County, we are indebted to Terry Casey for his efforts in achieving the unification of our Party. His leadership and get-it-done attitude have provided us with GOP-positive election results for the first time in decades. Mr. Casey is my nominee for the best county chairperson in Pennsylvania.

  5. Jean Davidson says:

    David Landau took over Delco in June and shortly there after He discovered a $9000 debt not payed by the privious administration. Within 1 week we were almost evicted from our office and the power was being turned off. David held a very successful fundraser, rasing over $20,000 in contributions to keep Delco afloat and efven hire an ED.Koodos to a strong leader who can get us throough tough times. I vote for David Landau – Chairman – Delco Dems.

  6. Michael J. Calderone says:

    I nominate Mr A.C. “Peck” Foster, Republican Chair, York County, Pennsylvania.

    With a deep familarity to politics, I became deeply impressed with the way he moves about OUR county, and his support for us ALL!!! He seems not to play any favorites (as he should not! Nor, should anyone else!!!). I became acutely aware of this relatively quickly upon meeting such a warm person.

    He also knows how to work the room. You can tell he is looking for the “best” in candidates. Something a Chairman/woman ought to be doing.

    I also must comment: I sincerely love the way he keeps stressing to us that the role of the County Chair should not be to endorse or nominate! Thanks for also, not picking or choosing who YOU want to be Governor, Twp. Supervisor, Borough Councilman, or Mayor, or County Commissioner.

    Keep up the great work, Peck!

    Hon. Michael J. Calderone, (R)
    former Member of Hanover Borough Council
    Hanover, PA 17331 USA

  7. Joe says:

    I agree with Nick about Harry Fawkes, and I especially agree concerning Patrick Poprik. What a sad state for Bucks County Republicans if Poprik becomes chair, it is certainly bad enough currently.

  8. Brian says:

    Ed Kleha, Schuylkill County Democratic County Chair

    When Ed took over the Dem party the Republicans held a 10K plus voter registration edge, and we held very few elected offices. The voter registration edge is down to around 3K and we control the Court house, one state house seat and our Congressional seat. The 29th Senate seat currently held by the Rep’s will fall in the next election after being exposed in the last Congressional race, the future is bright under Ed’s leadership.

  9. MaryAnn Good says:

    As a member of the Chester Co Democratic Committee, I have worked with Michele Vaughn,Chester Co’s Democratic Chairperson, for many years and have witnessed her ability to mobilize the troops to get the many jobs done. I do feel she is by far one of the hardest working democrats in the Co. She deserves to be on the Team of Best County Chairs in the State of Pennsylvania.
    It does take a Team to make things happen and she is the best leader that can bring it
    together. The records shows it in Chester Co.
    I can say this coming from a long line of Great Democratic Women Chairpersons. Michele Vaughn holds the present title now and has earned the title of Best County Chair of Pa.
    MaryAnn Good
    Chester Co

  10. Ted says:

    Schuylkill County Chairman Ed Klea took the reigns of the party when Democrats were an endangered species, outside of the City of Pottsville. A registration edge of at least 14,000 was enjoyed by the Republicans. Despite that, under Ed Klea’s leadership the tide was turned. The registration edge is now only about 3,000 and despite being out numbered, the Democrats took back the majority of County Commissioners (1st time in 37 years) and all but 2 row offices. Congressman Tim Holden has again been retained and Tim Seip held an overwhelming Republican registered district in the state house for 2 terms. Great job Ed Klea.

  11. Tim Evans says:

    Terry Casey, Chairman of the Luzerne County GOP is my choice for the Best County Chairman.

    The Luzerne County Republican Party was in a stale and fragmented state. Terry Casey recognized the Party needed help to get this turned around. New ideas, leadership, candidates, strategy and registrations became part of his primary concerns.

    Terry Casey shouldered the responsibility to “bring together” the different districts. His efforts included; acquiring a centralized headquarters, hiring an outstanding Executive Director, Renita Fennick, organizing monthly meetings with all districts, successful registration drives and the continuing efforts to fill many empty committee seats.

    I feel Terry Casey should be recognized as the Best County Chairman because he has demonstrated a strong commitment to our Party and exhibits continuing efforts to make Luzerne County a Standard Bearer in the State of Pennsylvania.

    Terry is a definite “standout” among other leaders in our state.

    Terry Casey has shown through his diligence that the Republican Party in Pennsylvania is very much alive in Luzerne County.

    I respectfully submit the name Terry Casey for consideration.

    Tim Evans

  12. Ron Boltz says:

    I nominate Joe Stearns, Schuylkill County Republican Chairman.

    Mr. Stearns is a true values-oriented conservative who is working hard to put together the pieces of a broken Republican party in Schuylkill County. He has worked hard to reverse the disenfranchisement of the voters by making it much more difficult for the Republican party to endorse a candidate before the primary. Under Joe’s leadership, the by-laws have been changed to decentralize power away from the Chairman in favor of spreading the power among the committee people who represent their constituents. These changes will put the party back on track and bring back the voters who fled the GOP as the Republican party shifted away from it’s core values.

  13. Student says:

    Rob Gleason, the current State Republican Chair is not only a State Republican Chair but a county chair as well. He is currently serving as the Cambria County Chair as well. He is a proven leader that has lead his own county as well as the state to victory. Cambria county a deep Democratic state in Western PA went Republican is all of the state wide office. Pat Toomey won the county as well as Governor Tom Corbett who overwhelming took the county. Also Jim Rigby can very close to upsetting his Democratic opponent. Under his leadership, he understands the necessity of fundraising and how critical fundraising is to winning elections. Therefore, I throughly nominate Chairman Rob Gleason of Cambria County to the best County Chair in the Commonwealth.

  14. Adam Thomas says:

    I nominate Michele Vaughn of Chester County. In 2005 after winning by just 2 votes, Michele reached out, repaired relationships, forged coalitions and with a commitment to leadership Michele was re-elected by a wide margin in 2009 in this key swing suburban county.

    By growing the committee person base, exercising a commitment to training and building a field program Michele has constructed a Democratic organization that has closed a significant registration gap and has developed a path to victory that demonstrates that Democrats up and down the ticket can win in this former Republican stronghold. The Chester County Democratic Committee is poised for victory today because of the leadership and tenacity of Michele Vaughn.

  15. Mary Ellen says:

    I can tell you who it is not and that’s George Vittech of Washington County. Yes, George and his officers have a picnic and one banquet. He has two meetings a year- one as an endorsement in the Spring and one in the fall to get camopaign literature. He has had campaign literature delivered and left in doorways that could be picked up by anyone. He is only interested in getting money. The by-laws have not been updated and he even called a picnic that was open to the public a meeting. The county needs new leadership

  16. Rex says:

    Hmm, Lidia Bruce makes a very negative argument with nothing of her own to ad. It’s very interesting, because according to Votebuilder no one named Lidia Bruce is registered to vote in Pennsylvania. How classy.

  17. I nominate Michelle Vaughn, Democrat, of Chester County. She helped recruit a great stable of candidates in a tough election year. A chairperson should be judged by the quality of their character and that of the candidates they they can put on the ballot. With the leadership she has to the table the party has grown and will flourish. If the number of postings for her so far are any evidence she has got the support of a lot of local people who are still ready and able for another election cycle.

    On a more personal note. To Lidia Bruce, please keep on hating. That’s your job as a hater, to hate. Voices like yours keeps us focused and assures us that we are on the right path. Because if people are throwing mindless insults at you, you must not be doing a good enough job, REAL TALK!

  18. Adam J says:

    Marcel Groen, Montgomery County. Marcel is a Chairman that does what is right for the Democratic party-not what is right for him. Service before self. That’s what makes him a true leader.

  19. Lidia Bruce says:

    I see a few individuals are mistaken and confused by what this article is asking. To clarify, the article is asking for the best county chair, not the worst county chair. Michelle Vaughn is by far the WORST county chair. Ugly, brittle, and obtuse are words used to describe Michelle, not great, organized, or cohesive. The hard working Democratic candidates got slaughtered this last election cycle due to Michelle’s lack of focus, expertise, and intelligence.

  20. Nick says:

    Harry Fawkes has been the best County Party Chairman in the history of Pennsylvania. No one has dominated county politics like Chairman Fawkes. While his health is declining, he is still the county chair and I would like to nominate him. Look at the similarities in Bucks and Montco in voting registrations. Now look at the differences in R’s and D’s. Bucks has stayed Republican because of Harry.

    Unfortunately, in the same comment, I have to say that Vice Chair Pat Poprik is the worst chair in the state. God help the Republican party in Bucks if she becomes chair.

  21. Ron Turner says:

    I nominate Michelle Vaughn, Democrat, of Chester County. She supports the rank and file, gives excellent training, builds morale during good times and bad, and advances good policy. Under her leadership the party has become stronger, more well organized and cohesive. She makes people feel good about working together and making a difference for our county and our country.

  22. Dan Gabor says:

    I nominate Michele Vaughn.

    As lifelong Democrat and southeastern Pennsylvanian, Chester County Chairwoman Michele Vaughn got involved in politics because she saw the good that can come out of people working together and participating in elections for a common purpose. As a successful committeeperson and the first woman elected as Township Supervisor in East Whiteland, Michele was asked to step up to be the Vice Chair of CCDC. As Vice Chair, Michele worked with committee people, zone leaders and district leaders throughout the county to get organized and get Democrats elected. In her 6 years as Vice Chair and especially during her 5 past years as our Chair, CCDC has not only had several victories in state and federal races, but we have begun to pick up majorities in township boards and borough and city councils, which has begun to chip away at the GOP’s stranglehold on county and municipal government.

    In a difficult climate for Democrats like Chester County, it takes a strong leader to keep moving forward. Michele is that leader.

  23. Eddy Foster says:

    To be a great county chair, one has to keep many balls in the air at the same time. I think the best chair is Michele Vaughn, of the Chester County Democratic Party. Times have been tough for Democrats in Chesco, but if it was not for her they would have never been good to begin with. Under her tenure, the party has elected more state reps than ever before, and has brought the once-dominant Chester County GOP under 50% of registration. She has built the party out of a rag-tag group of armchair activists into the modern, professional, successful party it is today. While there have been some setbacks, the long-term transition of Chesco into a Democratic Stronghold is all but assured, in no small part because of Michele Vaughn.

  24. Tom Houghton says:

    I nominate Michelle Vaughn of Chester County. Since I first ran for elected office ten years ago, I’ve witnessed Michelle’s tireless efforts to help get democrats elected here in heavily republican Chester County. Despite the national wave that swept many of us out of office this past November, Michelle has been instrumental in keeping our morale’ up. Her leadership style will be key for any democrats in our county who may want to get involved and are considering a run for elected office. As a former elected official, Michelle knows what it takes to win. She also knows that supporting good policy is the key to getting the support of the voters.

  25. Sean Kilkenny says:

    I nominate Marcel Groen of Montgomery County. When Marcel took over in 1993, we had Larry Curry in the General Assembly now we have Josh Shapiro, Mike Gerber, Tim Briggs, Matt Bradford, Brendan Boyle, and Pam DeLissio. More than that he has shown great leadership in cultivating the Shapiro-Richards ticket for County Commissioner which is poised to take the Courthouse.

  26. Anne Burns says:

    I nominate Michele Vaughn, Chester County Democratic Committee’s Chair. She is smart, diligent, well-informed, and the party has grown significantly under her leadership. Chester County is lucky to have her.

  27. The Best County Chair – that’s an easy one: Michele Vaughn, Democratic Chairperson of Chester County. Michele has a unique blend of tenacity, innovation, integrity, street smarts, and emotional intelligence. She has worked tirelessly on behalf of our party and has enabled all of us ordinary folks achieve extraordinary goals together.

  28. Jesse Walker says:

    I think the best county chair is:

    Ron Fairman, Indiana County. Ron and the crew from Indiana County are a true asset to the Democratic Party and have alot of positive energy.

  29. William St Cyr says:

    I nominate Bob Kerns of Montgomery County’s GOP. Not only is he a great gentleman, he’s done as good a job as any at keeping that nest of vipers under control.

    My own GOP county chair is Chester County’s Skip Brion who is a giant douche.

  30. George C Jr says:

    I nominate Terry Casey from Luzerne County GOP County Chair.
    He has done more to re-invigorate the Republican party than anyone else in the last 20 years… At least we are now moving towards somewhat of a balance in what is traditionally a very lopsided government.

  31. Amy F. says:

    I second the nomination of Marcel Groen. Here in MontCo, he’s done a great job of handling some tricky situations. As a committeeperson, I’m happy to have him as our chair. Under his leadership, our county party has become one of the most organized in the state.

  32. Jeff Bowser says:

    I’d nominate Mike Baker, Republican, of Armstrong County. Despite being from a small county, Baker carries a lot of weight in the PAGOP. (He’s a big guy, so no pun intended) Becoming chairman four 4 years ago at age 25, you’d swear he is an old school party boss twice his age.

    He has a huge rolodex (or blackberry) of people that he has deep relationships in republican circles from legislators, staffers, to donors. Local tea party forces made a fierce challenge to his leadership, labeling him an insider and Gleason lackey last year. He was reelected county chair by 2 to 1 margin. As 2010 went on, he earned the trust of some of his most ardent foes. They are now counted among his most loyal supporters.

    When it comes to elections, Mike under promises and over delivers every time. He works to push out every possible republican vote to support the ticket. It shows when the statewide candidates get huge margins. Kelly and Burns noticed their biggest wins by county from Armstrong.

    Coming from a natural gas and oil business, Mike has no problem raising money for his party and has no problem cutting checks himself.

    Not a limelight seeker, Baker is the first person to give credit to everybody else involved. You won’t find him at head tables often. Instead he’ll be in the back of the room working behind the scenes. Congressman English once remarked, “Have you ever seen Baker work a room? It’s like watching a shark, he has to keep moving or else he’ll stop breathing”.

    Many GOPers may not know where Armstrong County is but they do know Baker.

  33. John Barone says:

    Marcel Groen Is the Worst County Chair He only benifited by Having a Ton of democrats Move into Motgomery County He is a Double agent in My Opinion I think he did a deal With Convicted felon Bob Asher

  34. Valerie Kean Staab says:

    Marcel L. Groen – Montgomery County – Democratic Party
    Marcel is by far the best Chairman of any county in the Commonwealth. He has built a county committee that year after year has overwhelming delivered votes to the Democratic candidates of every level of state, county, and local elections. He and his team have taken a county that was down by over 100,000 voters and turned it around to now be the majority party by over 30,000 voters. He responds and reaches out to any county across the Commonwealth that requests his assistance in helping to build their county. Marcel and his County are the shinning star for all Democrats to follow in his foot steps. He has earned the title of Top Chairman.

  35. Please accept this nomination for Luzerne County GOP: Terry Casey. Never before has the Luzerne County Republican Party needed leadership and direction so desperately. Over the years, I have come to know Terry Casey to envision a positive direction and demonstrate a keen understanding on how to accomplish this task.
    Like General George S Patton, he is the right guy, in the right place at precisely the right moment to save a Republican movement that is currently scattered and ineffective.

  36. Jody Cordaro says:

    I nominate Terry Casey, Chairman of the Luzerne County GOP, as my choice for the best County Chairman.

    Terry Casey is honest, hardworking and is filled with integrity. He excels in his position as Luzerne County Repulican Party Chairman and I respectfully submit his name for consideration.

  37. Bonnie Keefer says:

    I nominate Mike Fix of Fulton County as the best Republican Chairman. Under his leadership, the voter registration margin increased, and Fulton County consistently had high percentage turn-outs on election days. He is an activist and keeps committee members informed on the issues and urges them to contact their elected officials to voice support or opposition to pending issues. He works well with everyone in the local party and is respected by his peers at Republican State Committee. He attends events in neighboring counties and has built a network of support which extends beyond our County borders. He is hardworking, honest, intelligent, and sincere. They don’t come any better than that!

  38. Charlie Pont says:

    Vito Canuso
    With The Demographics in Philadelphia it is amazing that any type of Republican Organization Exists in that County at all. The people seeking to replace him with the exception of Joe DeFelice are all from Wards where the the Republican Party is out registered 7 to 1 and the total general election vote are usually worse than that. Vito Canuso is a miracle worker if it were not for Philadelphia would worse than Chicago

  39. Old School R says:

    Terry Casey, Chairman of the Luzerne County GOP is my choice for the best County Chairman

    The Luzerne County Republican Party lacked inteligent leadership, had no strategy, couldn’t raise money, regularly supported Democrats, and the leaders spent most of their time infighting. They fought each other to be quarterback of a losing team. The bottomn line is that the old leadership was totally ineffective and had a very difficult time fielding any serious candidates. The real movers and shakers in Luzerne County steered clear of this peculiar bunch and concentrated on Federal Elections. It became very clear that until one of these “movers and shakers” became County Chair, the party would continue to flounder.
    A movement began to elect Terry Casey. Terry’s election brought a ray of hope. He raised lots of money, secured a high profile office and hired an amazing Executive Director, Renita Fennick. Since Terry was elected, we have had an annual Lincoln Day Dinner. The first featured guest was Karl Rove. Over 600 people attended. The next year it was Tom Ridge who sold out over 500 seats to fill capcity in the room. When Terry took over there were only 125 of the 396 committee seats filled. Today there are more than 320 of the 396 seats filled.
    One of many examples of success at the ballot box are straight party votes in the last election. The numbers between Democrats and Republicans were were almost dead even at around 15,000 votes for each. This less than 1% differential was an amazing feat in a county where Democrats out register Republicans by 9 to 5.
    I hope that others appreciate the hard work of many that has been orchestrated by Mr. Casey and will make the effort nominate him as well. I will leave you with a quote from Karl Rove at a State Party luncheon in New York City during the Pennsylvania Society weekend in 2009. “If you think Republican Politics is dead, all one has to do is look to Luzerne County. The old leadership there couldn’t muster 60 people in a room. The new leadership brought out over 600 energetic Republicans, raised a ton of money and had a very successful event”

    Terry Casey has done a excellent job as Luzerne County Repulican Party Chairman. I respectfully submit his name for consideration.

  40. Billy Mc says:

    Jessie Bloom, Lycoming County Democratic Chair. Just a warm person who gets the job done and never complains.

  41. Joe Sterns as GOP Chairman in Schuylkill County has brought a fresh and invigorated approach in contrast to the previous administration.
    Endorsements are no longer assumed, polling places are now covered and most importantly, there is a “can do” attitude in place. The Party is active and visible and ready to make inroads in this year’s local elections.

  42. Chris Reed says:

    Joe Sterns, GOP Chairman, Schuylkill County

    Joe is a bright,articulate,principled conservative. He is leading the Schuylkill GOP back to prominence through hard work and dedication to the conservative cause. Through Joe’s capable leadership the Schuylkill GOP got back a seat in the State House in 2010 and will win back the Courthouse in 2011.

  43. Leo Knepper says:

    Joe Sterns of Schuylkill County he fought to change the Republican County Committee by-laws and decentralized authority and made it more difficult for the Committee to interfere with primary elections.

  44. Lynn Homer says:

    Hi. My name is Lynn Homer and I am have been active in Pike County politics for over a decade. Last year Pike County GOP elected a new chairma Christopher Decker who has been the most amazing asset to our townships, County and Party.
    He was instrumental in the successful numbers that came of our Pike COunty for the Republicans on a state level by working closely with each of the municipalities. He developed a new website and has inspired many voters to get involved in local government. His fundraising has been over and beyond in Pike County with his organizational skills.
    I nominate Christopher P. Decker , chairman of Pike County Republican Committee.
    Thank you

  45. John says:

    I nominate Vince DeMelfi of Columbia County. His leadership skills and personality were a great aide to the Democratic Party and the Candidates of the area!

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