A tale of two ballrooms — update

There are two contrasting events underway at the Harrisburg Hilton right now.

In one ballroom, members of the State Republican Committee are voting to endorse candidates in the Senate, gubernatorial and lieutenant governor primaries. Most are well-dressed. All are what you’d call party insiders – members of county Republican committees, elected officials, major donors.

They’ve just voted overwhelmingly to endorse Tom Corbett’s campaign, with only a dozen of the 348 voters supporting Sam Rohrer.

But a few paces down the hall, a few hundred people in jeans, boots, field jackets and baseball caps are taking part I Rohrer’s “Mobilize for Liberty” rally. Judging by the signs they were holding in the lobby, the majority of them are against an official party endorsement.  “They want to choose for themselves, and don’t like the fact that kingmakers and power brokers…are trying to force people out of the race before petitions are filed,” is how state Representative Daryl Metcalfe put it.

The State Committee meeting began the morning with a roll call vote on whether or not to offer an endorsement. Members voted by overwhelming margins – 300-47, 297-51 and 213-135, in the Senate, gubernatorial and L-G races, respectively – to go ahead and make official selections.

After the balloting was done, Chairman Rob Gleason warned party members to fall in line behind the endorsed candidates. “Rebelling against our party’s decision may sound romantic, but it will hurt the nominee and the party in the long run,” he said.

That didn’t sit well with Jeff Coleman, who’s running Rohrer’s campaign. He called Gleason’s statement condescending, and said it “reflects a real disrespect and level of arrogance against the grassroots members of the party.”

“What happened in Florida,” Coleman warned, referencing the grassroots movement against Governor Charlie Crist’s Senate campaign, “could very well happen in Pennsylvania.”

UPDATE: The Corbett camp is defending the endorsement process, calling it open and democratic. Campaign manager Brian Nutt said, “the state committee members are elected by Republican voters in their particular counties or districts, and that’s who they represent.”

Corbett agreed with Nutt’s assessment, and suggested the people calling for an open primary may be doing so out of confusion. “Now, I think what we have is many new people who’ve become involved who may not have understood that process,” he said. “And they may have voted for these people in the past and not even know it. So what we have is maybe a new group of people becoming involved and interested in elections. But there is a process. We are a nation of rules, we have rules within our party. What you saw there was the rules being followed.”

About pubradiopolitics
Scott covers state government and politics for Pennsylvania's public radio stations, including WITF in Harrisburg, WHYY in Philadelphia and WDUQ in Pittsburgh.

3 Responses to A tale of two ballrooms — update

  1. Dudley Snyder says:

    The Republicans are correct many new people are involved, and since when do we have a process that says we need to endorse a candidate before the primary.

  2. Pingback: PA GOP endorses Corbett for Gov, Cawley for Lt. Gov, and Toomey for Senate… | GrassrootsPA

  3. J_Cooley says:

    “After the balloting was done, Chairman Rob Gleason warned party members to fall in line behind the endorsed candidates. “Rebelling against our party’s decision may sound romantic, but it will hurt the nominee and the party in the long run,” he said.”

    Yes, it will…and knowing that, the danged fool goes right ahead and ignores all the signs, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence that THE PEOPLE WANT TO CHOOSE FOR THEMSELVES, and goes right ahead and does what he/they (the state party “leaders”) want anyway. That’s just moronic.

    Now we’ll just go about the task of proving him right. If it “hurts the party”–well, GOOD. Maybe the party will learn something from this idiotic mistake.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath, though. These people seem incapable of learning anything at all. If they can’t see THIS writing on the wall, how can they see anything?

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