Montgomery County Dems seek open primary

The Mont­gomery County Demo­crat­ic Com­mit­tee last week voted for an open primary in the 13th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict, which in­cludes most of the North­east.

The Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates are state Sen. Daylin Leach, state Rep. Brendan Boyle, former con­gress­wo­man Mar­jor­ie Mar­gol­ies and Dr. Valer­ie Arkoosh.

Leach, Boyle and Mar­gol­ies ad­dressed the MCDC at the Feb. 25 meet­ing at Co­lo­ni­al Ele­ment­ary School.

Arkoosh was out of town at a med­ic­al con­fer­ence. Her hus­band, Jeff Har­bison, spoke on her be­half. Har­bison poin­ted out that Leach and Mar­gol­ies live in the 7th and 2nd con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts, re­spect­ively.

“Val’s the only one from Mont­gomery County who lives in this dis­trict,” he said.

Boyle, of Somer­ton, spoke of try­ing to pre­serve the Amer­ic­an dream. He urged com­mit­tee mem­bers to read Ted Sorensen’s book Why I Am a Demo­crat.

Boyle, who leads the field in labor uni­on en­dorse­ments, said the Demo­crat­ic Party rep­res­ents is­sues such as wo­men’s rights, fair wages for work­ers and a clean en­vir­on­ment.

Mar­gol­ies de­scribed Wash­ing­ton, D.C., as “broken,” cit­ing failed at­tempts by Re­pub­lic­ans to re­peal Obama­care and the House GOP’s re­fus­al to ad­dress im­mig­ra­tion re­form. When she served in 1993-94, there was ac­tion on ma­jor is­sues such as gun con­trol, fam­ily and med­ic­al leave and Pres­id­ent Bill Clin­ton’s eco­nom­ic plan.

At present, the only wo­man among Pennsylvania’s 20-per­son con­gres­sion­al del­eg­a­tion is Demo­crat­ic Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who is va­cat­ing the 13th dis­trict seat to run for gov­ernor.

Mar­gol­ies urged the com­mit­tee people to re­place a “re­spons­ible, cap­able wo­man with a re­spons­ible, cap­able wo­man.”

Leach was not feel­ing well, but still de­livered his usu­al fiery speech, call­ing Gov. Tom Corbett a “bully.” The crowd ap­plauded when he noted his F rat­ing from the NRA and Corbett’s com­ment that he was his least-fa­vor­ite sen­at­or.

Leach called for im­mig­ra­tion re­form and a hike in the min­im­um wage. He spoke of tak­ing on the “school vouch­er people” and those who fun­ded an ef­fort to “rig the Elect­or­al Col­lege” by try­ing to change the way Pennsylvania awards its elect­or­al votes for pres­id­ent. He sup­ports a frack­ing morator­i­um, and battled the Pennsylvania Cath­ol­ic Con­fer­ence on same-sex mar­riage le­gis­la­tion.

Leach asked com­mit­tee people to send him to D.C. to chal­lenge the Tea Party and re­li­gious ex­trem­ists.

“I’m go­ing to take on the bul­lies there, too,” he said.


Arkoosh last week re­ceived the en­dorse­ment of state Rep. Steve Mc­Carter, of Mont­gomery County.

“I have known and worked with Dr. Val Arkoosh for al­most 10 years. In that time, I wit­nessed her re­lent­less ded­ic­a­tion to im­prov­ing the health and well-be­ing of our com­munit­ies here in great­er Phil­adelphia and throughout our com­mon­wealth, and I’m proud to sup­port her run for Con­gress.” he said. “Val was a fierce ad­voc­ate in Har­ris­burg for ex­pand­ing Medi­caid, which we know would cre­ate jobs and en­sure every­one in Pennsylvania has ac­cess to health care. I’m con­fid­ent in Val’s abil­ity to hit the ground run­ning in Con­gress giv­en the re­la­tion­ships and track re­cord she’s built at the na­tion­al level work­ing with a co­ali­tion of faith, labor and com­munity or­gan­iz­a­tions on the Af­ford­able Care Act.”


Allyson Schwartz and State Treas­urer Rob Mc­Cord, both Mont­gomery County res­id­ents run­ning for the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­a­tion for gov­ernor, ad­dressed the MCDC. Dave Barasch, a Dauph­in County law­yer who ran for at­tor­ney gen­er­al in 2004, spoke on be­half of Tom Wolf.

The MCDC de­clared an open primary for gov­ernor.

Schwartz blas­ted Gov­ernor Corbett for failed lead­er­ship, point­ing to a study that showed Pennsylvania 48th in job cre­ation.

“How did Pennsylvania get to be 48th in any­thing?” she asked. “It’s out­rageous.”

Mc­Cord re­ceived ap­plause when he called on voters to “evict” Corbett.


Schwartz last week re­leased a plan to provide pay equity for Pennsylvania wo­men.

“It is un­ac­cept­able that wo­men in Pennsylvania still aren’t paid equally,” she said. “As gov­ernor, I will hold Har­ris­burg ac­count­able so wo­men earn equal pay, for equal work.”

If elec­ted, Schwartz would in­crease the fines for em­ploy­ers who vi­ol­ate the state’s equal pay law; strengthen pro­tec­tions for em­ploy­ees who file pay equity law­suits; ask busi­nesses to sign an Equal Pay Com­pact; com­mis­sion a re­port that will ex­am­ine the wage gap in Pennsylvania and de­tail ef­forts by busi­nesses to en­sure wo­men are serving in lead­er­ship po­s­i­tions and on boards of dir­ect­ors; and hold state con­tract­ors and com­pan­ies that re­ceive gov­ern­ment sub­sidies ac­count­able for the wages they pay and their per­form­ance on equal pay for equal work.


Mean­while, Schwartz was en­dorsed by Planned Par­ent­hood Pennsylvania Polit­ic­al Ac­tion Com­mit­tee.

“Allyson has a dis­tin­guished re­cord ad­voc­at­ing for wo­men’s health and eco­nom­ic se­cur­ity and will be a strong ally in the gov­ernor’s of­fice,” said Sari Stevens, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the PAC.

Schwartz foun­ded the Eliza­beth Black­well Health Cen­ter that provided com­pre­hens­ive health care ser­vices, in­clud­ing abor­tions, for wo­men.


Schwartz is a dis­tant second to Tom Wolf, a wealthy York County busi­ness­man and former sec­ret­ary of the state De­part­ment of Rev­en­ue, in two polls re­leased last week.

Harp­er Polling used an auto­mated tele­phone sur­vey on Feb. 22-23 to con­tact 501 likely voters in the Demo­crat­ic primary. Wolf led with 40 per­cent, fol­lowed by Schwartz with 14 per­cent. State Treas­urer Rob Mc­Cord took 8 per­cent, with former Aud­it­or Gen­er­al Jack Wag­n­er and former state De­part­ment of En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Sec­ret­ary John Hanger each at 7 per­cent. Former DEP Sec­ret­ary Katie Mc­Ginty, a Rhawn­hurst nat­ive and St. Hubert High School gradu­ate, trailed with 6 per­cent. The rest of the voters were not sure.

The Frank­lin & Mar­shall Col­lege Poll was con­duc­ted from Feb. 18-23 and con­sisted of in­ter­views with 548 re­gistered Demo­crats. Wolf led with 36 per­cent, fol­lowed by Schwartz at 9 per­cent and Mc­Cord at 3 per­cent. Mc­Ginty and Hanger each had 1 per­cent. Wag­n­er, who joined the race later, was not in­cluded.

Le­ban­on County Com­mis­sion­er Jo El­len Litz was not in­cluded in either poll.


Six of the sev­en Demo­crat­ic can­did­ates for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor at­ten­ded the MCDC nom­in­at­ing con­ven­tion. Com­mit­tee people voted for an open primary.

The group con­sisted of Brad­ford County Com­mis­sion­er Mark Smith, Har­ris­burg City Coun­cil­man Brad Kopl­in­ski, former Har­ris­burg parks and re­cre­ation dir­ect­or Brenda Alton, state Sen. Mike Stack, state Rep. Brandon Neu­man and Jay Pa­ter­no, son of the late Penn State foot­ball coach Joe Pa­ter­no.

Former con­gress­man Mark Critz did not at­tend.

Stack, of Somer­ton, is in his fourth term. He spoke of his sup­port for a min­im­um wage in­crease, gun safety meas­ures, same-sex mar­riage and in­creased edu­ca­tion spend­ing.

“I am the South­east can­did­ate for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor,” he said.

Pa­ter­no, a former Penn State as­sist­ant coach, cam­paigned for Pres­id­ent Barack Obama in 2008 and ‘12. He spoke of re­cruit­ing play­ers at some of the state’s best and worst high schools.

“Edu­ca­tion, to me, is the key to the fu­ture of this state,” he said.

Harp­er Polling also sur­veyed likely voters in the Demo­crat­ic primary for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor.

Pa­ter­no edged Critz, 17 per­cent to 16 per­cent. Neu­man took 7 per­cent, fol­lowed by Stack with 6 per­cent, Kopl­in­ski with 4 per­cent and Smith with 2 per­cent. Some 48 per­cent were not sure. Alton was not in­cluded in the sur­vey.


Harp­er Polling also took a look at the 2016 Demo­crat­ic primary for the U.S. Sen­ate seat held by Re­pub­lic­an Pat Toomey.

Former con­gress­man Joe Ses­tak, who lost nar­rowly to Toomey in 2010, is run­ning again. Spec­u­la­tion is that state At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Kath­leen Kane is look­ing at the race.

The sur­vey showed Kane lead­ing Ses­tak, 47 per­cent to 24 per­cent.


Demo­crats ba­sic­ally have giv­en up on try­ing to take the ma­jor­ity this year in the Pennsylvania House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives.

Re­pub­lic­ans con­trol the House, 111-92. Rep. Tim Briggs, chair­man of the House Demo­crat­ic Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, de­scribed those num­bers as “ugly” while ad­dress­ing the MCDC nom­in­at­ing con­ven­tion last week.

Brandon Neu­man, the state rep­res­ent­at­ive run­ning for lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor, told the crowd that he would be the best per­son to work with a GOP-con­trolled House.

Briggs prom­ised that Demo­crats would even­tu­ally be in the ma­jor­ity.

“It’s prob­ably not go­ing to be in Novem­ber,” he con­ceded. ••

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