Attending the Chester County GOP endorsement convention last night was a four-hour marathon event. The evening started at 7 PM and was filled with political tradition, excitement, predictions, disappointment and for some of us . . . a night of waiting.
With 391 committee members voting (or holding proxy votes), the convention endorsement process required a candidate to receive 60 percent of the total votes or 235 votes. If after one round of voting, a candidate did not receive a minimum of 60 percent of the votes, there was a second round of voting. On the occasion that the second round did not net a candidate at least 235 votes, a third round of voting was required. If a candidate did not emerge with the required 60 percent on the third round of voting, both candidates received ‘recommended’ status versus ‘endorsed’ and the Republican candidate would be determined by the voters in the May primary.
For those of us in the spectator seats (only the voting committee members of the county GOP were permitted beyond a certain point) there was an opportunity to speak with the candidates. Fortunately for me, Congressman Joe Pitts campaign manager was sitting close by and she provided a wealth of information on the candidates and an explanation of the endorsement process. I liken my attending the convention, much as a spectator at a sporting event, when you have never played the sport and do not know the rules and regulations. It was great to have an expert explaining the ‘plays’ throughout the night!
My interest in attending the GOP convention last night, extended beyond idle fascination. I felt like I had a ‘horse in the race’ so to speak and for me the evening centered on the district attorney race. I have written about the DA candidates, Pat Carmody, Tom Hogan and Steve Kelly. Although I know Hogan and consider him a friend, I have had email and telephone contact with Carmody and Kelly. Having had several phone conversations with Pat Carmody, I was delighted to put a ‘face to the voice’. Friendly and engaging, it is easy to see how Carmody has successfully served in the district attorney office for 27 years! As expected, Kelly withdrew his name from the nomination process and his support (and the suggestion that his supporters do likewise) went to DA candidate Hogan.
The district attorney race was the last race of the night. Remembering that after the straw polls, only two votes separated Carmody and Hogan (Carmody led by the 2 votes) the committee members cast their votes for DA. First round, the vote count was Carmody 165; Hogan 224. Neither candidate had received the necessary 60 percent vote; a second round of voting was required. At this point, it was late in the evening – after 10:30 PM. Two of the committee members had left the building (and apparently did not leave their proxy) so the committee members voting dropped to 389 (versus the original 391). However, the 60 percent number of votes required for endorsement remained the same at 235. After a second round of voting in the DA race, the count shifted — Carmody 127; Hogan 255. Hogan had passed the required 60 percent vote margin and emerged the endorsed Republican District Attorney candidate. Although Hogan is the GOP endorsed DA candidate, there was speculation among the spectators that Carmody may remain in the district attorney race.
In other races, there was no surprise that the two endorsed County Commissioner candidates are Terrence Farrell and Ryan Costello. If you recall, Costello was recently appointed to fill the unexpired term of Carol Aichele. The Common Pleas Judge race was interesting. Candidates Jeff Sommer and Ann Marie Wheatcraft were both recommended after three rounds of very close voting. However, so as not to confuse voters at the primary, Jeff Sommer withdrew his name, and by a special vote, Wheatcraft was named the endorsed candidate; thus avoiding any confusion in May. The other Common Pleas judge candidate endorsed was Mark Tunnell.
Creating a look right out of the Wild West with straw cowboy hats and red t-shirts were supporters of Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh. Without party opposition, Welsh was endorsed for re-election as Chester County sheriff.
I want to thank the Chester County GOP for allowing the public the opportunity for an inside look at county politics. Several people asked if I would be attending the county Democratic convention on Saturday. My reply, only if there are any contested races. (I do not think any of the races are contested.)
Although the district attorney’s race was my primary motivation for attending the county GOP endorsement convention last night, the evening provided a glimpse in to political party tradition and a front row seat for the candidate endorsement process. Thank you for the experience Chester County Republican Committee.