DyinThe recent decision by the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee (PAGOP) to
endorse a candidate for US Senate is yet another reminder of the chasm that exists between the conservative grassroots base of the Republican Party, and the elitist "establishment" Republicans who have yet again demonstrated their disdain for rank-and-file voters. For conservatives and political reformers, the recent endorsement of former Democrat booster and Obama supporter Steve Welch smacks of political hi-jinks worthy of the era of Boss Tweed than of the Republican Party of the 21st century – and raises a plethora of bothersome questions.
To begin with, since the emergence of the TEA Party movement and the reassertion of the political reformers within the GOP, a growing opposition to party leadership dictating candidates and positions to Republican voters has become increasingly vocal. Party "bosses" and their apparatchiks were more than aware of the disdain held for traditional bullying tactics, which begs a simple question: Why was the PAGOP bent on endorsement?
With more than 40% of the state committee opposed to holding an endorsement vote, it is apparent that a shrinking but stubborn cadre of PAGOP ringmasters wanted to reassert their authority over the peasants, much in the same way the King’s troops fired on discontent Boston citizens in 1770. But what was their objection – to merely intimidate the reformers and reassert their own relevance, or did they want to neutralize the influence of the reform-minded? And if so, what do the establishment cronies have against lower taxes, less government and political reform?
Perhaps more reprehensible is the fact that the case against endorsing Mr. Welch as the Republican standard-bearer against Bob Casey was three-fold: he had voted for uber-liberal Barack Hussein Obama, he had hosted a "meet-and-greet" for liberal Democrat and Pat Toomey opponent, Joe Sestak, and he has an inconsistent record at even being a registered Republican. All of which begs a nettlesome question: Why in the world did the PAGOP choose to endorse a guy with credentials more suited to the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid – especially when so many other more "Republican" candidates have entered the race?
Indeed, how could the PAGOP have ignored Marc Scaringi, who has been campaigning for the nomination for more than a year, or Tom Smith who was literally kicked out of the Democrat Party for being too conservative? Need mention even be made of former State Representative Sam Rohrer, who has not only a loyal following but also has been notching up the endorsements of other State Representatives?
The bottom line simply is this: there is no way a grassroots Republican voter can appreciate, or even comprehend, why the PAGOP endorsed the candidate they did for US Senate. Nor can one comprehend why any state committee person who may have claimed allegiance with the reform movement would have chosen to embrace the heavy-handed tactics of the establishment party hacks.
Only one thing is sure – the endorsed candidate has earned the righteous wrath of the grassroots Republicans who are the ones who ultimately will decide who should run against Bob Casey. And only time will tell how many current state Republican committee people will be returned to that post when they are up for re-election.
– Louis R. Petolicchio is a township auditor for Jackson Township and a contributor