GOP: Time for an Open Senate Primary

Member Group : Freindly Fire

Endorsing Steve Welch —who voted for Obama — would make the Party a national laughingstock

To say the Republican presidential primary has become interesting would be a gross understatement. With three different winners in the first three contests — an unprecedented situation — everyone is asking why the frontrunners keep falling and why the GOP base cannot unite behind a leader.

Well, hold on to your seat, because here’s a big question: Would you believe that both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 primary? And after they became disenfranchised by the Republican Party for moving too far Left, they decided to do the only logical thing: become Democrats? And in addition, does it blow your mind that besides voting for the Big O, they took out their frustrations over a too-liberal GOP by financially supporting the most far-Left Democrat in the entire Congress?

Seem far-fetched? Well, it is — and it isn’t.

No, of course Romney and Gingrich didn’t switch Parties, vote for Obama or support liberal Democrats. If either had, it would, without question, be lunacy for any element of the Republican Party to endorse them. To many in the GOP, Obama is not just a political adversary but the Devil Incarnate who must be defeated at all costs. So running someone against Obama who had previously supported him would be a surefire recipe for disaster.

In some respects, Jon Huntsman fell victim to this exact situation. Many Republicans refused to trust him after he served as President Obama’s Ambassador to China, and his candidacy tanked. Likewise, one of Romney’s biggest obstacles to winning over Republicans stems from his implementation of an Obamacare-type health care system in Massachusetts, since many feel that he would be unable to effectively run against Obama on that critical issue.

Enter the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania.

There are seven candidates vying for the opportunity to take on incumbent Bob Casey. The election is in April, but it’s this Saturday, January 28th, that may well determine the nominee. That’s when the Republican State Committee convenes to decide whom it will endorse — if anyone.

Incomprehensibly, but not surprisingly, certain factions within the GOP leadership are pushing to endorse Montgomery County’s Steve Welch, a candidate who:

A) Became a Democrat because the GOP wasn’t conservative enough,

B) Financially supported (former) Congressman Joe Sestak, one of the most liberal members of Congress, and

C) Voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

For those who may think this is also a fairy tale to illustrate a point, think again.

Steve Welch did in fact vote for Barack Obama and supported Joe Sestak. So why on Earth would State Committee want to endorse Welch, and in doing so become the laughingstock of the nation?

Good question. And since State Committee members are elected officials, perhaps they should be asked that before Saturday’s vote.

This is just another example of brain-dead GOP leadership choosing laziness over hard work. Since Welch is a millionaire who could self-fund, GOP leaders wouldn’t have to engage in fundraising activities (AKA "doing their job") nearly as much as they would for other plebian candidates — no matter how much more qualified they may be.

Many Party faithful want to believe that the majority of State Committee sees a Welch endorsement for what it would be: a political and public relations disaster, one that would seriously erode what credibility Pennsylvania’s Republican Party has left. Such an endorsement would also cement the growing perception — not incorrect, by the way — that the only thing of importance to the GOP hierarchy in choosing a candidate is the size of his wallet. Qualifications? A lot of money —period. Republican values? Irrelevant.



Given his recent support of Leftist Democrats, would Steve Welch make a good Republican senator? Tough to tell, but Pennsylvania’s Republican voters should be the ones making that determination, not Party leaders in a smoke-filled backroom who only see dollar signs from a candidate.

Republicans deserve straight answers from Steve, and to this day, they really haven’t received them. Did he vote for Obama to spite his "true" Party, did he truly support him, or did he do it to stop "Hillarycare," as was reported? We don’t know. With those significant questions unanswered, and by extension, character and judgment issues swirling around Welch, an endorsement would only serve to muddy the waters and foster an anger among Republicans that hasn’t been seen in Pennsylvania in decades.

Amazing as it now seems, Hillary Clinton was a Goldwater girl, supporting Barry in his presidential election. It took years for her to evolve into the more liberal Hillary that we know today. So perhaps most disconcerting is the speed in which Steve Welch evolved with his Party loyalties — and then back again.

If one was disgruntled with the Republicans not being conservative enough, fine. Many felt the same way. But that’s why God made the Independent Party.

If one is truly seeking more conservative values, where is the wisdom and good judgment in switching to a Party that for years has unabashedly moved further to the Left? And regarding Obama and Sestak, give them credit where it’s due: both were crystal clear about where they stood on issues. Nationalized health care? Absolutely. Redistribution of wealth through higher taxes? Yep. More government spending is the answer, as a paternalistic government knows best? Without question.

So for someone to abandon the Republicans to join the Democrats, and march behind people such as Obama and Sestak, may well be an indication as to that person’s true political leanings. All the more reason for such a candidate to be vetted by ALL Republicans, not just State Committee.

There are some on the Right who seem opposed to the endorsement process every time it rolls around. Yet in many instances, it has its rightful place, a key instrument in a political party advancing its vision through whom it deems the best candidate. When candidates are vetted correctly, with the best interest of the Party in mind and not the selfish agendas of individual leaders, endorsements can be critically important in winning elections.

But when unprecedented situations arise that scream for an open primary, endorsements should never be forced, as they will virtually always backfire.

Given this situation, it absolutely boggles the mind that Tom Corbett — the Republican Governor of Pennsylvania — would not only get involved in a primary, but would choose to endorse someone with Welch’s background, as he did last week.

For the good of its Party, Republican State Committee should do the right thing this weekend by voting for an open primary. If it chooses to self-destruct by endorsing Steve Welch, that laughing you’ll hear will be Bob Casey as he wraps up another six-year term ten months before the election.

An accredited member of the media, Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at [email protected]