Pennsylvanians Want a True GOP Gubernatorial Primary

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The grassroots have awakened.

Scott Brown carries the day in Massachusetts by a solid margin. Chris
Christie prevails in New Jersey’s governor race. Bob McDonnell wins in
Virginia’s governor race. Florida Republican Chairman Jim Greer is ousted by
activists infuriated by his endorsement of an insider candidate for the
state’s Senate seat.

These were not necessarily victories for any political party as pundits are
quick to claim but, rather, for ordinary citizens who are frustrated and
angry with machine politics and the political elite who anoint candidates
for their party loyalty rather than for their principles.

The caring, decent people of our country have only just begun to demonstrate
their displeasure.

Now the activists have established a new beachhead in Pennsylvania in their
fight for electoral freedom, with the Pennsylvania Republican Party chairman
as the target of their resentment.

In a newspaper account of Congressman Jim Gerlach’s withdrawal from the
governor’s race, state Republican Chair Robert Gleason Jr. said that now
candidate Tom Corbett "doesn’t need a primary" to establish himself, and
that he is pleased that Corbett would be able to "husband his resources."

With this pronouncement Gleason effectively dismissed the candidacy of state
Rep. Sam Rohrer and crowned Corbett as the party’s gubernatorial candidate.
Six weeks before party delegates meet to vote, Gleason had already written
off Representative Rohrer without giving him adequate opportunity to make
his views known or gauging the support of the electorate.

Many people regard Rohrer as an honest, common-sense candidate whose message
and principles resonate with a grassroots movement hungry for a rejection of
the status quo. Gleason’s blatant attempt to marginalize Rohrer by ignoring
him has provoked the ire of activists and Rohrer proponents from across the
state who are now demanding an open primary election that is free of bias
and unfettered by political favoritism.

And well they should. Republican Party endorsements have included Lynn
Swann, Mike Fisher, Rick Santorum and others who were chosen for their
purported name recognition and "electability" but were decisively rejected
at the polls.

The party and the people would undoubtedly be better served by allowing the
voters to select their candidate.

Those chosen by the party elite prior to the primary election have a decided
advantage over rival candidates by allowing them the use of party resources
such as databases, research, and funding. This practice immediately tilts
the playing field in favor of the endorsed candidate and will go far toward
assuring their success. This must end if we are to restore the open
electoral process.

The coronation of candidates taints the integrity of those contenders by
making them beholden to the powers that choose them and the special
interests that finance their campaigns.

Gleason and the Pennsylvania Republican leaders have completely lost touch
with their base and are misreading the mood of the Pennsylvania electorate
and, indeed, that of the nation. At the party meeting in February they will
again order their delegates to march in lockstep with the party powers to
endorse their hand-picked candidate. But this time that edict will become a
liability for those who are chosen.

Patriot organizations, taxpayer advocates, tea party, 9/12 and similar
grassroots groups have come together and will speak with one voice to
repudiate the power of the political elite who would strip us of our

The governor’s seat belongs to the people, not the party; it is time for all
citizens to demand of the Republican bosses an open, transparent primary
election so that we, the people of Pennsylvania, may choose who will lead

David Baldinger is spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer
Associations, an organization of 36 taxpayer groups that is working for
school property tax elimination and education finance reform.