A “unity resolution” pitched by the leader of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party to settle a battle brewing over a seat on the national committee before next month’s summer meeting might instead spark the GOP’s next squabble.
Clout hears the Republican National Committee has been called in to mediate the terms before the July 10 meeting.
Talk about bad timing. The RNC is scrambling to coordinate a two-step presidential nominating convention for August, with a small gathering in Charlotte, N.C., followed by a larger confab in another state.
That makes swing-state Pennsylvania, vital to President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term, yet another headache for the national party.
Lawrence Tabas, chairman of the state’s Republican Party, announced in a May 27 email to committee members the resolution to halt a battle over the RNC seat, held since 1998 by Bob Asher of Montgomery County. Asher, seeking another four-year term, was being challenged by state party Secretary Andy Reilly of Delaware County.
The deal: Asher gets reelected but steps down at the party’s Winter Meeting in February 2021 so Reilly can serve the bulk of the term. Tabas, in his email, said the deal “allows for a peaceful transition” in “a critical election year.”
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a likely contender for the Republican nomination for governor in 2022, endorsed the deal in his own email to state committee members, writing last Friday, “This is not the time for disunion in our nation and certainly not in our State Party.”
The problem: Clout hears Tabas oversold the solution, because it violates RNC rules. The state party can vote on a non-binding resolution to support Reilly’s bid to finish Asher’s term, but can’t formally elect him as an RNC member-in-waiting next month.
Reilly, who has Tabas’ backing, told Clout he thought the deal was done. “It was always structured to be like a one-stop shop, that there would be a vote that would have a binding impact," he said.
Asher has declined to comment on internal matters, saying Thursday, “I am solely focused on winning the election this November."
Tabas, in a statement Thursday, said his unity resolution does not violate RNC rules, and praised Asher and Reilly “for putting the president, our party and our candidates’ interests above their own.” Tabas also said the RNC had urged him to get involved and he is “confident the president is counting on this unity resolution.”
The state Republican Party, as Clout reported last month, was already on the outs with the RNC and Trump’s campaign, which “walked away” earlier this year to set up its own election effort in Pennsylvania.
The beginning of the end for GOP control of the PPA?
A new appointment to the six-member board of the Philadelphia Parking Authority could signal the slow-motion loss of political control for the city’s only agency dominated by Republicans.
Gov. Tom Wolf appointed fellow Democrat Lynette Brown-Sow to a 10-year term on the board for a seat that became vacant on June 1. Brown-Sow, a Philadelphia business consultant and former Community College executive, replaces Andrew Stutzman, a Republican who works at a Center City law firm. Wolf also reappointed Al Taubenberger, a Republican who lost his bid last year for another term on City Council.
They were nominated by state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, a Jefferson County Republican. The Senate, which controls two board seats, had to send Wolf at least three nominations. Scarnati submitted their names on May 12, along with Darren Smith, a lobbyist at Wojdak Public Relations and former Republican state Senate staffer.
So Wolf split the appointments — one Democrat and one Republican.
The same rules apply next year, when the next speaker of the state House, which controls two seats, must submit at least three nominations. Those seats are now held by PPA Chair Joe Ashdale and Karen Wrigley. Their terms expire June 1, 2021. If Wolf again picks a Democrat and a Republican from those nominations, the board would shift to four Republicans and two Democrats.
Wolf gets to select two members of his own for seats that open on June 1, 2022, currently held by City Commissioner Al Schmidt and Russell Wagner, a hospital executive. If Wolf selects two Democrats, his party would take control with a 4-2 majority.
Quotable vs. Quotable
“Jimmy, you worked for me for decades and yet every day you never cease to amaze me. You fought for this statue to be at that very location. How hypocritical of you now to remove it saying that it ‘represented bigotry, hatred and oppression for too many people, for too long...’ Wow, did I miss something, did that just happen or were the feelings towards Rizzo the same back when YOU championed this very same statue?”
— Former State Sen. Vince Fumo, in a long Facebook rant last week after Mayor Jim Kenney had the controversial statue of former Mayor Frank L. Rizzo removed overnight from the front of the Municipal Services Building amid Black Lives Matter protests.
“Mayor Kenney is far too busy doing his job and working to address the real issues facing our city to respond to the rambling Facebook comments of someone as irrelevant as Vince Fumo.”
— Deana Gamble, spokesperson for Kenney, who worked his way up from Fumo’s state Senate staff.