House and Senate Democrats Would Rather Grovel than Rein in Governor Wolf
May 22, 2020
Tom Wolf Wasteland
Guest Post: Tom Wolf is No Longer Relevant
June 9, 2020

Accountability: The 2020 Primary Election

Cris Dush

It’s safe to say that the only “normal” we can point to is the setting on a washing machine. Governor Wolf, unilaterally, extended the deadline to count mail-in ballots by a week in six counties. Despite this change, we can bring you some good news.

Senate District 25’s Republican nominee is a longtime CAP member who advocates for limited government, Cris Dush. It is almost certain that he will be moving from the House to the Senate after the November election. When the Pennsylvanian Supreme Court overstepped their bounds and issued gerrymandered congressional districts, Representative Dush filed the resolution calling for impeachment proceedings to begin. Leadership in the House and Senate lacked the courage to undertake an impeachment at the time. You must wonder how the Governor’s shutdown would have played out if our Supreme Court was populated with judges who appreciate the rule of law.

Dush faced and overcame significant obstacles in the primary, thanks in part to the CAP’s political action committee (PAC). The President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati of the Senate did everything he could to make sure his handpicked successor, Herm Suplizio, was the nominee. Scarnati announced his retirement with only days to go for candidates to circulate nominating petitions to get on the ballot. Delaying his announcement gave an overwhelming advantage to Suplizio. Adding insult to injury, Scarnati has mostly depleted the Senate Republican Campaign Committee’s (SRCC) political action committee accounts. 

By the time all the receipts are tallied, we estimate Scarnati will have spent over $850,000 on a Republican primary. His candidate lost by over 25 points!  Senate District 25 is virtually guaranteed to stay in Republican hands in the general election. Scarnati’s decision to divert funding because of a personal vendetta will deprive Senators in competitive districts the funds they need in the Fall. This isn’t the first time Scarnati’s shortsightedness in primary elections has impacted the general election chances of members of the Senate.

In 2018, Scarnati and the SRCC spent over $900,000 in the primary defending a Republican, Randy Vulokovich. Vulokovich voted for the largest gas tax in Pennsylvania history! The CAP PAC supported candidate, Jeremy Shaffer, defeated Senator Vulakovich by over 15 points! Senate Republican leadership pulled out all the stops to defend Vulakovich, including filing a baseless complaint against CAP. Senate Republican leadership tried to weaponize the Pennsylvania Department of State. Their goal was to violate the privacy of CAP’s 501c4 donors, despite the protections granted to donors by federal law and precedent. 

In the Fall of 2018, the SRCC forced Shaffer to work with the campaign consultant who lost the Vulakovich race and barely lifted a finger financially to help Shaffer’s campaign. The baseless complaint filed by the SRCC, and the $900,000 they spent smearing a fantastic candidate resulted in Shaffer losing by fewer than 800 votes.

Thankfully, Scarnati is retiring this year. Pennsylvanians will no longer have to worry about how he will squander a Republican majority in the Senate. And, Republican Senators won’t have to worry about him wasting money on primary elections. If we’re lucky, the departure of Scarnati will bring an end to the “incumbency protection plan” that turned our state capital into a wealth engine for its inhabitants. Republican senators should be worried that there is enough money available this Fall to protect members in vulnerable districts. The SRCC currently has an outstanding debt of $350,000 to former Senator Scott Wagner from two years ago. Any Republican candidate who loses in November due to a lack of funds should ask themselves how the $850,000 wasted by Scarnati could have helped their race.

The CAP PAC also worked to defeat Rep. Tom Mehaffie. Mehaffie purports to be a conservative Republican. However, his voting record and legislative sponsorships paint a very different picture. He was the primary sponsor of Pennsylvania’s $500 million per year nuclear bailout and an opponent of reigning in out of control government unions. Mehaffie will be lucky to come out of the primary with 40 percent of the vote. Unfortunately, it was a three-way race, and that will be enough to put him on the ballot in November. 

Just a note unrelated to the election, the Pennsylvania House passed legislation that would officially terminate the Governor’s emergency order. According to the PA Emergency Services Management Code (35 Pa C.S. § 7301(c)), “The General Assembly by concurrent resolution may terminate a state of disaster emergency at any time. Thereupon, the Governor shall issue an executive order or proclamation ending the state of disaster emergency.” There is some legal disagreement regarding whether or not a governor can veto the concurrent resolution.

However, before we get to that point, the Senate has to take action. Please, take a moment to email your Senator and let them know it’s time for them to end Governor Wolf’s emergency declaration. We’ve set up an easy to use form for your convenience. We know you are frustrated, but please be courteous when you email them.

Thank you for your continued support.