West Chester >> Members of Chester County’s two major political parties chose the candidates who will lead them into the upcoming midterm elections, choices that come as the gap between the majority and minority parties continues to close.
Members of the Chester County Democratic Committee elected a slate of candidates led by retired DuPont chemist Dick Bingham to succeed outgoing Chairman Brian McGinnis.
Bingham and his three running mates for the executive committee topped a slate of candidates led by the party’s vice chairwoman Lani Frank at the committee’s reorganization convention held at Stetson Middle School in Westtown.
Chester County Republicans returned Chairman Val DiGiorgio to the leadership position he has held since 2011. DiGiorgio, an attorney in private practice with the Malvern firm of Stradley Ronon who lives in West Whiteland, also serves as chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Committee.
DiGiorgio ran unopposed at the party’s reorganization event, held at Fugett Middle School in East Goshen.
Bingham, an East Marlborough resident who has led a regional group of Democrats in the Kennett Square area, laid out his vision for the party in his nominating speech. “Our goal is to help every one of our 228 precincts become a voter turnout powerhouse,” he said in a press release. “Electing Democrats in Chester County will be the norm, never again the exception.”
The party is coming off one of its most historically successful campaign seasons, as it elected four women to county Row Offices — a sweep — in 2017. In the 2016 presidential election, the county chose Democrat Hillary Clinton over Republican Donald Trump by more than 25,000 votes, even as Trump was on his way to winning the state and the overall election.
Overall, the GOP’s traditional edge in party registration in the county has continued to drop since the beginning of the 21st century. In May 2017, the GOP had 151,653 registered voters and the Democrats 132,831. According to the Pennsylvania State Department, as of June 11 there were 151,121 Republicans registered in the county, compared with 135,974 Democrats, closing the gap to 15,147 voters and showing a pick up of 3,143 new voters versus the GOP’s loss of 500 voters.
Even though Trump is not on the ballot for November, Bingham said he anticipates that many of the elections or state and national office that county voters will be asked to decide may revolve around his presidency.
“He certainly is a very polarizing figure,” he said. “I think his presence will bring a lot of voters to our side.
The local Democrats are promoting a full slate of candidates for the two state Senate and nine state House of Representatives seats up for election, as well as a well-funded and motivated candidate for the newly reformed 6th Congressional District, Chrissy Houlahan of Easttown, a district that covers the entire county, plus areas of lower Berks County. Incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Senator Bob Casey are also seeking re-election.
The others elected as part of Bingham’s slate include Marsha Peltz of Malvern for vice chairwoman; Nick Allen of West Chester for secretary; and MaryAnn Piccioni of Tredyffrin for treasurer.
“I am proud to hand over my gavel to Dick,” said outgoing McGinnis, who had supported Bingham over Frank for the seat. Bingham said he expected that Frank, a longtime campaign organizer and party activist, would continue to work for the party.
“Lani and I have always worked well together,” he said. “Obviously we both wanted to win, ad worked hard to get there. But I hope Lani will continue to work with us.”
On the GOP side, in addition to returning DiGiorgio to his seat the committee members in attendance elected Steve Sansone as executive vice chairman, Barb Proto as vice chairwoman, curt Norcini as treasurer, Joe Toner as financial secretary, Robin Marcello as secretary, and Kate Collins as assistant secretary.
In his speech to the gathered committee, DiGiorgio said the committee would “work diligently to return our house delegation to Harrisburg. Our representatives have held the line against the governor’s repeated tax increase attempts. Reps. Warren Kampf (of Tredyffrin) and Becky Corbin (of East Brandywine) have been leaders in the House, and I am eager for them to be joined by our esteemed youth movement of candidates such as Rep. Eric Roe, Amber Little-Turner in the 74th and Nick Deminski in the 156th.”
“As I have often said, when this party is united, we cannot be defeated,” DiGiorgio was quoted as telling the committee.
The committee members also heard from Greg McCauley, candidate for the 6th Congressional District, who was nominated in May after incumbent U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello of West Goshen announced he would not seek re-election. McCauley, of Kennett, spoke on the need to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C., and how his experience as a tax attorney has prepared him to address issues such as the national debt and student loan funding, according to the release. Source