The May primary election could be more than five months away, but voters can get a taste of Pennsylvania’s candidates for governor and the United States Senate on Wednesday in New Castle.
And with such a large pool, applicants might need to wear badges. The Lawrence County Republican Committee’s regional debate, which will begin with a VIP reception at 5 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Cathedral, will bring together most of the candidates for governor and Senate on one stage.
“They’re all going to be in one place at the same time,” said Lawrence County GOP President Lynne Ryan. “It’s enormous.”
The candidates are running to replace Governor Tom Wolf and US Senator Pat Toomey. Wolf is prohibited by law from running for a third term while Toomey retires. The debate, which is being held in New Castle, and not in a big city, is a victory for the Lawrence County Republican Committee, the sponsor of the event.
âUsually the debates take place in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia or Harrisburg, more populous areas,â Ryan said. âIn fact, the rural part of the state, the conservative part of the state, is how these candidates win elections. We need to be recognized. We need a platform.â
Gov. candidate Lou Barletta, Hazleton’s former mayor and congressman who unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 2018, will not attend the debate much as he skipped last week’s event at Dickinson College in Carlisle. It is also confirmed that Dr Mehmet Oz, candidate for the Senate, will not be present.
On Saturday, the list of confirmed gubernatorial candidates includes Melissa Hart, Jason Richey, Bill McSwain, John Ventre, David White, Guy Ciarocchi, Scott Martin, Dr. Nche Zama, Jake Corman, Charlie Gerow and Jason Monn. The expected Senate candidates are Carla Sands, George Bochetto, Martin Rosenfeld, Kathy Barnette and Jeff Bartos.
Ryan referred to the red âTâ that appears on electoral maps and the need for candidates to focus on winning in rural areas – not just in the southeast and southwest corner areas anchored by Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and its suburbs – to win the state. Toomey’s Senate seat is among the most competitive in the country for this year’s midterm elections and has the potential to shift the balance of power in Washington.
âWestern Pennsylvania, on the whole, this region is fundamentally conservative outside of Erie and Allegheny counties,â said Ryan, who was elected head of the county’s GOP group in the fall. last. Lawrence County has a majority of registered Conservative voters for the first time since the 1970s. âThis side of the state is all conservative, whether red or conservatively leaning. This is the perfect opportunity. We have the perfect setup. Nobody has the setup that we have. “
The Scottish Rite Cathedral, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is an imposing installation that houses a 2,800-seat auditorium with the largest stage between New York and Chicago. Ryan has said that due to its vastness, social distancing can be accomplished and contestants will be spaced out on stage.
âThere is someone for everyone in this race,â she said. “I think it’s a good thing that people have a choice, instead of a single candidate where people have no choice.”
The only Democratic candidate for governor is State Attorney General Josh Shapiro. A handful of Democrats are running for Toomey’s Senate seat, which is critical to the balance of power in Washington. Currently, the Senate is split 50-50, but Democrats hold a one-vote majority because Vice President Kamala Harris has the deciding votes.
Wednesday night’s moderator is Jeffrey Lord, an American Spectator conservative author and political strategist who served as Ronald Reagan’s White House associate political director. He said he thought everyone was starting from the same point of notoriety except Oz.
“We are only in the early stages of these debates and this is an opportunity for the spectators … for them to start to get a feel for it,” Lord said. “It’s only in January. Primary is in May. That’s how you present yourself.”
Lord, who also served as a replacement radio host for Sean Hannity’s post-Christmas show, said he looked forward to the debate. He said he plans to ask a question and let everyone answer it, hoping there isn’t an unpleasant back-and-forth between the candidates.
“I want this to be fair,” he said, adding that the governor’s debate questions will be more state-centric, while the Senate’s will address national issues. “I want the same question for everyone and no perceived favoritism.”
Tickets for VIP and general admission can be purchased at https://www.tix.com/ticket-sales/scottishrite/6775/event/1252089.