Some may say it’s an “off-year election,” but that certainly isn’t considered a true statement for those who attended the annual GOP Fall Rally Dinner at Smithfield Fire Hall Thursday evening.
Over 300 people attended the dinner, hoping for a chance to hear from those running for county row offices, as well as GOP political leaders and other prominent GOP figures in the state.
Keynote speaker for the evening was Calvin Tucker, president and CEO of Eagles Capital Advisers LLC and director of engagement and advancement for the state Republican Party.
He said his goal is to bring the Republican Party and philosophy to every part of Pennsylvania, even parts of the state that traditionally vote for Democratic candidates, even in his hometown, the city of Philadelphia.
“You have a winning team here in Huntingdon County, so we’re here to honor you,” said Tucker. “You are the backbone of the party, and we pledge our continued support of your efforts.”
Tucker also noted it’s important to support Republican candidates in 2019 and keep that momentum going for the 2020 presidential election, despite the challenges from the “fake news media,” and other obstacles, like the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.
But, Tucker also wants to spread the message that all are welcome to the Republican Party.
“We welcome all Pennsylvanians,” he said. “Regardless of age, gender, old, young, faith, you are welcome to come under one big tent.”
He’s most proud to have served and will serve again as media surrogate for Trump in the 2016 and upcoming 2020 election, and noted some of the promises Trump has kept during his time in office.
“We’ve had a number of new judges,” said Tucker. “About 160 federal judges have been appointed during Trump’s term, and we now also have a comfortable conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Tucker also mentioned it’s important to vote for state Superior Court candidates Judge Christylee Peck and Megan King as well as vote for retention for Judge Judy Olson of the state Superior Court and judges Patricia McCullough and P. Kevin Brobson for state Commonwealth Court.
“Because of the redistricting in 2018, due to a judges ruling from liberal, socialist progressive Democrats, they overturned the will of the people,” he said.
To conclude, Tucker encouraged those in attendance to keep the county Republican, noting that 73.5% of voters went for Trump in the 2016 election.
“The work you do off sets the ‘blue’ counties in the state,” he said. “What you do in 2019 lays the groundwork for 2020.”
McCullough, the judge up for retention in the state Commonwealth Court, spoke, noting it’s been 10 years since she’s been able to hear from citizens about what’s on their hearts.
“I’ve been doing what I pledged to do — uphold the rule of law the Constitution of Pennsylvania and the United States,” she said.
She added this is not an “off-year election” and Pennsylvania has been and continues to be a pivotal place for Democracy.
“This is the place where ‘one nation under God’ was birthed,” said McCullough. “The Constitution was written here. This is the seed of a commission you have to uphold the principles of our nation.”
Republican candidates from county row offices had the opportunity to speak. Current Magisterial District Judge Doug Gummo was brief, but expressed his gratitude.
“I appreciate everyone’s support,” he said, noting he hopes to get an opportunity to speak again in six years, as judges are not allowed to attend political events unless they’re running for election.
Huntingdon County District Attorney Dave Smith acknowledged those behind the scenes who support him, whether it’s with his campaign or every day in the office.
“Whether it’s signing petitions, putting up campaign signs, or anything, I want to thank you for the overwhelming support I’ve seen for my campaign.
“I also want to thank those in my office who work behind the scenes, including my first assistant district attorney Julia Wilt,” Smith added. “I also want to thank the police officers and sheriff’s deputies. They put their lives on the line, and their dedication to their job makes my job easier.”
Coroner Paul Sharum thanked those who have supported him for the last eight years, and said he hopes to serve another term.
He also noted some of the accomplishments he’s achieved in his time in office, including updating the office to the 21st century and getting as much training for deputy coroners as possible.
Register and recorder Jinny Cooper thanked those in her office for their hard work and diligence.
“Nobody does a good job without the people working with them,” she said. “They make me look good.”
She also thanked those in the community for their support.
“There’s nothing better than running into you in public and you tell me what we’ve done for you,” said Cooper. “That means so much.
County treasurer Susan Harry said she hopes to continue to do what she feels is the most important part of her duties in the treasurer’s office.
“The most important part of what I do is watch your money and how it’s spent,” she said.
She also noted that a recent state audit, done every four years, garnered no negative findings in her office.
Huntingdon County Commissioners Mark Sather and Scott Walls both spoke of how they fulfilled their goals of working together for all county residents in their first terms as commissioner.
“We’ve worked together to overcome obstacles,” said Sather. “That’s the big thing (Walls) and I have done.”
“We told everyone (when running for the first term as commissioner) that we needed to bring everyone together to get things done, and we’ve worked with state and federal officials to get things done,” said Walls.
Sather and Walls talked about some of the accomplishments working with other row offices and state and federal officials, including the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Project funds for the 911 infrastructure upgrades for over $1 million.
Other accomplishments include significantly bringing down expenses in Children and Youth Services, with a future goal of bringing back foster care placement to the county as opposed to using outside agencies.
Special guest for the evening was state Republican Committee chair Lawrence Tabas, who said his goal is to support the county committee in all it does to elect Republicans to office.
“Trump was elected (in 2016) because of people like you,” he said. “Data is important, and social media has a role, but elections are won because of people like you. Because of the human touch, we outperformed the counties in the southeastern part of the state. I view my role is being in service for you.”
Tabas said since he became chair nine weeks ago, Peck and King, the state Superior Court Republican candidates, now have more money in their coffers.
“One only had $5,000, and the other had $30,000 with a $35,000 debt,” he said. “Now, together, they have $1 million.”
He also said if people get discouraged, they should think of how Trump deals with adversity.
“If you’re overwhelmed by the news, think of Trump taking it from all sides and not retreating,” he said.