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Pa. Republicans wrap up statewide bus tour with visit to Philadelphia suburbs

David McCormick addresses an audience in Philadelphia on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023 (Credit: Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

John Cole, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
April 26, 2024

MEDIA, Pa.— The Republican candidates for Pennsylvania statewide office embarked on a two-day statewide bus tour following Tuesday’s primary election, making six stops across the commonwealth. David McCormick, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, Treasurer Stacy Garrity, Auditor General Tim DeFoor and York County District Attorney Dave Sunday, the GOP nominee for state attorney general, wrapped the tour with a stop in the Philadelphia suburbs Thursday.

Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Lawrence Tabas said political strategy used to typically involve an intense blitz of campaigning in the 72 hours ahead of an election, but that such tactics would not work in the current cycle.

“The 72 hour intensity program began yesterday,” Tabas said Thursday. “We cannot beat Bob Casey, waiting until the fall. We cannot reelect Stacy and Tim and elect Dave Sunday waiting until the fall.” 

Tabas touted the support of former President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee. He said they described Pennsylvania as one of the two key states for the 2024 election. He boasted about recent data showing Republicans cutting into the Democratic Party’s voter registration advantage in Pennsylvania. Registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans in the commonwealth, but Tabas noted that Republicans were taking advantage of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s automatic voter registration order

McCormick, who was the final speaker of the evening at the event at Towne House in Delaware County, said that the Republican Party is unified behind the four candidates for statewide office. 

“This is a team sport, this is the team,” McCormick said. “We’ve got to win this election.” 

Echoing his message on the campaign trail, McCormick said that the country is in “deep trouble,” and pinned the blame on President Joe Biden’s administration and Casey.

The McCormick campaign released a digital ad on Wednesday that includes comments Casey made in 2006 criticizing then-incumbent U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) for voting with President George W. Bush 98% of the time, while pointing to Casey’s current voting record with the Biden administration.

Casey has criticized McCormick throughout the campaign for his recent residency in Connecticut and linked him to Trump, who lost the state in 2020.

Following the speech, the Capital-Star asked McCormick how he would differ from Trump, who he has endorsed for president.

McCormick said he had disagreed with Trump on the outcome of the 2020 election in his book Superpower in Peril: A Battle Plan to Renew America and argued that he’s “an independent voice.” 

When pressed about a specific policy issue where he currently disagrees with Trump, McCormick suggested that their positions on Ukraine may differ, saying it’s in America’s best interest to support Ukraine in defending itself against Russia. 

“The position I’ve taken publicly, which I’ve said over and over again, is that I believe we should support Ukraine,” McCormick said. “I’m not sure where President Trump is on that, exactly. I’ve heard him say a number of things.”

While Trump has been outspoken over various spending bills during the Biden administration, he didn’t specifically endorse or condemn the most recent vote to include funding for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has taken issue with Trump’s previous comments earlier in 2024, when Trump claimed he could stop Ukraine’s war with Russia in 24 hours.

“I’ve also said I was very disappointed with the bill that went through because it included $10 billion of economic assistance that was not military. It didn’t have any offsets, and it didn’t address the border problem,” McCormick added Thursday. “So I’ve tried to be very clear about what I believe, that may be an area that’s different. I’m not entirely sure.”

Sunday, who serves as York County’s District Attorney, will face former Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale for attorney general, the only open statewide seat this year.

“I can tell you right now that the attorney general of Pennsylvania is the state’s chief law enforcement officer,” Sunday said. “And don’t forget that.”

“When you hear my opponent talk about it being other things, it is the chief law enforcement officer,” he added. “And if our community is not safe, nothing else matters.”

Garrity, who will face Democrat Erin McClelland in November, pointed to her office’s work on unclaimed property, returning military medals, and investing more money in Israel bonds as examples of why she deserves a second term in office. 

“They call us extremists because that’s the only thing they have,” Garrity said, referencing Democratic attacks. “They don’t have a leg to stand on.”

Democrats have criticized Garrity for participating in a pro-Trump rally on January 5, 2021 in Harrisburg, where she questioned the results of the 2020 presidential election. Garrity was the first statewide candidate in Pennsylvania to endorse Trump’s 2024 bid for the White House, calling Trump the “only one man I trust to get the job done” in the post.

DeFoor will go up against state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) in his bid for a second term. He touted his office’s focus on promoting financial literacy in schools and conducting various audits since being elected. 

“In 2020, I came to you as an unknown, asking for your help,” said DeFoor, who was then the Dauphin County Controller. “And I explained to you that if elected, there was one thing I was going to do and that was the job of the Auditor General, to follow the Pennsylvania fiscal code.”

“The Pennsylvania fiscal code doesn’t say “Republican auditor general do one thing and Democrat auditor general do another thing,” he added. “It simply states the auditor general shall do that and that’s what I did and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.” 

The evening also included speeches from down-ballot candidates like Alfe Goodwin, Republican Party nominee for the 5th Congressional District, seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware). 

Goodwin didn’t mention Scanlon by name during her address. She said “our constitutional rights are not negotiable,” and blasted Democrats over a number of issues, including education. 

“I think the Department of Education is way too big,” she said. “I think we need transparency in our schools.” She railed against diversity initiatives in classrooms, saying parents needed to know “if your children are exposed to that.” 

“Heck, I said, ‘let’s just go for it and put cameras in the classroom’,” Goodwin added. “I mean, why not? We’re at the point now where that is what we need.” 

Goodwin, a former Philadelphia police officer, and former teacher, previously ran for office as a Libertarian candidate for the state House in 2022 and 2023. ​​If she wins the seat, Goodwin would become the second Black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress. 

All of the Pennsylvania Republican Party-backed candidates won their bids for the party nomination in Tuesday’s primary election. However, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley received more than 16% of the GOP vote for president, despite dropping out of the race in March. 

While the Biden campaign is actively attempting to persuade Haley voters to support him over Trump, referencing past insults Trump has thrown at Haley, Tabas said he’s “not at all” worried about losing those Haley voters in November. 

When asked why he thought Haley received double-digit numbers of votes, mainly in the Philadelphia suburbs, he did not answer directly, instead saying Democrats should be asked why there’s a movement to vote “uncommitted” in some states. 

In 2020, Biden racked up big margins in Philadelphia and its collar counties, winning all of them by double digits, with the exception of Bucks County, where Biden bested Trump by 4 points.

Biden has visited the Philadelphia-region on four different occasions during the 2024 cycle, including a speech in Delaware County one day after delivering his State of the Union address in March. Biden emphasized abortion rights during that speech, as Democrats continue to highlight the differences between the two parties on that issue.

On Thursday night, none of the candidates referenced Roe v. Wade, the Dobbs decision, or abortion during their speeches. 

In 2022, Democrats John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro all won Philadelphia and its surrounding counties by wide margins over Republicans Mehmet Oz and Doug Mastriano. 

Despite Democratic momentum in the region, Tabas is confident that their ticket will do well.

“We’re gonna do well in the southeast, very well. We’re gonna win Bucks County,” Tabas told the Capital-Star. “We’re going to be very competitive in these other counties as well.”

Asked if he thinks all of the statewide candidates will win Bucks County, Tabas reiterated his positive outlook. 

“Since we’re not betting money on it, I’m gonna say yes,”  he said.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.