Vot­ers in Ch­ester County set to cast bal­lots in state and fed­eral elec­tions

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Lu­cas Rodgers lrodgers@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @Lu­casMRodgers on Twit­ter

The 2016 pres­i­den­tial con­test has been stranger than fic­tion, as two his­tor­i­cally un­pop­u­lar ma­jor-party can­di­dates – for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton and busi­ness­man Don­ald Trump – are vy­ing for the top elected of­fice in the land. The elec­tion has been di­vi­sive and rid­dled with scan­dals on both sides. But it’s al­most over.

This Tues­day, vot­ers in Ch­ester County, and across the na­tion, will choose the 45th pres­i­dent of the United States. They will also cast bal­lots in sev­eral other po­lit­i­cal races for seats in Congress, the Penn­syl­va­nia Gen­eral Assem­bly and state row of­fices. Of the 354,676 reg­is­tered vot­ers in the county, 155,500 are Repub­li­cans, 137,124 are Democrats, and 62,052 are ei­ther reg­is­tered with a mi­nor party or un­af­fil­i­ated with any party.


There are five pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates on the bal­lot in Penn­syl­va­nia: Repub­li­can Trump, Demo­crat Clin­ton, Lib­er­tar­ian Gary John­son, Green Party can­di­date Jill Stein and Con­sti­tu­tion Party can­di­date Dar­rell Cas­tle.

Ch­ester County Repub­li­can Party Chair­man Val DiGior­gio said he’s seen a rev­er­sal of Trump’s poll num­bers in the county, dur­ing this home stretch of the elec­tion, and Trump has made dou­ble digit gains, to the point where he’s close to Clin­ton in the polls, and within the mar­gin of er­ror. He said there are sev­eral fac­tors that could ex­plain this tight­en­ing of the race.

“Even be­fore the FBI re­opened their in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Clin­ton, there was a steady drip drip of emails un­der­scor­ing how cor­rupt she is,” DiGior­gio said. “Trump started to stay on mes­sage, and the FBI an­nounce­ment is hurt­ing her. We’re also see­ing Repub­li­can vot­ers come home, so that’s a big rea­son why.”

He said the news of Oba­macare pre­mi­ums in­creas­ing by al­most 50 per­cent is also hurt­ing Clin­ton. “Clin­ton wants to dou­ble down on Oba­macare,” he added.

Ch­ester County Demo­cratic Party Chair­man Brian McGin­nis said he thinks Clin­ton will do ex­tremely well in the county, and the get-out-the-vote ef­fort in sup­port of her has been su­perb. He said he doesn’t think the re­cent FBI rev­e­la­tions will af­fect the race.

“Peo­ple are sick of hear­ing about emails,” McGin­nis said. “They’re more con­cerned with

the is­sues at hand, and Hil­lary has a dis­tinct ad­van­tage.”

He said he’s cau­tiously op­ti­mistic about how this elec­tion will turn out, but the Ch­ester County Demo­cratic Com­mit­tee has a great group of vol­un­teers and mem­bers who have re­ally worked to­gether in the last year to sup­port can­di­dates, and that sup­port will trans­late into vic­to­ries.

“Trump did shake things up a lot, but I feel that Hil­lary will win,” McGin­nis said. “She’s the most com­pe­tent can­di­date, and at the end of day the will of the vot­ers will tell us that.”


In the U.S. Se­nate race, in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Sen. Pat Toomey of Up­per Mil­ford, Le­high County is run­ning against Demo­crat Katie McGinty, a for­mer en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy of­fi­cial who lives in Wayne, Ch­ester County, and Lib­er­tar­ian Ed­ward Clif­ford III, an ac­coun­tant from Marple, Delaware County.

DiGior­gio said he be­lieves Toomey will win Ch­ester County be­cause he’s seen his num­bers go up in the polls in the past week, and be­fore that the race was closer to a coin flip. He

said Toomey is beat­ing McGinty on the econ­omy and na­tional se­cu­rity, and her al­leged eth­i­cal lapses are a prob­lem.

McGin­nis said he thinks the Se­nate race will be close in Ch­ester County and all of Penn­syl­va­nia, but he be­lieves McGinty will win be­cause of the get-out-thevote ef­fort across the state. “It’s a good year for statewide can­di­dates with Hil­lary at the top of the ticket,” he added.


There are three con­gres­sional races in Ch­ester County. In the 6th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, fresh­man Repub­li­can U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello of West Goshen is run­ning against Demo­crat Mike Par­rish, a busi­ness­man and U.S. Army vet­eran from Wil­lis­town. The 6th Dis­trict in­cludes parts of Ch­ester, Mont­gomery, Berks and Le­banon coun­ties.

In the 7th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, in­cum­bent Repub­li­can U.S. Rep. Pa­trick Mee­han of Chadds Ford, Delaware County is run­ning against Demo­crat Mary Ellen Balchu­nis, a La Salle Univer­sity pro­fes­sor who lives in the Ard­more sec­tion of Haver­ford, Delaware County. The 7th Dis­trict cov­ers por­tions of Delaware, Ch­ester, Mont­gomery, Berks and Lan­caster coun­ties.

In the 16th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, state Sen. Lloyd Smucker, R-13, of West Lam­peter, Lan­caster County is run­ning against Demo­crat Christina Hart­man, a hu­man rights ad­vo­cate from the city of Lan­caster, and Lib­er­tar­ian Shawn Pa­trick House, a busi­ness­man from Columbia, Lan­caster County. Repub­li­can U.S. Rep. Joe Pitts of East Marl­bor­ough, Ch­ester County has rep­re­sented the 16th Dis­trict for nearly 20 years, but he has cho­sen not to seek re-elec­tion. The 16th Dis­trict in­cludes parts of Ch­ester, Lan­caster and Berks coun­ties.

McGin­nis said he be­lieves there will be a sig­nif­i­cant down-bal­lot af­fect for con­gres­sional races in Ch­ester County. “These can­di­dates are so closely aligned to Trump with the ex­cep­tion of Mee­han,” McGin­nis said. “Costello and Smucker are Trump sup­port­ers.”

Costello “in­tends to vote for the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from Vin­cent Galko, a se­nior ad­viser to Costello’s re-elec­tion cam­paign. Smucker is “sup­port­ing the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from Smucker’s cam­paign man­ager, Zachary Peir­son.

Mee­han called on Trump to with­draw from the pres­i­den­tial race after the “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” tape was re­leased in which Trump can be heard talk­ing about sex­u­ally as­sault­ing women. Mee­han said he plans to write in Trump’s run­ning mate, Repub­li­can In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence, as his choice for pres­i­dent.

DiGior­gio said Mee­han is far ahead of Balchu­nis in the polls, so his de­ci­sion not to sup­port Trump won’t be an is­sue for his chances of win­ning the 7th Dis­trict elec­tion.

He said it looked for a while like the pres­i­den­tial race would have an ef­fect on the down-bal­lot races, but now it’s not look­ing like there’s any ef­fect. He said the Repub­li­can Party is run­ning good, qual­ity can­di­dates, and the polls have spiked sig­nif­i­cantly, so there’s no rea­son to ex­pect any neg­a­tive ef­fect.


All state sen­a­tors in odd­num­bered

dis­tricts are up for re-elec­tion this year. There are two state Se­nate races in Ch­ester County this year. In­cum­bent state Sen. Tom Kil­lion, R-9, of Mid­dle­town, Delaware County is run­ning against Demo­crat Marty Mol­loy, a non­profit of­fi­cial from the Walling­ford sec­tion of Nether Prov­i­dence, Delaware County.

In­cum­bent state Sen. Andrew Din­ni­man, D-19, of West White­land, is run­ning against Repub­li­can Jack Lon­don of Avon­dale, a busi­ness­man and for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer.

DiGior­gio said Din­ni­man tried to body shame Lon­don in­stead of talk­ing about the is­sues, and those re­spon­si­ble should be ashamed of them­selves be­cause of it. “We’ve stuck to the is­sues, and we’re proud of that,” he added.

“I walked down the street a few times with Jack Lon­don, and peo­ple stopped him in the street to tell him they’re go­ing to vote for him, even Democrats,” DiGior­gio said. “It’s a phe­nom­e­non. The guy’s a rock star; I’ve never quite seen any­thing like it in Ch­ester County.”

McGin­nis said he’s con­fi­dent Din­ni­man will win the 19th Se­na­to­rial Dis­trict race by a dou­ble-digit mar­gin. He said Din­ni­man is the stronger can­di­date, and he has a bi­par­ti­san streak that res­onates in Ch­ester County.

McGin­nis said the elec­tion in the 9th Se­na­to­rial Dis­trict, which in­cludes parts of Ch­ester and Delaware coun­ties, is def­i­nitely one to watch be­cause there is a lot of money on both sides. He said the re­sult could de­pend on what turnout is like in the city of Ch­ester and the rest of the dis­trict in Delaware County, but Mol­loy will win the race if he can hold even or win the part of the dis­trict in Ch­ester County.


All state rep­re­sen­ta­tives are up for re-elec­tion this year. There are eight con­tested races for leg­is­la­tors rep­re­sent­ing Ch­ester County this year, and one leg­is­la­tor, state Rep. Tim Hen­nessey, R-26, of North Coven­try, is run­ning un­op­posed.

In­cum­bent state Rep. John Lawrence, R-13, of West Grove, is run­ning against Demo­crat Nancy Dean of Lon­don Grove.

In­cum­bent state Rep. Harry Lewis Jr., R-74, of Caln, is run­ning against Down­ing­town Mayor Josh Maxwell, a Demo­crat.

In­cum­bent state Rep. Becky Corbin, R-155, of East Brandy­wine, is run­ning against Demo­crat James Burns, a for­mer Spring City coun­cil­man.

In­cum­bent state Rep. Dan Truitt, R-156, of East Goshen, is run­ning against West Ch­ester Mayor Carolyn Comitta, a Demo­crat.

In­cum­bent state Rep. War­ren Kampf, R-157, of Tredyf­frin, is run­ning against Demo­crat Hans van Mol, also from Tredyf­frin, who is an in­ven­tory man­ager for a mu­sic dis­tri­bu­tion com­pany.

State Rep. Chris Ross, R-158, of Ken­nett Square, is not seek­ing re-elec­tion. There are two can­di­dates run­ning to fill the seat: Repub­li­can Eric Roe of West Goshen, an ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant to Repub­li­can Ch­ester County Com­mis­sioner Michelle Kich­line; and Demo­crat Su­san Rzu­cidlo of New Gar­den, a non­profit di­rec­tor who also owns and op­er­ates a small farm with her fam­ily.

In­cum­bent state Rep. Steve Bar­rar, R-160, of Up­per Chich­ester, Delaware County, is run­ning against In­de­pen­dent David Cleary of Con­cord, Delaware County. Bar­rar and Cleary are both veter­ans of the U.S. Navy. There is no Demo­cratic can­di­date in this race.

In­cum­bent state Rep. Duane Milne, R-167, of Wil­lis­town, is run­ning against Demo­crat Joe Den­ham, who cur­rently serves on the West White­land Board of Su­per­vi­sors.

McGin­nis said all of the Demo­cratic state House can­di­dates are do­ing a great job con­nect­ing with vot­ers, and some of the races will be very close be­cause of Hil­lary at the top of the ticket. He said the Demo­cratic can­di­dates are fo­cus­ing on the is­sues that matter, such as women’s rights, ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing and the en­vi­ron­ment. He said the key to the elec­tion is go­ing to be sub­ur­ban women, and he feels strongly they’ll be vot­ing on the Demo­cratic side be­cause of these is­sues.

DiGior­gio said the Demo­cratic can­di­dates don’t agree with Ch­ester County vot­ers, and they can’t talk about the is­sues so they talk about Trump. He said in all his years be­ing in-

volved with pol­i­tics, he’s never seen this level of hys­te­ria com­ing out of the lo­cal Democrats with ac­cu­sa­tions against the Repub­li­can can­di­dates. In the Roe race, the Democrats are al­leg­ing fraud, but Roe has main­tained his res­i­dency, DiGior­gio said.


Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Chair­man Josh Shapiro of Abing­ton, Mont­gomery County, a Demo­crat, and state Sen. John Raf­ferty, R-44, of Lower Prov­i­dence, Mont­gomery County, are run­ning for at­tor­ney gen­eral, the top law en­force­ment of­fice in the state. For­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Kath­leen Kane, a Demo­crat, was re­cently sen­tenced to 10 to 23 months in jail for il­le­gally dis­clos­ing in­for­ma­tion from a grand jury in­ves­ti­ga­tion and ly­ing about her ac­tions un­der oath. The cur­rent at­tor­ney gen­eral is Demo­crat Bruce Beemer, who will re­turn to his pre­vi­ous po­si­tion as in­spec­tor gen­eral, after a new at­tor­ney gen­eral is elected and as­sumes the of­fice.

Four can­di­dates are run­ning for au­di­tor gen­eral: Demo­cratic in­cum­bent Eugene DePasquale of West Manch­ester, York County; Repub­li­can Northamp­ton County Ex­ec­u­tive John Brown of Ban­gor, Northamp­ton County; Lib­er­tar­ian Roy Minet, a re­tired busi­ness­man from East Done­gal, Lan­caster County; and Green Party can­di­date John Sweeney of Dal­ton, Wyoming County, a pain­ter and au­di­tor for Falls Town­ship, Wyoming County. As the top fis­cal of­fi­cer in the state, the au­di­tor gen­eral is re­spon­si­ble for per­form­ing au­dits of state agen­cies.

There are also four can­di­dates in the race for state trea­surer: Demo­crat Joe Torsella of Whitemarsh, Mont­gomery County, who is the found­ing pres­i­dent and for­mer CEO of the Na­tional Con­sti­tu­tion Cen­ter in Philadel­phia and a for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions for man­age­ment and re­form; Repub­li­can Otto Voit, a busi­ness­man and Army vet­eran from Muh­len­berg, Berks County; Lib­er­tar­ian James Babb, an en­tre­pre­neur from Lower Prov­i­dence, Mont­gomery County; and Green Party can­di­date Kristin Combs, a teacher from Philadel­phia. The win­ner will lead the Penn­syl­va­nia Trea­sury Department, which is re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the state’s fi­nances. Penn­syl­va­nia’s last elected state trea­surer, Demo­crat Rob McCord, re­signed in 2015 after plead­ing guilty to fed­eral cor­rup­tion charges.


Vot­ers across the com­mon­wealth will be able to cast bal­lots in a ref­er­en­dum ask­ing if they want 75 to be the manda­tory age of re­tire­ment for judges in Penn­syl­va­nia. The cur­rent manda­tory re­tire­ment age for judges is 70, but that in­for­ma­tion is not in­cluded in the ques­tion vot­ers will see on the bal­lot. The omis­sion of the cur­rent re­tire­ment age has led to le­gal dis­putes over the word­ing of the bal­lot ques­tion, and crit­ics have de­scribed it as mis­lead­ing and de­ceit­ful.

If vot­ers ap­prove the bal­lot ques­tion, jus­tices, judges and mag­is­te­rial dis­trict judges would be re­tired on the last day of the cal­en­dar year in which they turn 75. The new manda­tory age re­quire­ment would apply to all 1,027 state judges, of whom 19 will turn 70 in 2016, Jim Ko­val, spokesman for the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Of­fice of Penn­syl­va­nia Courts, had said when the con­tro­versy be­gan last spring.

At the high­est ju­di­cial level in the state, Penn­syl­va­nia Supreme Court Chief Jus­tice Thomas Say­lor will turn 70 this year, and Supreme Court Jus­tice Max Baer turns 70 next year.

In ad­di­tion to the statewide bal­lot ques­tion, two Ch­ester County mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will be ask­ing vot­ers to weigh in on ref­er­en­dums spe­cific to their ju­ris­dic­tions.

Newlin vot­ers will be asked to vote on a ref­er­en­dum to in­crease real es­tate prop­erty taxes by 0.15 mills, or 15 cents per $1,000 of as­sessed value, to be used to pur­chase open space.

In Malvern, a bal­lot ques­tion will ask if res­i­dents want to limit the amount of time a per­son would be per­mit­ted to serve on bor­ough coun­cil. The pro­posed re­vi­sion would pro­hibit any per­son from run­ning for bor­ough coun­cil for more than two con­sec­u­tive terms. After serv­ing two elected terms, a per­son would not be el­i­gi­ble for re-elec­tion to a third term. It would also pro­hibit any per­son from be­ing ap­pointed to two con­sec­u­tive un­ex­pired terms or serv­ing any part of three con­sec­u­tive terms by ap­point­ment or elec­tion. The change would apply to both the cur­rent and fu­ture mem­bers of bor­ough coun­cil.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Elec­tion Day. Any voter who is in line at 8 p.m. will still be al­lowed to vote.

Any­one who has ques­tions about vot­ing or needs as­sis­tance with vot­ing can con­tact the Ch­ester County Voter Ser­vices of­fice at 610-344-6410 or visit Voter-Ser­vices.

Fol­low Dig­i­tal First Me­dia staff writer Lu­cas M. Rodgers on Twit­ter @Lu­casMRodgers and on Face­book at www.face­ lu­casmrodgers.


Elec­tion signs call to mo­torists headed east on Paoli Pike from West Ch­ester Pike in West Goshen. Elec­tion Day is fi­nally here on Tues­day.

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