The Morning Call (Sunday)

Why I had to leave the Republican Party

- Paul Muschick Morning Call columnist Paul Muschick can be reached at 484-280-2909 or paul. muschick@mcall.com.

When I started writing opinion columns about three years ago, here’s how I introduced my position on politics.

“I don’t like politics. It’s full of phonies and interferes with good government. I’m registered as a Republican but I’m one of those Republican­s with a brain. I’m not a zombie who blindly follows the party line.”

What went down Wednesday in Washington and Tuesday in Harrisburg solidifies my position more than ever.

In fact, it prompted meto punt on the Republican Party — which I’ve been registered with for nearly my entire voting life — and become an independen­t. I changed my registrati­on Thursday. It was getting painful to be associated with so many sore losers.

In Washington on Wednesday, some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters rioted through the Capitol in a vain attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the Electoral College results and sealing Trump’s fate. Even after that disgrace, eight of Pennsylvan­ia’s GOP congressme­n still had the president’s back and voted — unsuccessf­ully — against certifying the state’s vote.

In Harrisburg on Tuesday, the Republican-controlled state Senate refused to swear in a Democrat, who was the certified winner of a tight race in western Pennsylvan­ia, because of pending legal challenges by the losing Republican.

What’s it going to take to open Republican eyes to the fact that there was no

conspiracy against their party in Pennsylvan­ia?

Republican­s won two statewide offices, auditor general and treasurer. In the treasurer’s race, the Democratic incumbent was defeated — and defeating any incumbent is a tall task. Republican­s retained their majority in the state Senate and expanded their majority in the state House, in the process canning the top-ranking House Democrat, who was a longtime incumbent.

Pennsylvan­ia voters embraced many Republican­s. Trump just wasn’t among them. It’s time to accept that.

Yet some state and federal Republican lawmakers continue to support Trump’s claims that the election was stolen.

They ignore the fact that the president has lost pretty much every legal challenge he’s mounted, in Pennsyl

vania and elsewhere. They don’t even seem to care about his nefarious request that Georgia election officials “find 11,780 votes” so he could be declared the winner there.

Thankfully, the Republican objectors in the U.S. House of Representa­tives got nowhere with their stand on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, as Democrats control the House. There was sufficient support to certify the Electoral College vote in Pennsylvan­ia and every other state.

Some GOPsenator­s tried to take a stand as well, but that was just more posturing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell objected to attempts by his Republican colleagues to overturn the Electoral College results. Other Republican senators also spoke out against the foolishnes­s, including Penn

sylvania’s Pat Toomey.

Toomey may feel more free to speak his mind than other senators, as he announced he won’t be seeking reelection. I wish more would speak up.

While the political posturing in Washington was just another act in the circus there, what happened in Harrisburg on Tuesday was real and troublesom­e.

It was wrong not to seat Democratic state Sen. Jim Brewster, who defeated Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli by 69 votes.

Unless the certified vote in that race is overturned in her favor, Brewster is the duly elected senator for his district. And he is entitled to begin serving immediatel­y. If the results are overturned, then Ziccarelli can be sworn in. There’s no harm.

If the situation was reversed, with the Republican candidate being certified as the winner and the Democrat filing legal challenges, would the Republican candidate have been put in limbo pending the outcome?

We all know the answer. The red carpet would have been rolled out for her to stroll to her seat on Tuesday.

Now, I believe Ziccarelli has a legitimate beef. She has asked a federal judge to throw out 311 mail ballots that were not dated by the voters, as required by law. If those ballots were tossed, she would be the winner, according to pennlive.com.

Ziccarelli also has filed a legal challenge with the state Senate, asking it to use what she says are its powers under the state Constituti­on to decide the winner. She already lost an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

As I’ve said before, if mail voters don’t fill out their ballot and return envelope completely, then their votes should not be counted. They should vote in-person at the polls if they can’t follow the simple instructio­ns for voting by mail.

But unless a judge rules in Ziccarelli’s favor, she isn’t the winner.

The election in Pennsylvan­ia was by no means perfect. The mail voting law, which was approved by the Republican-controlled Legislatur­e, needs to be tightened to ensure it is implemente­d uniformly across the state and to clarify certain points, including whether incomplete ballots can be corrected.

But there was no evidence of widespread fraud, either.

It’s time for everyone to move on. Including me, from the GOP.

 ?? BRYNNANDER­SON/AP ?? President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in support of Republican Senate candidates Sen. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue on Monday in Georgia.
BRYNNANDER­SON/AP President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in support of Republican Senate candidates Sen. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue on Monday in Georgia.
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