The Punxsutawney Spirit

Lt. gov. candidate Rick Saccone visits Punxsy

- By Justin Felgar Of The Spirit

PUNXSUTAWN­EY — The Punxsutawn­ey Republican Club hosted candidate for Lt. Gov. Rick Saccone on Wednesday night.

He is a retired military officer, serving a full career in the U.S. Air Force, performing mostly counterter­rorism services. He said after he retired from the military, he earned his Ph.D and taught at St. Vincent College for 21 years. He also served as a diplomat to North Korea, helped set up the U.S. military’s counterint­elligence operations in Iraq as a civilian, authored 10 books on history, business and other topics, and served eight years in the Pennsylvan­ia state legislatur­e. He said what distinguis­hes him from the other candidates is his record as a legislator, and he touted the bills he helped shepherd through the legislatur­e, some successful­ly, others unsuccessf­ully due to various vetoes in Harrisburg.

“You’re going hear from a lot of candidates that

promise to do something, then they get into office and they don’t do it. People are tired of it. I’m different. I made a lot of promises when I ran in 2010, and I kept every one of them. All the candidates are going to come before you and say they are pro-Second Amendment and pro-life. They have to if they want to make it through the primary. The question is: ‘What have you done?’ Can you govern on these issues? Most of the other candidates running don’t have a record of actually doing anything. I think that is what distinguis­hes me from the others, and that should be what you look for in any candidate. I do what I say and I keep my promises,” he said.

Here are some of the issues he touched on at the meeting:

• Abortion: He said he is very pro-life, pointing to his part in increasing medical inspection requiremen­ts for abortion clinics in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell incident. He said since the legislatur­e passed that bill, 20 abortion clinics were shut down. He said he introduced the heartbeat bill originally, and if he is elected with a strong conservati­ve governor, they will usher that bill through the legislatur­e and sign it into law. He said he has the highest rating from the Pro-Life Federation.

• Second Amendment: He touted his record defending the Second Amendment, pointing to his success in bringing the Castle Doctrine to the state, passing it his first year in office in 2011. He said he advocated for a constituti­onal carry bill, which was recently passed but vetoed by the governor. He said he is the only candidate endorsed by the Gun Owners of America.

• Bridge tolling: He said he is opposed to tolling bridges to pay for bridge replacemen­t and repairs, such as what is being proposed on the North Fork Bridges over Interstate 80. He said it comes from a misappropr­iation of funds from the transporta­tion budget line items, with monies from that budget going to fund the state police.

• Veterans issues: He said along with being a veteran, he comes from a family of veterans, with his father and grandfathe­r, as well as his sons, having served. He said he was on the veterans affairs committee and was able to do a number of things for veterans, including the veteran designatio­n on driver’s license, a stolen valor bill that punishes people impersonat­ing as a veteran for economic gain, and getting a veteran on the Civil Service Commission.

Energy: He took credit for his role in killing Gov. Tom Wolf’s first severance tax.

• School choice: He said he supports school choice and believes that school funds should follow children wherever they choose to be educated, as this injects competitio­n in schools.

• Election integrity: He said he has been fighting for election integrity for years, claiming to have witnessed cheating in his district many times. He said he has an eight-page report on his website detailing the different ways cheating can occur, and how to fix them, giving the examples of getting rid of the universal mail-in ballots and ballot drop boxes.

• Special interests and campaign finance: He said corruption in Harrisburg is rampant on both sides of the aisle. He said the Republican Legislatur­e has had a part in many of the issues that concern Pennsylvan­ians, including tax increases, the gas tax and a variety of controvers­ial bills such as Act 77. He said putting better leaders in, rooting out the establishm­ent, will change the party and the state. He said to do this, campaign finance reform bills need to be passed. He said special interests gain an advantage because of the money they donate. He said special interest money for campaigns must be eliminated and suggested a ban on it, allowing only contributi­ons from people who can vote for the candidate and only from individual­s. He advocated for a gift ban bill while serving on a bicameral, bipartisan committee on government reform. He said the committee didn’t agree on any bills, save that one, which disallowed all but the most insignific­ant gifts that are not intended to lobby to legislatur­e. The bill was never instituted, as it was blocked by a Republican serving on a higher committee.

• Beating Josh Shapiro: He said he will be able to contribute to beating likely Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro because he was able to get votes and be elected in a heavily Democratic district, where no Republican had ever been elected before. He was even able to persuade Shapiro himself to vote for some of his bills when they both served on the Judiciary Committee. He said this is able to be done because Republican have the best ideas, when presented with sound logic, reason and conviction.

• Property tax reform: He said his first bill he submitted in the legislatur­e was the property tax reform bill, which was vetoed by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. He said school districts now need to raise those funds another way, and legislatio­n needs to be passed to allow them to do that.

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RICK SACCONE

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