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Good News From Dauphin County: Redefinition of ‘Establishment Candidate’

Good News: Dauphin County, PA’s Redefinition of the ‘Establishment’ Candidate

By Josh First
March 15, 2013

Two consummate political insiders are quietly leading an interesting, even inspiring redefinition of ‘establishment politician’, and it’s happening in a quiet Dauphin County, PA judge’s race usually known more for voter disinterest and a lack of exposure to the candidates than as an all-out competition. That’s now all changing as a competitive scramble for limited primary votes gets the two candidates out into the cold, knocking on doors every day, asking for ballot petition signatures, and handing out their campaign literature.

Both Bill Tully and Fran Chardo have long and active ties to the local GOP political establishment, serving as county GOP committeemen and assistant district attorneys, among other official and unofficial roles.

Another political insider, Jim Zugay, until recently the Dauphin County Recorder of Deeds, dropped out of the race over a month ago after failing to obtain the Dauphin County Republican Committee endorsement. Reportedly, Zugay had been promised the endorsement, and would not compete in an open primary without it.

Both Tully and Chardo asked for an open primary with no GOP endorsement, instead relying upon their existing individual relationships within the party. Tully is endorsed by popular Dauphin County Sheriff Jack Lotwick, and Chardo has the support of his boss Ed Marsico, Dauphin County’s popular District Attorney.

Chardo has spent his career in the DA’s office, now serving as head assistant district attorney. Tully also served as an assistant DA, and has also done a long stint as a private defense and civil litigation attorney.

Both men are clean cut, personable, articulate, respected community leaders and family men, with excellent professional and political qualifications. Either one can pick up a phone and talk with nearly any elected leader in the state. Both are quintessential political insiders with roots in and allegiances to ‘the system’.

Except for one thing: By running in this race, these candidates both bucked their own system. You know, the smoke-filled back room system, where party bosses horse trade and usually weed out strong prospective candidates either through pressure and threats, or enticements of government jobs and contracts, future support, or party endorsements that provide some and deprive other candidates of campaign seed funds. That party machine system has been steadily eroding in Dauphin County over the past few years.

Indeed, it seems to be breaking down in the state Republican Committee, as well, where appetites are stronger for greater opportunity through healthy primary competitions rendering the fittest candidate to carry the GOP torch. Last year was a fiasco for the Dauphin County GOP machine, where party bosses ran untested, apparently unqualified candidates against independent-minded incumbents and self-starters, and lost, at great cost to party finances and credibility.

Now, these two self-driven judicial candidates face off, each with his own array of marquee supporters, and no party endorsement, which strikes me and most other Americans as the way American political races are supposed to be run. Chardo has a good strong personal presence, while Tully is older, more experienced, and probably a little more independent of party bosses. Each one has prosecuted bad guys before a judge. Either one will give you a fair and professional hearing as a presiding judge.

The primary election will be held on May 21st, 2013, and your vote absolutely matters. In my book, both candidates are already winners for bravely breaking new political ground, and letting the voters decide, instead of the party bosses.

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