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Preate Havey Tries To Revive Montco GOP

July 7, 2018

Elizabeth Preate Havey has a tough job. She has to reverse a trend that started more than 15 years ago. Long ago, Republicans won statewide elections by dominating voting in the four counties that ring Philadelphia. Their ability to win big in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties neutralized Democrats’ huge voting advantage in the state’s largest city.. In Montgomery County, Republicans started losing their registration advantage 16 years ago when Democratic former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell ran for governor. By 2008, when Democratic U.S. Sen. Barack Obama ran for president, Montco had more Democrats in a presidential election — by a lot. As of the May primary election this year, Democrats outnumbered Republicans there by more than 61,000 voters. Now, Democratic candidates like U.S. Sen. Bob Casey pile huge votes in Montco and the other ring counties on top of their huge margins in Philadelphia. This means they can usually worry less about what happens elsewhere. Naturally, the Montco Republicans needed someone from Lackawanna County to fix things. As their new chairwoman, they picked Preate Havey in late May. She’s the daughter of former state attorney general Ernie Preate. She’s also a lawyer at Dilworth Paxson LLP, the same firm that employed Casey’s father, former Gov. Robert P. Casey Sr. Montco’s old Republican guard put up attorney Tom Ellis as its candidate, but he withdrew amid accusations of past sexual harassment and physical abuse. Ellis threw his support behind another woman, Lauren Casper, but she never actually got in the race. Then Ellis backed former state Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman, but Preate Havey clobbered her to win the job. Preate Havey, who was chairwoman of the Republican Party in Lower Merion Twp. and Narberth the past few years, plans to concentrate on winning municipal races. “We still have 206,000 registered Republicans in Montgomery County. We need to focus on them to generate more turnout from them and also to help win more local races,” she said. Rebuild the party at the roots, and hope it grows, basically. She’s under no illusions about the difficulty of reversing the trend, but said, “We certainly can do better than we’ve been doing.” “It’s going to take time and a lot of work, but I’m energized by the enthusiasm and number of people who are calling me and offering to help,” Preate Havey said. Miscellanea ■ After Scranton native Frank C. Carlucci died June 3, The Times-Tribune wrote a story about his role in helping the Wyoming Valley recover from the June 1972 Agnes Flood. We wondered if President Richard Nixon’s response to the local flood played a role in how well he did in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties in the November 1972 presidential election against Democratic Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota. Almost certainly, the election influenced Nixon’s appointment of Carlucci as his liaison on the Agnes Flood between Washington and Wyoming Valley officials like legendary Rep. Dan Flood. From January 1971 to December 1972, Carlucci served as director of Nixon’s Office of Economic Opportunity, the office meant to manage all the programs created under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty initiative. Carlucci had that job when Nixon appointed him to handle Agnes. (Carlucci had succeeded Donald Rumsfeld in that job. Both later served as secretaries of defense — Carlucci in President Ronald Reagan’s second term, Rumsfeld, rather controversially, under President George W. Bush.) Nixon, always politically paranoid, didn’t want headlines saying he ignored Northeast Pennsylvania flood victims, who did plenty of squawking in the early days of the flood recovery. Having a local guy in charge meant Nixon not only would have someone who knew the area, but also a local native he could blame if the flood recovery went askew. With Dan Flood around, Carlucci, only 41 at the time, hardly could have screwed it up. Anyway, it is hard to believe Carlucci’s presence helped Nixon much in Luzerne or Lackawanna counties because his 1972 re-election victory was so massive. Nixon won heavily Democratic Pennsylvania by 19.98 percentage points and won every county but Philadelphia. Nationwide, he won everywhere but Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. Nixon won Luzerne County by 22.62 percentage points (81,358 votes to 51,128 for McGovern), a slightly higher percentage than statewide. So maybe you can argue Nixon’s flood focus helped him here. Nixon won Lackawanna by only 12.76 percentage points (58,838 to 45,465), a much lower percentage than the state as a whole, but Agnes barely scratched Lackawanna. Nixon and Reagan remain the only two Republican presidential candidates to win Lackawanna County since 1960. ■Sue Henry became the latest local ex-broadcaster to enter politics when she announced her candidacy June 8 for the 121st state House District seat. Henry, a former WILK talk-show host and reporter for The Citizens Voice in Wilkes-Barre, replaced Gregory Wolovich as the Republican nominee. Wolovich bowed out to let her run. The list of ex-broadcasters turned pols includes state 114th District Democratic Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, a former sportscaster for WBRE-TV; Frank Andrews Shimkus, a television and radio broadcaster who served as a state representative and returned to broadcasting last October on WILK; former Lackawanna County Commissioner Bob Cordaro, who hosted sports programs on one of his radio stations; and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (not the ESPN/NBC sports guy), who served as a sportscaster and weatherman at WNEP-TV about 1976-1977. Former county Commissioner Corey O’Brien hosted his own television talk show before he ran. He returned to TV as an analyst for WNEP after he quit as commissioner. The late James McNulty hosted radio and television programs after he served a term as Scranton mayor. Chuck Volpe ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1994 and state Senate in 2010, and successfully for a county home rule charter commission in 2013 before starting his politics show on WOLF-TV. ■ One last story about Bill McAndrew, the man about town and master of attracting publicity who died June 5. Former Scranton Mayor Gene Peters said he and McAndrew traveled to Philadelphia in October 1979 to attend the open-air Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II. Peters wondered, why bother going with a million people expected to show up? “Don’t worry, I’ll get you in,” McAndrew told Peters. They sat in the front row and Peters touched the pope’s hand as he walked by. Peters thinks McAndrew knew a Philadelphia priest. “How he did it, I don’t know,” he said. BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Times-Tribune politics reporter, writes Random Notes.

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