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County Hall Corner: On Your Mark…Get Set…

Yes, yes, I know it is a long time out, but believe me, it will be here before we know it. I am speaking about the upcoming Primary Election on April 23rd and the General Election on November 5th. Many political prognosticators, who are wiser than I am, believe this might be one of the most important election years in decades. Throughout this year, I want to sprinkle some thoughts about who will be on the ballot and why we should care. In that vein, there are three particular races that we should begin to focus on.

The race for Pennsylvania Attorney General is open as the current PA AG is Michelle A. Henry, who was appointed to the position in March of last year by Governor Josh Shapiro and has chosen not to run. The Democrats have five people running for the office, and the Republicans have three.

Eugene DePasquale is the most recognized among the Dems, a former two-term Pennsylvania Auditor General. However, he lost in an election for the PA House in 2020 to Scott Perry and thus seems vulnerable. The other four, Joe Khan, Keir Bradford-Grey, Jared Solomon, and Jack Stollsteimer, are all from the Philadelphia area, and all seem to be focused on abortion rights. If this is truly the prime focus for Democrats, my money would be on Keir Bradford-Grey as she is the only female in the field and also would become the first Black attorney general in Pennsylvania.

The Republican side of the slate features York County District Attorney Dave Sunday, Pennsylvania State Representative (Delaware/Chester) Craig Williams, and Former Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun “Kat” Copeland. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Kat Copeland in September of last year and was quite impressed. She was born to an Iranian mother and an American father and lived in Iran when the revolution took place in 1979. As a teenager at the time, she showed a backbone even then by standing up to the Muslim radicals who tried to intimidate her for being an American. Copeland continued to show that grit as a prosecutor for 30 years and served as the Chief of the Criminal Division in the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Dave Sunday and Craig Williams seem solid by their bios, but I believe they will have themselves a real challenger with this lady. She fights for the right.

The race for US Senator will be the incumbent Democrat Bob Casey Jr., seeking a fourth term, already Pennsylvania’s longest-ever serving Democrat in the Senate. The Republicans will undoubtedly choose David McCormick, who lost to Mehmet Oz in the Republican primary in 2022 by fewer than 1000 votes for the Senate seat previously held by Pat Toomey. I heard Oz twice in person, and my wife had a ten-to-twelve-minute one-on-one with him at one of those gatherings (I enjoyed listening), and I thought he would make a good senator. Yet even my wife and I still had some doubts, and we must not have been the only ones given the outcome of the race.

The Republicans have been going through buyer’s remorse ever since, and it would seem McCormick will benefit from it. Yet, it is difficult to make a call one way or the other as McCormick has a strong base and campaigns well, but the challenge of Dr. Oz was not handled as well as it could have been. He better have a better team this time. Senator Casey has only incumbency to base his race on, but to be honest, he does not have any signature legislation that he can point to. This race is really hard to figure out and might come down to the measure of desire for change in the political climate.

And, of course, the one race everyone is watching will be for the US presidency between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. There is general agreement among the pollsters that the three key toss-up states are Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. And of these three, Pennsylvania is considered the most important in terms of electoral college votes as well as the closeness of the race itself. The most recent polls in our state almost have Biden and Trump running neck and neck. Given that, it probably means we should expect to see a lot of both presidential candidates in the coming months, and who knows, they may even find their way to Lycoming County.

Yet, a lot may change between now and the November election. President Biden’s health may become a factor, and he may step down. Donald Trump’s legal challenges may actually work and knock him out of the race. Who would replace them? Good question, and it won’t be the last question we will be asking as the 2024 political campaigns unfold.