Dems mailer crossed the line in 158th race

Both parties deserve hit for tone and conduct of 2016 campaign

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

timespoliticsunusualAnd so, finally, it comes to an end.

There’s little glory to be had by either party — whether you look at the national operations, or the local county parties — as no one has much to be proud of for the their conduct and willful deceptions in advertising.

While there is a price to be paid for that — that is a discussion for another time, post-election.

Where the usual “he said, she said” goes beyond that is something we saw on a mailer by the House Democratic Campaign Committee going after Eric Roe, the State Representative candidate in the 158th District.

Democrats spent much of the week on the war path about whether Roe meets residency requirements and filed criminal charges, alleging voter fraud. We covered it, in a story that gave both the Democrats’ allegation and a rebuttal and denial of the charges by the GOP.

Nasty — but, unfortunately, the way politics is now played.

The problem comes from a mail piece sent out from the House Democratic Campaign Committee which used quotes from our publication — and from a story I wrote — in a deceptive way. The first two quotes were fractions of a larger passage representing both the allegation and the denial — specifically, county GOP chair Val DiGiorgio’s suggestion that the charge is “ridiculous.” Bad, but only about a 7 on the 1-to-10 weasel meter.

The third quote is a quoted statement from Chester County Democratic Committee Chair Brian McGinnis — expressing a rather negative opinion about Roe’s eligibility — but attributed to us, so as to appear as if it was something we — or I — wrote. That’s about a 14 on that same 1-to-10 scale.

When I got word of this mailer, I was furious. We weren’t then — and aren’t now — passing judgment on Roe’s residency. We just reported the allegations that led to criminal charges being filed — no different than we might for any other pending criminal case. I assume an investigation will determine whether the charges are valid or not.

DiGiorgio and the Republicans are understandably angry — and DiGiorgio called for us to withdraw our endorsement of Susan Rzucidlo — the Democrat running against Roe.

My first call after finding out about the mailer was to Rzucidlo — to make it plain how unhappy I was. She said she was surprised to hear about the contents of the mailer.

I asked her about her involvement:

“I was notified NOT consulted about the recent negative mailer that the HDCC and CCDC put out against my opponent,” she said in an email describing what happened. “This was done with their money and their legal counsel.

This is not the kind of mailer that I have ever put out.  I have been focused on the issues that face the people of the 158th, putting out position papers, sending letters to the editor, calling voters, and knocking more than 11,000 doors. In all the years that I have run I have never run an ad like this and I would not. It crossed the line.

When I put out a statement or mail piece, I sign my name to it. I won’t hide behind someone else. People who know me know that is true.

There has been a lot of line crossing in this election from both sides, but I want to make sure that voters know that the only literature that I have control over is that literature that says ‘Paid For By Susan Rzucidlo.’  If a piece of mail says that then you know it is from me. Otherwise, look at the paid for by statement to know who developed that piece of mail or that advertisement. 

This election cycle has been ugly and awful. I have been working at letting people know that it is better out there than they think it is. That the people of the 158th are interested in learning about this race and I am interested in hearing from them what they need and want from a state legislator.” 

DiGiorgio and the Republicans aren’t mollified by this — and DiGiorgio again called for us to withdraw our endorsement of Rzucidlo. Republicans note that her finance reports show in-kind contributions from HDCC, including the mailer.

At the end of the day, we choose to take Rzucidlo at her word and lay the blame on HDCC and Chester County Democratic Party.

We have given the GOP the opportunity to offer their side of things — agreeing to run their press release on the issue. It is unedited and run as submitted and can be found here.

So, there you have it.


Although right now, I feel like an eight year old caught up in the worst divorce custody battle in the history of ever — probably something a lot of voters can relate to right now — soon, it will be over after Election Day.

The key thing is after surviving this is to make sure you vote on Tuesday.

There are multiple options on the Web to guide you to your local polling place. If you are a new registered voter — especially one who registered in the final week — and are worried, a couple of words of advice: bring your photo ID and even if challenged or are told you are not registered, ask to cast a provisional ballot. With the recent questions about registrations by FieldWorks, it is possible some legitimate registrations will be discarded — as Republicans claim voter fraud took place.

While it seems likely that FieldWorks was filing fake registrations — a bigger issue for the Democrat-leaning groups that hired them — it was done to fill quotas and get paid, not to cause voter fraud. Numerous experts note that first time voters need ID that matches their voting address, making the false registrations useless for anyone wanted to commit voter fraud.

Also important to note: a Federal judge threw out an attempt by the state Republican Party to allow out of county residents to serve as poll watchers — so anyone with a poll watching certificate in a Chester County poll must be from Chester County. Still, there is some concern that folks from either party may engage in voter intimidation at the polls.

County Democratic leaders called on Republicans to abide by the Republican National Committee 1982 consent decree and accept the results of the election, concerns they say are based on comments from GOP nominee Donald Trump.

“We call on the Chester County Republican Committee leadership and Committeepersons to request that their partisans respect the rights of voters of all parties on Tuesday and abide by the RNC consent decree, which is enforceable against them, and to abide by any other Court orders that are announced in the coming days, including Election Day,” said CCDC Chair McGinnis.

“We may disagree with political views of the Republican Party, but as Americans we should all be able to agree to respect the outcome of this election, a peaceful transfer of power and Democracy itself, as has been the case throughout our history as a country. No one, no party and no candidate should be attempting to undermine the well-deserved faith in democracy and our democratic institutions.”

Will there be issues? It’s unclear — but there have been issues at times at some polling places in the last decade, so it’s important to be aware of the situation, exercise patience and know your rights.

If challenged, or not found on voter rolls, you should still cast a provisional ballot. If you don’t — there’s no way for your vote to be counted if the challenge is without merit or you should have been included on the registered voter lists. If you were not eligible to vote, said provisional vote will be cast aside — meaning no harm, no foul.

So while left-leaning groups have been attempting to pad the voter rolls — again with dubious benefit to Democrats — right-leaning groups have been buying Web ads, some in Spanish,  telling people to vote via text, email and phone, which is not possible. In Pennsylvania, you may only vote in person or by excused absentee ballot (and that had to be received by Voter Services by yesterday at 5 p.m.) — that’s it.

In short, you need to go to your local polling place and cast a vote. Both Lyft and Uber are offering free rides to the polls, use the code “Vote PA” if you need a ride on Election Day.

But you must vote in person — don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.

Both Democrats and Republicans have a lot to answer for in undermining the legitimacy of this election, again, another conversation for after this election.

The best way to fight back is to vote.


Enjoy the extra hour of sleep tonight — undoubtedly it may sooth tattered nerves.

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

One Comment

  1. Nathaniel says:

    You mean someone actually looks at those glossy mailers? You can’t even tell, most of the time, who sent and paid for them. Even if you can, it is likely state or national organizations that know nothing about us but whose marketing gurus get a cut of the expenses. Big outside money is the bane of politics.

    Voters can figure out which web sites are genuinely connected to candidates, they can subscribe to emails from local candidates and parties, they can go to forums and debates, and they can talk to their neighbors and precinct committeepersons at any time, including outside the polls.

    Glossy mailers, whether negative or positive, are no substitute for doing homework and listening to real people.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.