On Politics: Democrats send Wolf a petition; candidate will try to call every new 16th district voter; and local teen runs for governor |


Lancaster Democrats are challenging two Republican senators’ pick for a county judicial vacancy.

And in election news, congressional candidates are preparing for new district boundaries, and a teenager from Lancaster County entered the Kansas governor’s race.

Here are those updates and more from the political scene in Lancaster County and beyond.

‘Cut off at the knees’

Lancaster Democrats voted unanimously at their candidate endorsement meeting this week to send a petition to Gov. Tom Wolf — asking him to accept the upcoming recommendation of the Lancaster Bar Association in filling a Lancaster County Court vacancy.

Longtime committeeman Greg Paulson, in an impassioned pitch at the meeting, said Republican Sens. Ryan Aument and Scott Martin — who recommended Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman to Wolf — aren’t lawyers or members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and aren’t considering the bar association’s vetting.

“The two Republican state senators who are trying to get control of our county’s government and doing things behind closed doors need to be cut off at the knees,” said Paulson, whose resume includes chief of staff to Rep. Mike Sturla, former Lancaster Bar Association president and state Senate candidate who ran against Martin in 2016.

Aument and Martin have vigorously defended their process for vetting 10 applicants and eventually recommending Stedman, who they said has “unparalleled practical skills” for the job.

Calling all voters

Congressional candidates are eagerly awaiting the newly drawn district maps, which will force them — in mid-campaign — to reach thousands of new voters in vast areas outside their current districts.

Lancaster Democrat Jess King says she wants to contact every single new voter in the 16th Congressional District in one weekend.

“Once the new map is released, we need to hit the ground running at full speed,” her campaign said in a notice on her website.

Her campaign intends to recruit 500 volunteers to call voters on Feb. 24 and 25.

Christina Hartman, a Democrat also seeking the 16th district seat held by Republican U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, has been citing the unprecedented redistricting situation in fundraising emails to supporters.

“Six days from now, we will be running in a newly-drawn PA-16,” her campaign team wrote on Tuesday. “It might be redder. It might be bluer. But it will be fairer. And it will have new cities and towns full of voters who don’t know Christina.”

L-S grad in Kansas race

A 2017 Lampeter-Strasburg High School graduate is running for governor, but not in Pennsylvania.

Conner Shelton, an 18-year-old University of Delaware student, said his campaign for governor of Kansas is “an experiment of sorts,” the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

He told the Capital-Journal he was inspired to run because he has friends in the state and he wanted to see how the process worked.

Shelton is the seventh teenager to enter the race in Kansas, which has no minimum age or residency requirement for gubernatorial candidates. He is the only one, though, from outside the state.

7th District field grows

The field of candidates vying to replace U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan is getting even more crowded as the 7th Congressional District boundaries remain in limbo.

Republicans running or potentially running include veteran Joseph Billie, tax attorney Greg McCauley, attorney Jeremy H. Gonzalez Ibrahim, former attorney general senior deputy counsel Pearl Kim, former assistant U.S. attorney Clare Putnam Pozos, developer Wally Smerconish and Radnor Township Commissioner Richard Booker, according to the Delaware County Daily Times.

The Democrats running are state Rep. Greg Vitali, realtor Elizabeth Moro, lawyer Dan Muroff, biomedical researcher Molly Sheehan, former CIA officer Shelly Chauncey and former U.S. Attorney Ashley Lunkenheimer. State Sen. Daylin Leach suspended his campaign in December.

‘Simply unacceptable’

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, in a budget committee hearing this week, told the White House’s top budget official that the government shutdowns are “simply unacceptable” and that “it’s difficult to even argue that the federal budget process is working.”

Smucker was among a minority of Republicans to vote against the federal budget last week. While questioning Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Smucker compared the federal budget process to Pennsylvania’s when he served in the state Senate.

He said the federal process is “very decentralized” and there’s “not a lot of accountability.”

Lt. gov. changes

As former local Rep. Gordon Denlinger dropped out of the Republican primary race for lieutenant governor this week, another Republican jumped in.

Gubernatorial candidate Paul Mango announced Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan will run for lieutenant governor and run alongside him as his unofficial running mate.

Denlinger had been officially running for the position for less than two months but was publicly considering it for about a year.

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