Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold will be the Republican Party nominee in the special election to replace former state senator Mike Folmer.
Arnold won the nomination in a conferee meeting held today at Lebanon Valley College. According to GOP spokesperson Charlie O’Neill, Arnold received 50 votes in the secret ballot, Matt Brouillette received 20 votes, and State Rep. Russ Diamond (R-102) received two votes.
“I’m looking forward to going through this process,” Arnold said in an interview with LebTown. “I’m looking forward to being the senator for the 48th District.”
“I truly appreciate public service and being able to do that for the last 14 years as DA.”
Arnold has been Lebanon County DA since January 2006. He has also served as the President of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and currently sits on the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission, as well as chairing the Lebanon County Criminal Justice Advisory Board.
According to O’Neill, 72 total conferees participated, including one alternate replacing a conferee who was not able to attend.
“We look forward to working with David Arnold to keep the 48th Senate seat in Republican hands,” said Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Lawrence Tabas in a press release.
“The unique circumstances of a Special Election require a Conferee process to stand as a primary election. Today, following the rules and precedent of previous conferences, the Republican Party is pleased to support David.”
A joint statement was also issued by Republican committee leaders from the counties represented by the 48th Senatorial District. “As County Chairmen of the Pennsylvania Republican Party we have been elected to do all we can to ensure Republican victories in Dauphin, Lebanon, and York Counties,” said Dave Feidt (Dauphin), Casey Long (Lebanon), and Jeff Piccola (York).
The lead up to the conferee meeting had been heated, in part due to the circumstances of this spring’s primary for the Lebanon County Commissioner nomination. Long did not support the re-election of Bill Ames for County Commissioner, instead favoring relative political newcomer Matt Shirk. The race pitted Long against Lebanon County elected officials including State Representatives Russ Diamond (R-102), Frank Ryan (R-101), and Folmer, who ultimately called for Long’s resignation from the chairman position.
Read More of Our In-Depth Coverage: No punches held as Lebanon County Republicans splinter along Commissioners race
In Brouillette’s prepared remarks for a candidate pitch session held by the Lebanon County GOP last Sunday, he said that Casey Long and father, Mike Long, a Harrisburg-based political consultant, were “doing everything they can to keep me out.”
Similar sentiments were visible in the Pennsylvania Capital-Star’s reporting on claims made by Lebanon County Republican Committee members Bill Dougherty and Gordon Tomb, who claimed that by single-handedly choosing conferees, Long had violated state committee bylaws.
“Those claims were completely unfounded,” said Long in an interview with LebTown this afternoon. “The Chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania confirmed that today.”
“I would point out that the other two county chairmans both personally picked their conferees as well,” Long said.
“My claims may be completely unfounded, but it doesn’t make the process right,” said Dougherty in response to Long. “Three men, chose 72 conferees to decide on the person to represent 278,963 citizens of the district with no public questions or comments.” (This paragraph added after publication, see note at bottom.)
“I’m not surprised at the outcome,” said Brouillette in a text to LebTown following today’s meeting. “It’s just as planned and manipulated by the Longs.”
“Who would have expected anything different when the Chooser gets to choose the choosers? I’m just glad there were at least three Lebanon conferees who wouldn’t be bullied into supporting an inferior candidate for the state senate.”
LebTown reached out to Diamond, who declined to comment. In a public Facebook post earlier today before the meeting, Diamond said that, “The PA GOP has done an excellent job in making this process as fair and transparent as possible.”
“I do want to congratulate all the candidates on a good campaign, but obviously there was a clear choice today, not just for Lebanon County but clearly a significant number of votes went to Dave from other counties as well,” said Long.
“I think that’s a great sign for the support that Dave will have in the special election.”
“I don’t really have any comment on the process,” said Arnold. “The people that complained about it, I guess that’s their prerogative to complain that things didn’t go their way. I certainly wouldn’t take that approach if I were in their shoes.”
“I look forward to successfully finishing this race and I have every desire to make sure the party is together and united. It’s critical that the Republicans stay together.”
“We’ll have to do a few things at once,” said Long in regards to the back-to-back election season. “The campaign for senate, for us, starts tomorrow when the Democrats pick their nominee.”
“We’ll be working to get all our great Republican row officers and our Republican commissioners elected in November, with our eye on the Special Election,” said Long.
Long said that this support included both Republican incumbents, Bob Phillips and Bill Ames, the latter of whom Long did not support during the primary campaign (as noted above).
“The biggest thing for me is that I’m active, that all of the voters know going forward what I’ve already done for our citizens, what I plan for our citizens in the future as a senator,” said Arnold.
Democratic electors will convene in a meeting tomorrow at WellSpan Philhaven. Candidates will have a chance to address the caucus for no more than five minutes. Afterwards, the caucus will vote to nominate a candidate.
An informed democracy is a healthy democracy.
We think that an independent press helps our democracy work better. Support our mission of sustaining journalism in Lebanon County by joining LebTown as a member.
Join LebTown as an annual member and you’ll reserve a limited-edition LebTown coffee mug of your own, plus all the usual benefits!
Learn more and join now here.
Full Disclosure: The campaigns of Bill Ames and Bob Phillips are advertisers on LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.
This post was updated at 5pm with comment from Bill Dougherty.