The chairman of the Lebanon County Republican Committee is stepping down after six years in the position.
A local marketing director – who ran successful campaigns for state Senator (and, previously, Lebanon County District Attorney) Dave Arnold, County Commissioner Bob Phillips, and City of Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello – hopes to assume the seat.
Casey Long said he informed the committee in March that he wouldn’t seek a fourth term.
“It’s been a fun six years and I think we’ve accomplished a lot of great things,” Long said Tuesday. “But like a lot of things it’s time for me to move on.”
Lebanon city resident Edward Lynch Jr., who has worked as marketing director for RLD Associates since 2002, wants Long’s seat on the committee. The committee’s reorganization meeting, when a decision on the position will be made, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 9, in the auditorium of the Lincoln Republican Club at 21 S. 9th St.
“I’m confident that Ed Lynch will make a great chairman,” Long said.
Long said he “had discussions in the past with Ed about running, and many of us are pleased that he has decided to run,” he added. “He has a great track record of running successful Republican campaigns in Lebanon County … and he’s also a very well-respected businessman in Lebanon, which I think will help him to raise money for the Republican Party, which is a major function of the committee chairman.”
Rumors of another candidate for the seat could not immediately be confirmed.
“I have not heard of anyone else that is running,” Long said. “No one else has announced.”
Lynch, who has been a member of the Republican Committee since 2002 and a member of the executive committee since 2012, announced his candidacy for the chairman’s seat on June 18.
Besides running successful campaigns for Arnold, Phillips, and Capello, Lynch is finance chair of the Republican Committee and a member of the city Zoning Hearing Board. He also belongs to the Lebanon Lions Club and the Community of Lebanon Association, and is a former member of HACC’s Lebanon Campus Campaign Committee.
Based on an out-of-office reply received by LebTown, Lynch is on vacation this week and could not immediately be reached for comment.
If elected, Lynch said in his June 18 statement, his objectives “for the immediate future of the Lebanon County Republican Party are to support and ensure the re-election of all Republican candidates in 2020, represent the Lebanon County Republican Party with integrity and to restore party unity within the rank and file members of the GOP.”
As chairman, he added, “I would eagerly welcome and encourage input from all members of the Lebanon County Republican Committee and all registered Republican voters who reside in Lebanon County.”
Reached earlier this week, State Rep. Russ Diamond said that Lynch was the only person he knew who was running. During that contact early in LebTown’s reporting process, Diamond did not offer an immediate endorsement, but commented later on Facebook following this article’s publication to note his full support for Lynch’s candidacy.
“I have long worked tirelessly to help bring unity to the Lebanon County Republican Committee. Despite deep differences in the past, our Committee and the entire Republican community is now united as never before,” said Diamond. “Mr. Lynch’s experience will most certainly serve to maintain that unity well into the future and help us continue to experience overwhelming electoral success in the county.”
State Rep. Frank Ryan said Lynch “is a good friend of mine,” and said he’s “very thankful that he’s willing to put his hat in the ring. Ed will work with all sides to bring about great success for our values in the community.”
Commissioner Phillips also said he “will be supporting Ed in his run for chairman, as he is well qualified.” He noted, in the interests of “full disclosure,” that Lynch is his son-in-law.
Senator Arnold and Commissioner Bill Ames did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz said she doesn’t “get involved in Republican Committee politics.”
For his part, Long said he plans to stay active with the GOP.
“I was was re-elected as committeeman in North Londonderry Township,” he said. “I definitely plan to stay involved.”
Long’s terms in office have been at times contentious. In late April 2019, for instance, state Reps. Diamond and Ryan, along with then-Senator Mike Folmer, requested Long’s immediate resignation for his involvement in a mailer they said was “a dishonest and thinly-veiled racist attempt” to underscore a smear campaign against Republican County Commissioner Bill Ames. His efforts, the legislators said in a letter dated April 28, 2019, attempted to “sully the Republican brand and damage the electoral prospects of every Republican candidate in the county.”
In his response, Long declined to resign from the post and criticized the legislators’ “most offensive charge” of racism.
In October 2019, local Republican activists accused Long of mishandling the candidate selection process for a special election to replace Folmer, who resigned after being arrested on child pornography charges.
South Annville committeeman Bill Dougherty said at the time the process “was a sham” after Long alone chose the 41 conferees from Lebanon County who would choose Folmer’s successor. State committee bylaws, Dougherty argued, say conferees must be chosen by county committees. Critics also said Long favored voters who made donations to the county committee’s treasury.
Long countered that the committee “did choose the conferees collectively when they voted to grant me the authority” to make the decision, and said the process was consistent with previous actions by the committee.
Controversy aside, Republican victories were achieved in both the 2019 general election and the special election to replace Folmer. According to 2020 primary registration data, Republican voters outnumber Democratic voters nearly 2:1 in Lebanon County.
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Full Disclosure: The campaigns of Bill Ames, Dave Arnold, Bob Phillips, and Jo Ellen Litz were advertisers on LebTown during previous election cycles. The campaign of Frank Ryan is a current 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 article was updated to include additional comment from state Representative Russ Diamond.