Another Lebanon County man has thrown his hat into the ring in a campaign to chair the Republican Committee.
William Dougherty, a sales and marketing executive from South Annville Township, announced his candidacy for the position in late June. Dougherty has served eight years on the Republican Committee and two on the executive committee.
He will contend for the position with Lebanon resident Edward Lynch Jr., a marketing director for a property and casualty insurance firm. Lynch has served on the Republican Committee for 18 years, including eight on the executive committee.
Both men have run successful campaigns for other candidates — Lynch managed campaigns for County Commissioner Robert J. Phillips, city Mayor Sherry Capello, and state Senator Dave Arnold, while Dougherty managed campaigns for County Commissioner Bill Ames and state Rep. Frank Ryan.
Each man hopes to replace Casey Long, who informed the committee in March that he wouldn’t seek a fourth two-year term as chairman. Long has endorsed Lynch to be his successor.
Dougherty announced his bid for the seat in a letter to GOP committee members on Monday (PDF).
In an interview Tuesday, June 30, Dougherty said he was moved to run because of problems with the current leadership.
“Over the last few years that I’ve been involved with the committee, I’ve seen some things that I didn’t like happen, most often during campaign seasons, and I don’t think that it’s up to the committee to guide those things that happened,” he said. “I saw some things that I thought were really ugly and hurt the Republican brand locally.”
Asked for specifics, Dougherty said the committee has gotten too involved in “choosing sides” and “criticizing other Republican candidates.”
“I would like to see the Republican brand be one of integrity and fairness,” he said.
If elected, Dougherty said his short-term goal “is to work hard to get Donald Trump reelected. That’s the next three, four months.”
Afterwards, he said, “my number-one goal is to increase participation.” Local participation by committee members “seems to dwindle” when there are competitive races for open seats, he said.
“For the 2019 commissioners’ race, participation at the district meeting was four people out of 14,” he said. “Participation at executive meetings was down to barely making a quorum.
“The feedback I’m getting from people is, they don’t like the way things were handled, so they weren’t participating. I’d like to change that. … I would be open to competitive races. I would like to see the Republican voters of Lebanon County be given a choice … and not have candidates be anointed.”
Longer-term goals include increasing outreach to minority communities and focusing more on local elections for school and municipal boards, he said.
Lynch said Tuesday he has been approached “over the last several years” by “numerous committee members and community leaders” who asked him to run for the committee chairman spot.
“Based on the campaigns I’ve run … it’s a good time for me to do it,” he said.
“My goal is to bring unity within the party, especially with the presidential election this fall and to ensure the victory of President Trump,” he added. “It’s a good time to find common ground within the party.”
Lynch also said fundraising “is a very important job of the county chairman.” He noted the committee’s annual operating budget is $30,000, and “through my experience with campaigns over the last several years, I’ve established contacts. It would help me be a successful fundraiser.”
He, too, said he would like the committee to focus more on local races for school boards, township boards and borough councils.
“Not as much effort has been put into recruiting new, young people to run for those offices,” he said. “We need to build on that energy.”
At the same time, he added, “I would never actively recruit other individuals to run against incumbents. In the past, that has cast a negative light on the committee.”
There are plenty of other tasks to occupy the chairman’s time without dividing party members, Lynch said.
“There are always going to be elections, every year. There’s always work to be done,” he said.
Both candidates said they would have no problem cooperating with the other, whichever of them wins.
“I like Ed Lynch as a person. I have no problem with Ed Lynch,” Dougherty said. “The primary reason I put my name out there is to give people a choice.”
“I have no problems with Bill submitting his letter for consideration. I welcome the challenge,” said Lynch. “All officers are elected by secret ballot, which is good, so no one can say they were pressured to vote a certain way. I believe we would be able to work together.”
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.
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Full Disclosure: The campaigns of Bill Ames, Dave Arnold, Bob Phillips, and Frank Ryan were advertisers on LebTown during the previous election cycle. Ames Home Services and the campaign of Frank Ryan are 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.