Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Montco GOP Has Campaign to Try to Regain Voter Majority

One thing that Bob Kerns is concentrating on, the thing that former chair, Ken Davis, never really ever got off the ground, is the effort to bring Republicans who switched to vote in the primary back to the proverbial "fold".

Bob's proposed effort, "Welcome Home", was announced at a press conference on the courthouse steps at noon yesterday.

Riley Yates, of the Morning Call, reports:

Officials say party locally has done well for residents.

By Riley Yates
Of The Morning Call
July 23, 2008

Come back to the fold, Montgomery County Republicans are pleading with former GOP voters.

Socked by voter discontent and no longer the majority party among residents, county Republicans on Tuesday held a news conference to unveil a registration effort aimed at winning back those who switched to the Democratic Party before April's presidential primary.

The message: Forget about national politics and remember that the suburbs have long been GOP territory and a good place to live.

''The quality of life in our county is so high because of Republican government,'' said Robert Kerns, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee. ''I hope voters will recognize that and, whatever their national politics may be, register Republican here in Montgomery County.''

Democrats enjoy a more than 15,000-registration edge in the county, a sea change from the days when Republicans held an advantage of 2-1 or more. Of 566,113 voters, 252,468 are registered Democrats, compared with 237,376 Republicans, according to the Voter Services Department.

Kerns announced the ''Welcome Back'' effort from the steps of the county courthouse. The county GOP has seven paid workers to approach voters who went Democratic from the GOP in the hopes of persuading them to return.

One example: The party's Web site prominently features a button for voters to request a change of registration form. (Click link below to read the rest of the article)

Montgomery County Democrats called the shift toward them a ''historic figure'' given that Democrats were outnumbered by 30,700 registrations before the 2007 general election.

Democrats said there's no evidence voters are going back to Republicans now that Pennsylvania's hard-fought Democratic contest between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is past.

Since the primary, Democratic rolls have continued to increase faster than the GOP's, according to county Voters Services.

Democrats have had 3,160 new registrations and 2,860 voters who switched parties in favor of them. Republicans have had 1,284 new registrations and 866 switches toward them, the department said.

''By and large, Republican voters did not switch to play havoc with the Democratic primary as Rush Limbaugh would have you think,'' Montgomery County Democratic Chairman Marcel Groen said. ''Neither did they switch on a lark to vote in a more exciting primary.

''They switched because the Democratic Party is offering better candidates and because the Democratic Party is on the right side of the issues that Americans -- Republican and Democratic -- care about.''

It will be difficult for the GOP to regain a majority of registrations any time soon in Montgomery, said Christopher Borick, a political scientist at Allentown's Muhlenberg College. It is discontent over national politics in recent years, and not the excitement of the primary, that led most voters to switch, he said.

''When people actually take the time to register for something, it shows they feel strongly enough to want to mark themselves as that,'' Borick said. ''It probably didn't come as a light decision for them.''

County Commissioner Bruce Castor, a Republican, said ''we'll have to see'' how many return to the GOP. To recapture a majority of registrations, ''it is going to be a long road to go, but I think it's possible,'' he said.

He noted that Forbes Magazine this year named Montgomery County one of America's 20 best places to raise a family.

''That's because of Republican government and the Republicans made that the way it is,'' Castor said. ''And when people learn that, maybe they're realize that we are more than the party of the president; we're the party they support.''
Copyright © 2008, The Morning Call

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