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Chester County Republican and Democratic Committees sound off on elections

October 9 is the last day to register in Pennsylvania, and the Chester County Democrat and Republican Committees are doubling down on their efforts to promote their candidates and encourage Chester County residents  to vote. Both Committee offices are located in the borough and encourage residents to visit as well as learn more about the candidates each office supports.

Recent redistricting efforts have transformed the political landscape in Chester County. The Chester County-based Sixth Congressional District, represented by Ryan Costello, flipped from Republican to Democratic when the Supreme Court decided upon the new district lines. The redistricting took place after the Supreme Court ruled Pennsylvania’s original district lines unconstitutionally in favor of the Republican party.

Citing his family, disagreements with Donald Trump and the PA Supreme Court’s decision to rectify districts that had been gerrymandered, Costello decided to not run for re-election. “Gerrymandering” is defined as the manipulation of party lines and constituent electoral representation to favor one’s political party or position.

The Supreme Court deemed the original district lines to be unconstitutional. The court determined that the original district lines unfairly favored the Republican party and did not accurately represent the political demographics of Pennsylvania constituents.

Chester County – and the rest of the Philadelphia suburbs – has long been a reliable Democrat stronghold. Even so, congressional candidates across Chester County are entrenched in tight races for the seats up for reelection.

Thomas Donohue, the executive director of the Republican Committee of Chester County, offered his thoughts on the values and goals of the Republican Committee for the County. Donahue is a West Chester University graduate with a degree in political science.

Donohue described their values to be very similar to the national party. “The party stands for economic opportunity, lower taxes, less government regulation, strong military and in Chester County, open space.” He noted that as long as 80 percent of the Republican residents agree on their core missions, they can usually “agree to disagree” on the remaining 20 percent.

They collaborate with the College Republicans on West Chester University’s campus by providing them with resources and help them find speakers and host debates with the Young Democrats. Donohue emphasized the importance of voter registration and getting college students out to vote amid the issue of low voter participation of college-age citizens.

“They know what’s going on,” he notes, mentioning the accessibility and use of social media among college students who he believes are very politically aware. “But when it comes time to showing up for election day, it just doesn’t happen.”

The Republicans support Scott Wagner in the Pennsylvania governor’s election, who aims to reform the PA tax code, eliminate school property taxes and end sanctuary cities. They also support Lou Barletta for U.S. Senate, outlining that he protects taxpayer money, puts American workers first and is working to solve the opioid crisis.

Dick Bingham, the chair of the Chester County Democratic Committee, gave his thoughts on the values and goals of the Democrats in Chester County:

“One of the things we promote the most on our literature is freedom, fairness and opportunity,” said Bingham in regards to the values of the Committee. “We believe in the all. All people are created equal. We try to be fair to everybody, to all people.”

In terms of the their involvement on West Chester University’s campus, Bingham noted the Young Democrats organization and their connection with the Democratic Committee.

“Voter registration is a very important dimension,” he emphasized. He described the low national percentage of college-age voters as “disappointing and surprising,” but something the Committee is trying to remedy.

“There are so many things going on, but many people think their vote doesn’t count, which is absolutely not true.” To emphasize, he mentioned Carolyn Comitta’s 2016 state representative run — which she won by 25 votes.

In West Chester, Democratic State Representative Carolyn Comitta and Republican Nicholas Deminski are running for the 156th district seat this season. Though no polling information is available, the race is expected to be close for Comitta this season.

Comitta supports universal background checks for gun purchases, and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the World Information Transfer, and environmental NGO to the United Nations. She seeks to strengthen ethics laws by banning gifts to legislators, pledging to refuse her own pay if the legislature fails to pass a budget.

Deminski was a fundraiser for David’s Drive 831 that benefits homeless and hospitalized veterans. He seeks to combat the opioid epidemic and improve the infrastructure in Chester county.

One of Pennsylvania’s two U.S. Senate seats is up for reelection. Democratic incumbent Bob Casey is facing Republican challenger Lou Barletta. Casey previously served as the state’s Auditor General and Treasurer prior to becoming a U.S. Senator in 2007. Barletta currently represents the 11th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The latest polls show a sizable gap between the two candidates, with Casey most likely retaining his seat.

Polling data collected from Franklin and Marshall’s September poll, NBC news, Morning Call and Rasmussen Reports show Casey leading the race by 16 points.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported voting statistics, by region and age, in 2016. According to their study, numbers of voters ages 18-24 varied by region, often in the lowest two to three brackets above voters older than 75.  In 1976 — the first election that 18-year-olds were allowed to vote in since given the right in 1972 —  only 18 percent of youth voters (those aged 18-24) voted. In the 2016 election, the youth vote was 50 percent of the total number of voters.

The Republican Committee of Chester County is located on 15 South High Street in the West Chester borough. For further questions regarding activity and involvement, students are encouraged to visit the office, or email Thomas Donohue at tdonohue@republicanccc.com.

The Chester County Democratic Committee can be found at 37 South High St., and students can email Dick Bingham with questions at chair@chescodems.org. Students are also encouraged to stop by the office with questions about involvement or about the party’s activity in Chester County. For more information on poll counts and the sources of polls taken, students can visit realclearpolitics.com.

Sam Walsh  is a third-year student majoring in special education and English with a minor in Autism studies. SW850037@wcupa.edu.

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