Valerie Kean Staab, a former member of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee who resigned last year amid a controversy involving inflammatory social media posts, is reportedly seeking a party leadership position in her native Northwestern Pennsylvania.
Crawford County Democratic Chair Pat Donahue said Staab had told multiple individuals she intended to run for the county chairmanship. Donahue is not seeking another term.
“It’s not a secret. She’s telling people she’s gonna run,” he said. “I haven’t heard anybody else’s name yet...And I’m not against her being chair. I tried to get her before and she said ‘No.’”
Staab did not return multiple press calls. A close confidante of former State Democratic chair Marcel Groen, Staab was tarred by a 2017 scandal involving several Facebook screeds that seemed to question the validity of recent sexual harassment complaints made against elected officials.
“These omg he touched my ass bullshit has to stop,” she wrote, in one instance.
Facing criticism from fellow Democrats, Staab later apologized and said she had not been speaking on behalf of the party. But her statements – and Groen’s perceived inaction – ultimately led to both being forced out of the state party. Staab resigned and Groen, who was enmeshed in several other controversies, was later asked to step down by Gov. Tom Wolf.
With Staab’s reported designs on the Crawford chair, both now appear to be setting their sights on returning to leadership roles at the county level. Groen recently said that he was interested in succeeding Montgomery County chair Joe Foster if he retired – although Foster recently indicated that he would stay on for another term.
Donahue, who operates a tool and die shop, said Staab would likely be a shoo-in for what he described as a thankless job in such a heavily Republican county.
“Politics is not my passion and it's not my passion to be chair; somebody had to do it. I view myself more as a caretaker,” he said. “The Republicans have such a huge voter registration advantage and there’s just nothing changing it. If you don’t have some kind of chance of winning, it’s hard to even fill candidate slots.”
Donahue said he doubted that Staab’s recent imbroglio would impact her viability.
“I don't know, but I don't think so. She’s been such a part of the state party and everyone knows her,” he said.