The former head of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party is looking to ease back into a leadership role after a year of public criticism that ultimately culminated in his ejection from the state party.
Marcel Groen, who chaired the PDP from 2015 until earlier this year, told City & State PA that he’s thinking about seeking the chairmanship of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee at the organization’s June meeting.
“I’ve had a number of friends and political folks contact me about doing it,” Groen said in a phone interview. “At this point, I’ve not made up my mind yet. But, the answer is: yes, I am interested in it.”
Groen has led the MontCo party in the past, first winning the chair in 1994. He said he would wait to see if current chair Joe Foster decided to step down before making a final decision.
“Joe has been a good friend. I wouldn’t run against him,” said Groen.
It’s worth noting that the former state party leader is still emerging from a cloud of controversy that saw Gov. Tom Wolf call for his resignation.
It started after some Democrats assailed Groen for taking a lackadaisical response to a controversial Facebook post penned by a close advisor alleging that some women had exaggerated claims of sexual harassment in politics.
Later, he was dinged over a similarly languid reaction to allegations that state Sen. Daylin Leach had acted inappropriately around campaign staff. In January, Groen passed on a chance to call for Republican U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan to resign following his own sexual harassment scandal, igniting another barrage of criticism.
The final blow, perhaps, came in the form of a cutting Daily News column recounting these purported failings.
Wolf enjoys broad latitude over party leadership – he successfully sought to replace Groen’s immediate predecessor – and it soon became an open secret that the governor wanted Groen gone as well. Groen sent out a personal email announcing his resignation in February, citing a request from Gov. Wolf that he step down. He was succeeded by treasurer Jack Hanna as interim chair - although Nancy Mills is widely expected to be voted in as a permanent replacement.
But Groen says the saga is not on his mind as he prepares to possibly lead his old political haunt once more.
“Every action I’ve ever taken has been for the good of the party,” he said, of his ouster. “I’m not thinking about it at all. And I’ve had tremendous personal support since then.”
But his critics say Groen should be thinking about his past actions.
Among them: Gwen Snyder, the director of organizing at the Philadelphia-based nonprofit activist organization POWER, was directly involved in the effort to remove Groen from his post at the state Democratic Party. She dismissed his viability as a leader at any level due to his past inaction.
“During his time as chair of the PA Dems, Marcel minimized and overlooked the rampant sexual misconduct happening within the party he led,” Snyder said. “He does not belong in any leadership position, especially in the era of #metoo.”
MontCo Democratic Committee members will meet at a reorganization meeting on June 12 to select a new chair.