Changing of the guard for state GOP leadership?

Stradley Ronon lawyer/Chester County GOP chair Val DiGiorgio
Photo credit: Curt Schroder

Stradley Ronon lawyer/Chester County GOP chair Val DiGiorgio Photo credit: Curt Schroder

Sources say two names are emerging as strong favorites to replace longtime state Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason.

Stradley Ronon lawyer Val DiGiorgio, who chairs the Chester County GOP, and Lawrence Tabas, an attorney with Center City Philadelphia’s Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, and who also serves as counsel for the state party, were both acknowledged as strong contenders for chair.

"I have been approached by a number of legislative and party leaders about running for state Republican Party Chairman next year,” DiGiorgio wrote in an email. “I am seriously considering running for the post next year.”

He said Chester had become “one of the most successful GOP counties in the state” under his leadership.

Tabas left his future prospects open ended.

"I have been encouraged that so many members hope that I continue to serve the Party in the future," he said. "However, my immediate focus through the rest of 2016 is to do my part for our Republican ticket."

Stradley chairman William Sasso, a major Republican fundraiser, acknowledged both men as likely candidates. Unsurprisingly, he threw his support behind his colleague.

“Val has exercised tremendous leadership in Chester County,” he said. “He has the respect of people from every different ideological stripe. It’s good to have two good candidates, but Val is Southeastern Pennsylvania’s choice.”

The push for leadership change comes amid continued discontent over last year’s disastrous judicial showing by Republicans, which saw Democrats score an overwhelming majority on the state Supreme Court. In addition to impacting court decisions for years to come, the win will likely give Democrats final say over the next political redistricting fight, still four years away.

Some sources placed blame for defeat at the feet of Gleason and the committee’s failure to focus resources on judicial races. Others pointed to a gulf between the state party and increasingly influential Republican legislative leaders, like State Senate President Joe Scarnati and State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman.

Others grumbled that the committee had repeatedly selected statewide candidates that were too ideologically conservative to win in swing vote areas, like Southeastern PA. The push for the ascension of either DiGiorgio or Tabas to the committee’s top slot would appear to remedy some of those complaints.

Megan Sweeney, spokesperson for the state party, said it was too early to discuss possible leadership changes ahead of board elections next February. She did not say whether Gleason would stand for another term as chair.

“Chairman Gleason hasn’t made any announcements regarding next year’s state chairman election,” Sweeney said.”Right now, he’s focused on electing our 2016 candidates.”