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Rep. Mehaffie says he won't apply to fill Folmer's seat in state Senate

By Dan Miller

Posted 10/2/19

Matthew J. Brouillette, president and CEO of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, announced his candidacy Sept. 25 for state Senate from the 48th District.

He is the first candidate to …

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Rep. Mehaffie says he won't apply to fill Folmer's seat in state Senate


Matthew J. Brouillette, president and CEO of Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, announced his candidacy Sept. 25 for state Senate from the 48th District.

He is the first candidate to officially announce his intentions to replace Mike Folmer, who resigned last week after being charged with several counts related to child pornography.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Lower Swatara Township, told the Press & Journal on Monday that he has “no intent” to apply to the party to fill the seat.

“My full focus is 100 percent on representing the 106th District,” Mehaffie said.

He was first elected in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018 to his house seat.

Republicans interested in the seat must apply to the party by this Friday, Oct. 4, according to a press release put out by the state GOP on Sept. 30.

The state Republican Party will hold a “conferee meeting” on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Lebanon Valley College to determine who the party will nominate to fill the remainder of Folmer’s term for the 48th District seat.

There will be 72 conferees attending the meeting who will make that decision. The majority — 41 — are from Lebanon County, 17 are from York County and 14 from Dauphin County, according to the state party release.

The number of conferees from each county is based upon electoral results of the 2016 presidential election, the party said.

A similar process is planned by the state Democratic Party to fill the seat, according to spokeswoman Sincere Harris.

The party will hold a joint-nominating convention among the three counties that make up the 48th on Oct. 20.

A candidate will be recommended for approval by the state Democratic committee’s executive committee, Harris told the Press & Journal in an email.

Brouillette said in a press release he is running “because the people of the 48th District deserve a strong conservative voice who is ready to take on the tough policy battles that lie ahead, to go on offense against those who destroy our American way of life, and to fight relentlessly to advance educational and economic opportunity for all Pennsylvanians. This is a fight I’ve long been engaged in, and I’m ready to take to the Capitol.”

The 48th Senate District covers Lebanon County and parts of York and Dauphin counties, including Highspire, Londonderry Township, Middletown, Lower Swatara Township, Royalton and Steelton.

A special election will be held Jan. 14, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman announced last week.

The York Dispatch reported that three other GOP candidates are eyeing a run: Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold; Greg Moreland, chairman of the Lebanon County Young Republicans; and Bill Bering, a real estate business owner and Lebanon County GOP committee member.

One candidate from Dauphin County has expressed interest in the seat to the county Republican Committee, its chairman, Dave Feidt, told the Press & Journal on Thursday. The person does not yet wish to be identified, Feidt said.

The York Dispatch also said multiple Democrats are interested in running but did not list names.

From 2002 to 2016, Brouillette served as president and CEO of Commonwealth Foundation, a widely recognized free-market think tank.

He also is a board president of the Joshua Group, a Harrisburg-based non-profit serving at-risk youth, and a board member of the REACH foundation, a Pennsylvania school choice advocacy organization.

He and his wife, DanaRae, live in North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, where he serves as a Republican committeeman. They have four children: two in college, one at a traditional public high school, and one homeschooled.

For many years, he was heard on WHP 580 AM filling in for the late Bob Durgin. In 2016, he joined with entrepreneurs statewide to launch Commonwealth Partners Chamber of Entrepreneurs, which engages entrepreneurs to lead free-market political and policy change in Pennsylvania. His columns also have appeared occasionally in the Press & Journal.

Folmer resigned Sept. 18, one day after being charged by the state attorney general’s office after authorities executing a search warrant found two images of apparent child pornography on Folmer’s Apple iPhone, according to the criminal complaint.

Folmer is charged with four felonies including sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography, and criminal use of a communication facility.

Folmer had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Thursday, Sept. 26. However, his preliminary hearing has now been pushed back to Oct. 31, according to online court records.

The Oct. 31 preliminary hearing for Folmer is scheduled for 8 a.m. in the courtroom of Lebanon County  District Judge Thomas M. Capello.

Folmer was arrested at his home in Lebanon County. He is free after posting $25,000 bail, according to online court records.

How the special election works

One Democrat and one Republican will be nominated to be on the ballot, through a process run by the respective state Democratic and Republican parties.

For example, representatives from the Republican and Democratic parties in the three counties that make up the 48th Senate District seat — Dauphin, Lebanon and York — will independently come together for a meeting to consider party members who want to be nominated for the seat, party officials told the Press & Journal.

From the meeting held by each state Democratic and Republican parties, one person will be nominated to be on the ballot.

Candidates from other parties can also seek to be on the ballot but must gather signatures and submit nomination parties by a deadline, said Wanda Murren, communications director for the Department of State.

A candidate who is not nominated by either the Democrat or Republican parties can still seek to win the 48th Senate District seat by running a write-in campaign.

Scott Wagner, for example, was elected to the state Senate by running a write-in campaign during a special election to fill a vacant seat in York County that was held in March 2014.

Key dates for the special election

Sept. 25: First day for political parties and minor political candidates to nominate candidates by filing nomination certificates; first day for political bodies to circulate and file nomination papers nominating candidates.

Nov. 25: Last day to file nomination certificates and nomination papers. The number of signatures required on nomination papers to be filed by candidates of political bodies for the Special Election for the 48th Senatorial District is 1,208.

Dec. 2: Last day to file objections; last day for Commonwealth Court to set a hearing on objections; last day to file substituted nomination certificates.

Dec. 15: Last day for the secretary of the commonwealth to certify names and residence of all candidates.

Dec. 16: Last day to register to vote before the election.

Jan. 7: Last day on which official applications for civilian absentee ballots may be received by the county board of elections.

Jan. 10: All absentee ballots must be received by the county board of elections not later than 5 p.m. on this day to be counted.

Jan. 21: Last day for county boards of elections to receive voted military and overseas absentee ballots.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of State