Skip to main content

Chester County Press

Republican Committee endorses Roe as write-in candidate for 158th District

04/05/2016 12:31PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

Between now and April 26, the date the Republican Primary will narrow down the list of candidates for the House seat in the 158th District, Eric Roe will be doing a lot of walking.
He'll have to, because on March 31, members of the 158th House District of the Republican Committee of Chester County voted to endorse Roe as a write-in candidate to replace Kennett Square attorney Leonard Rivera, who dropped out of the race as a write-in candidate, after allegations surfaced that he did not properly acquire petition signatures.
Roe said the walking and knocking on doors he's about to do is not the first time he pounded the pavement for a good cause. In 2008, he weighed over 315 pounds, and in an effort to lose weight, he began a rigorous commitment to fitness that saw him apply ten-pound ankle weights and walk more than eight miles every night after work.
He lost over 100 pounds in less than one year. In the next three weeks, he's likely to lose a few more.
With the support of over 75 volunteers, "I knocked on over 200 doors last weekend, and the support I've been getting has been tremendous," Roe said.
"When I heard the news about Lenny Rivera dropping out of the race, I was reached out to by many of my supporters, who encouraged me to throw my hat back in the ring," said Roe, who originally announced his candidacy last December. "Of course I did. I want to be the next state representative for the 158th. I met with my supporters. I spoke with the committee, and I was really pleased to get the party's support last Thursday night. Grassroots democracy is really a beautiful process to watch and participate in, so I was honored to get the party's trust."
“In Eric Roe, we have a strong and energized candidate with a great resume, who will be an independent common sense voice for families and small business owners in the 158th District. The Republican Committee is steadfast and united in their support of Eric, who will make an outstanding representative and leader,” said Val DiGiorgio, Chairman of the Republican Committee of Chester County. “We will fight hard to ensure that Eric wins the write-in for the upcoming Republican Primary.”
Roe said if elected in November, he'll go to Harrisburg with four major initiatives: to maintain district schools as among the best in the Commonwealth; create business opportunities in Chester County; maintain a commitment to land preservation; and hold the line on tax increases.
"I want to add my voice in Harrisburg to the men and women who are opposing Gov. Wolf's tax-and-spend agenda," he said. "This governor's repeated attempts to raise taxes would have levied hundreds, if not more than one thousand dollars, in new or raised taxes on the average Pennsylvania family. I am a firm believer that Pennsylvania's families know how to spend their hard-earned cash better than this governor does."
Roe, who grew up in East and West Bradford townships, has worked for non-profits and in the private sector for former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff’s homeland security consulting firm. Eric currently works as the administrative analyst for Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, and on Wednesday nights, volunteers at La Communidad in Kennett Square, where he teaches a citizenship class targeted to members of the local Hispanic population who are preparing to take their naturalization tests.
Although he has the backing from his fellow Republicans, Roe still has a fight ahead of him to gain the nomination, given that he's part of a crowded field of write-in candidates. Fellow Republican Perry Bentley announced his write-in campaign for the nomination, as did Democratic candidate Susan Rzucidlo, who is also running as a write-in on the Republican ticket.
"This is a primary election unlike anything I've ever seen," Bentley said. "A write-in campaign over the course of [three weeks] is a very heavy lift, but I looked around and didn't see anyone else who I thought could do the job and win, in such a short period of time.
"I have talked to people who have run write-in campaigns form the level of township supervisors to the mayor of Pittsburgh," Bentley added. "It requires a lot of vote registration, a large and robust grass-roots operation and it requires resources, not just financial, but political. I have the ability to combine all of these together to create a winning formula."
The most prominent tenet of Bentley's platform is to continue to serve as a conservative voice in Harrisburg, and to pattern that agenda after the 158th District's current representative. 
"Chris Ross has always been someone who pushes conservative reform in Harrisburg," Bentley said. "He tries to solve problems traditionally outside of the Republican scope of conversation by talking about ways that we can pull people out of poverty, and about how we can reform government so that it works for everybody.
"Chris Ross has fought the battles to reform our government in order to help everyone, and there isn't a better model for how to win in this district than what he has done in Harrisburg for 20 years."
While he has a one-in-three chance of securing the write-in nomination on April 26, Bentley said that he is prepared for the uphill climb. When he served as a representative at a Montgomery County phone bank during the 2012 Romney presidential campaign, he was put in charge of a facility that once served as a mattress store. One day, he received a phone call from his supervisor, telling Bentley that if he didn't get assistance at the phone bank soon, he would be fired.  
"I worked hard to make it the best grassroots headquarters for the Romney campaign in Pennsylvania, possibly in the East Coast,” Bentley said. "The best thing you can do with your life is to spend every day work hard to achieve your goals.
"During the last five years, 132,000 people have left Pennsylvania. That's one person every 12 minutes. The economic opportunities are going away, and high tax burden and the crushing pension obligation looming on the horizon. Pennsylvania cannot slip down this black hole of debt."
Rzucidlo, who is running for the House seat for the fourth time and will be the Democratic candidate in November, said that her decision to toss her name into the April 26 primary was to send registered Republicans in the district a message that she is someone who does not look at politics as a clear delineation between parties.
"The Republican voters are looking for someone who shares my values -- who value someone who is going to be accountable and accessible," she said. "This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. It's about [choosing a candidate] who is going to serve the people of the 158th – someone who has the experience, determination, and the willingness to serve everyone. I believe that is me.
"I've watched as we've gotten more and more partisan, closing off the doors of even considering voting for something, because someone from the other side proposed it," Rzucidlo added. "That's what we need to move away from. We need to be able to sit down and decide that the point of being elected is working for everyone in the district -- not the party, and not looking forward to how the other team won't get another win. How are we going to make sure that people are served appropriately? That's what I'll do in Harrisburg."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail .

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline