Recommendations from one Conservative Christian Center Board Member
By Robert Cosgrove
Today is primary election day. Who should you vote for? This is addressed to the conservative-minded faith community. Some of this is my opinion. Some is the official Conservative Christian Center position. With CCC being a non-partisan, non-profit organization, they don’t endorse candidates. I do.
First, I want to thank the candidates on the ballot today, who took the time to fill out the Questionnaire we sent. You’ll see we gave out “A” ranking (best) down to “C” and even “D” for did not respond. As a CCC board member I helped set the policy. It isn’t hard to guess – our name says it clearly, Conservative Christian Center. If you think Ronald Reagan was the best President, then you got 10 points out of 10. We are biased, as our name states, for the pro-conservative, pro-Christian viewpoint in the questions we asked and the way we rated the answers.
But let me be clear – and I’m speaking both for myself and for CCC in saying this: there are other things to look at besides a candidate’s score.
Several candidates got a “B” or “B+” rating. In each case, they got hung up on the same two questions. Do you go to church “regularly.” I think they interpret that to mean, do you go every single Sunday? The pastor where I go to church, a personal friend of mine, says “always” is how often you should go. I think my pastor is terrific. But, I really am not happy to give someone a “zero” rating on this question because perhaps he goes to church but thinks our word “regularly” means, “always.” Maybe next time we should ask, how often do you go? Almost always (10 points)? Most of the time (8 points)? Sometimes (4 points)? Never (zero)? We didn’t mean to seem so strict. But then again, maybe our subscribers do want a “binary” question, YES or NO?
I’ll be specific. Commissioner Chris Reilly got a “B+” (the + because he is a past “Statesman of the Year” of our organization – which means the board way before my time thought he is terfific). Sheriff Rich Keurleber got a B. In both cases they don’t “go to Church regularly.” I want to say clearly, I would not rule out voting for either of these good incumbent officeholders, because of this. I strongly recommend to you, that you consider all of their answers and which ones you feel most strongly about – and their track record. I do especially appreciate that Commissioner Reilly has attended so many CCC/York Action meetings in the past – which is supportive of what I think is an important organization (else why would I be on its board?). I know that Sheriff Keurleber has attended some of functions too.
The other thing a lot of GOP candidates get hung up on is abortion. We didn’t make this a simple “binary” question, yes or no, zero or 10 points. We gave an extra option. Are you in favor of abortion if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest? Most Republican candidates, and a few days ago President Trump, pick this option.
Well, I have a question for those Republicans: if abortion is murder because that’s a baby, then why isn’t it also murder, however the baby came to become a baby?
The honest answer, as a few have admitted, is they are fearful that a lot of people won’t vote for any Republican candidate, who doesn’t go along with this exception. So you get zero points if you are for abortion. 5 points if you are for abortion if there was a rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. And 10 points if you make no exception – killing a baby is always wrong.
You can lose 5 points on our survey, and with a 95% score (95 points out of 100; or 95% of the 12 questions for judicial candidates) and still earn an “A” rating. But you cannot lose 5 points on this one and also lose 10 points on going to church “regularly” and still be “A” rated.
If I had the choice of voting for a candidate who was credible (ie. considering their background and experience) with a “B” rating versus someone who is a good talker and filled out our Questionnaire by checking every box correctly, I’d really consider voting for the “B” candidate. I would rule it out is what I am saying, and I strongly suggest this to you also.
All I’m trying to say, is that candidates who got an A, a B+ or a B, are pretty terrific in our view, and we hope you will consider all of them for your vote.
Then there’s the candidates with a “C.” If your choice is between a “C” candidate who either answered a lot of our questions wrong (from our viewpoint) or didn’t answer them (which means they want to be silent on the issues I care about the most), I’d have to see who my alternative candidate is, before I could decide how I am voting. What do you do if two candidates for the same position are rated “C” or, if one is a “C” and one is a “D”? Not a huge difference. What do I suggest you do?
I have no specific suggestion, when it comes to the “C” candidate. We don’t endorse candidates, and honestly, I still haven’t decided.
If I see a candidate is rated “D,” then I’ll be direct about this: if they don’t care enough about my vote and the vote of values voters to answer our questions, then they aren’t getting my vote. If you want to accept their excuses go ahead.
But not me. I’m the one who has tabulated the surveys for the past couple of years. I’ve seen or heard about the excuses. They’re too busy. They don’t read their email. They know nothing about the questions we sent to them. They don’t think our questions have anything to do with their job. Or their beliefs are private.
Malarkey. If you want to run for office you can do it anyway you want. But you’re not going to convince me it is unreasonable of us, to want to elect candidate to office, who reflect our beliefs.
I don’t mean to say, that I only want to elect fellow Catholics or people who believe exactly as I do on every issue and question. That would be unfair as well as unrealistic. I mean, on the major issues of the day – as we see it – are they with us and willing to speak out, or not? I want to elect to office, or at least vote, for candidates who I am comfortable with.
The biggest challenge of today’s election, for me and for many associated with CCC (and now I am speaking for CCC, not just for myself) is the one open seat for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
The honest truth is, our members and leadership who I have spoken to, think very highly of Matt Menges and Jonelle Harter-Eschbach.
Jonelle was actually “master of ceremonies” for the candidate portion of last year’s Statesmen of the Year” breakfast. She has been supportive of CCC by purchasing breakfast and dinner tickets in the past. More than any other candidate in some years, she made use of our Value Voter Guide when she ran for office in the past, pointing out in a mass-mailer to Republicans in the primary, that her opponent had ducked out on issues most of us think are important. She said as a Prosecutor she has no problem telling you flat out, she would prosecute illegals who violate the law a second time. She did what liberals and moderates call “negative campaigning” by saying which side of this issue she was on – ours – and her opponent ducked out. She sure got my vote with that. She was “A” rated before and is “A” rated again now because she takes our position on most every question asked.
Jonelle also was willing to attend and be identified with us at the recent National Day of Prayer (as was Commissioner Chris Reilly). I think that is very important, their willingness to be identified with topics that people of faith think are important.
The downside of Jonelle, in my view, is how she emphasizes how the ABA gives her a better rating than her opponent in this contest. Well now. Does that mean she hangs out with the city-lawyers who dominate the local ABA? I appreciate she has the regard of her peers, but it does cut both ways on this.
One of our members pointed out to me that President Reagan stopped using the national ABA to pre-clear judges before the President would nominate them for Supreme Court and other federal judge positions. As a recent book by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich documents, the ABA is usually very liberal and gives better ratings to judges nominated by liberal Presidents and much lower ratings to judges put forward by conservative Presidents.
They can support who they want, but if a bunch of lawyers are telling me that Matt Menges isn’t their first choice, perhaps that means, Matt Menges is the more conservative candidate? I honestly don’t know, but I’m just saying that the ABA has no influence with me whatsoever and for some conservatives (like our member who brought this up) they are a negative influence.
If only Jonelle were running against a candidate with a “B” rating, then with her background and experience she would be hands down, who got my vote. But now consider Matt Menges.
Matt has a background of speaking out for conservative causes. He too has a perfect A rating from CCC, now as well as in the past when he ran for judge. He has experience as an attorney, although I think, not as much as Jonelle. He too, has been supportive of CCC in the past, having attended at least one of our past meetings. In his candidate stump speech, one advantage he has (as far as I am concerned) is that he always has something to say about his philosophy as a conservative, and that he thinks faith and his beliefs as a Christian, are very important consideratioin to his wanting to be a judge. In this regard, he has a bit of an advantage over Jonelle – he speaks out clearly, about what he believes.
As I am writing this now on election morning, and getting ready to go vote then go to work, I still haven’t decided how I’m going to vote, Jonelle vs Matt. They are both terrific. I am sad that one of them is going to lose today. But then, very often in York County, the candidate that ran a good race but didn’t win, will often win on a second or third try. There will no doubt, be future vacancies for Judges on the York County Court of Common Pleas. It is the unanimous sentiment of the leadership of Conservative Christian Center, that we hope both Jonelle Eschbach and Matt Menges, become Judges. We would be most fortunate to have good people like them, as our Judges.
One more contest where I can make a good recommendation: Julie Haertsch for Clerk of the Court for York County. She got an “A” rated as did Barbato Arvonio. Nothing against Barbato, who like Julie, came to our Candidate Forum which honors us greatly. But I’ve served on the Working Group of last year’s annual Statesman of the Year breakfast with Julie, and have seen first hand how strongly she has supported the Conservative Christian Center. Maybe I’m biased because of that. But I suspect every other member of the Working Group and our advisors are all going to vote for Julie. She has spoken out for us. I’m voting for her.
I wish I could vote for Colonel Doug Mastriano but he is running as the GOP nominee for a state senate seat vacancy in the western part of York County on the road to Gettysburg. He has an “A” rating. And he is committed to coming with us on a van being rented by Uniformed Services League for a 7/10 congressional lunch and symposium called “Restore Freedom” It is to support combat warriors who have been facing court martial or even sentenced to jail time because they opened fire on enemy terrorists. I’ll be taking off that day to drive the rental van, which will include as passengers, Julie Haertsch, Ron Cohen, Dr. Ken Gibson, Richard and Emy Delgaudio and several more CCC members in York County. (we actually have a few open seats you can write to claim – it is free, and includes lunch at the House Rayburn Bldg. – write to York@ConservativeChristianCenter.org for more info).
And then there’s Rebecca Warren, my last recommendation. She spoke out most strongly for her Christian faith at our recent Candidate Forum. She is the only candidate for PA State Superior Court with an “A” rating from the Conservative Christian Center. Every other candidate earned a “C” or a “D.” Rebecca Warren stands head and shoulders over the rest. I’m voting for her.
The most important thing I can suggest to you for voting today, is that you have to invest some time to making your decision. If you read this far, you already have, and I thank you. But, don’t miss the Value Voter Guide – especially the 2nd page where it shows you the ratings for the candidates, and how they voted.
And if you can invest a little more time, please take a look at the candidate questionnaire. The entire thing has been uploaded to our website (by me). The candidates took a lot of their time to answer these questions. I strongly feel you should respect that commitment, by reviewing their answers before you make your choice how to vote today. In a close race, this could be the decisive thing for you.
Thanks for being our subscriber, and thanks for voting today. God bless all the candidates who offered themselves, and may he give solace to those who lose, and help keep a spirit of humbleness and service to the community, to those who win.
Robert Cosgrove, CCC York Chapter Board member
(this article by Robert Cosgrove, CCC York Chapter Board member)