State Committee Meeting
The word document of tonight's meeting can be found here
Christian Fyke—Interim State Chair of Pennsylvania
Benjamin Valimont—Interim Secretary
Brian McMurray—Interim Regional Chair of Western Pennsylvania
Kyle DeMarino—Interim Regional Chair of Eastern Pennsylvania
Héctor Diaz—Interim Regional Chair of Central Pennsylvania
- Welcome & Listening Tour
The meeting started with a welcome & we started by talking about the listening tour that Speaker Rozzi had set up. The new Speaker of the Pennsylvania House had set up a series of events starting on Wednesday, January 25, at 6:00 PM at the CMU campus. From there Philadelphia will have an event on Friday, January 27, & in Wilkes-Barre sometime during the week of January 30. Secretary Valimont received an e-mail from BallotPA detailing the event in Pittsburgh & brought it to the attention of the State Committee.
Matt Fogel was re-introduced to the leadership team. He is currently the District Attorney in Franklin County & he has held the office for 14 years. He is now running again for District Attorney, but this time as an independent. In 2020 he was censored by the Republicans. In previous elections he had run unopposed but with the state of the Republican Party in Franklin County, home of Doug Mastriano, that may not be the case this year.
- State Leadership
There had been some confusion as to how National defined state leads. It was clarified, however, that we can give access to everyone that we want to National Builder. There is no restriction number wise in that. The new tool, Knowledge-Base, requires access to Nation Builder.
For the people who have taken a leadership role & were not onboarded, we were going to have each person shooting Cortney an e-mail, [email protected], requesting to be onboarded, but Regional-Chair McMurray volunteered to send her a list containing all the people needing to be onboarded.
This list should include: Gabe McGuire, Kyle DeMarino, Benjamin Valimont, Rachel Shanok, Tim Snyder, Jack Merritt
- Plans for 2023
We also need to start our plans for the 2023—elections & otherwise. Chairman Fyke had a phone call with Craig Snyder, Ethan Demme, Joel Serby & others. This phone call was about our strategy for 2023. Part of this is our timeline for become a Political Body, part is how we want to approach candidates & what support we can offer them, and most importantly which locations where we can get 50 people on the ground with 100 supporting them remotely.
In order to get to that level of support Rachel Shanok suggested that we start by having more in person events. This would allow our supports to connect with each other. By doing so they would also become more committed to the party.
Rachel Shanok brought up a suggestion for last night’s meeting about a line of T-shirts with the words “Forward Party—Ask Me About It”. When it comes to getting anything printed, National wants to be sure that everything is Made in America. As such, they want shirts to go through them. Chair McMurray noted that the best way to donate money to the Forward Party is to buy search.
In talking about merchandise, a question was asked about why the National party won’t be able to provide financial support like the Democrats & Republican national parties provide for their state parties. It was explained that the major parties are currently national parties whereas the National Forward Party is not.
This brought up a discussion on the timeline that was given to us. (See Appendix A below).
Chairman is scheduled to have another meeting with Craig Snyder tomorrow. He was on the transition team for Josh Shapiro & has now had a lot of conversations with Forward National.
- Candidate Training
We are trying to kickoff the candidate program in March. Ethan Demme proposed this & will do the initial training. We plan to reach out to Ilya to help with this & possibly also the Keystone. Regional Chair DeMarino stated that he has a friendly relationship with the Chester County Libertarian Party, Dan Truitt, a former Republican member of the Pennsylvania State House. They have been doing candidate training. Chair DeMarino said he will e-mail.
Rachel Shanok also suggested getting contact former Representative Todd Stephens (See Appendix B). He was a co-sponsor of Representative Quinn’s open primary legislation.
Secretary Valimont, also suggested getting into contact with Everett Stern. He ran in the Pennsylvania Senate race last year, but when he realized he was polling so high that he might throw the race into Oz’s favor, he dropped out. Chair DeMarino stated that he might be a little wacky & might be too preoccupied with his endeavors against Michael Flynn. Chair DeMarino further stated that Ethan Demme had a lengthy him in the past but came out of it thinking that Mr. Stern was a little too all over the place.
Matt Fogel asked if the training sessions were to go be like a 30,000 foot view of the process or if it would be more getting into the weeds of running. Chairman Fyke responded that it will be both.
Rachel Shanok then asked about research into municipal elections & what it would entail. Chairman Fyke stated that it will probably be providing directions to candidates on where they can begin to research for themselves in running for these municipal offices.
- Team Report Update
Most of the team reports from last night’s meeting sufficed except for the research team. Secretary Valimont stated that he ran across an update on the 15 Republicans who voted for Representative Rozzi as Speaker of the House. The Berks County Republican Committee voted to censure all 15 of the Republicans.
There was also a discussion on our collaboration efforts. We have a good relationship with Independent Pennsylvanians through Jennifer Bullock. Chair McMurray went through the list of organizations, he is keeping track of but we do need more people to contribute to these efforts. Matt Fogel also noted that there were no veteran groups in our list.
Christian Clarke also updated his efforts in coordinate volunteers. So far, he has only had two people contact him. The first was a month or two ago when a person wanted to help with the website. Unfortunately, they seem to have lost interest. The second in a student up in Allegheny College in Meadville. He is wanting to participate with the research team & is set to meet with Secretary Valimont on Thursday. Secretary Valimont noted that he wants to use the scorecards as a testing ground to determine if a person is committed enough & skilled enough to complete more difficult researching tasks. One of the things Secretary Valimont learned is that every county’s election office has a different system they report their results by & many even change the system they use every year. Secretary Valimont will not put someone off the street on tasks like this until they prove themselves with the scorecards.
Pennsylvania Forward Party Formation Timeline
Pennsylvania does not permit an organization to achieve political party status by registering voters as affiliated with the party or by gathering petition signatures. Instead, the only way to become a political party in Pennsylvania is by running one or more candidates for partisan office who are affiliated with the Forward Party (meaning the candidate circulates ballot access signature petitions, called “nomination papers” listing Forward Party as their party affiliation) and who then achieve a certain level of electoral success at the general or municipal election. Specifically:
Political party status within a county: Forward Party will achieve “political party” status within a county if it fields a candidate for office at the general election (November of even-numbered years) or at a municipal election (November of odd-numbered years) who is affiliated with the Forward Party as indicated on their nomination papers and the candidate receives at least five percent (5%) of the largest entire vote cast for any elected candidate in that county.
- Political party status statewide: Forward Party will achieve “political party” status statewide if it fields a candidate at the general election in 2024 (not a municipal election in 2023) who is affiliated with the Forward Party as indicated on their nomination papers and the candidate receives both: (i) at least two percent (2%) of the largest entire vote cast in each of at least ten (10) counties; and (ii) at least two percent (2%) of the largest entire vote cast in the state for any elected candidate.
Once Forward Party has achieved “political party” status in a county or statewide it will be classified as a “minor political party” unless and until the number of Pennsylvania voters who register as affiliated with the Forward Party reaches at least fifteen percent (15%) of “the combined statewide registration for all statewide political parties as of the close of the registration period immediately preceding the most recent November election.” Only “major political parties” have publicly funded primary elections and reduced signature gathering requirements for their candidates. It is not clear whether Pennsylvanians who register as affiliated with the Forward Party prior to it achieving “political party” status will count towards this 15% threshold.
- Forward National consults with in-state leads to determine strategic timeline for recruiting and running candidates in PA. A decision needs to be made regarding whether to attempt to achieve county-level political party status by running one or more candidates for municipal office in Pennsylvania’s 2023 municipal elections (which are partisan), or instead to wait to run Forward Party affiliated candidates in the 2024 general election to try to achieve statewide political party status.
- Forward National prepares a memorandum on achieving political party status, including candidate ballot access (nomination paper requirements) and Pennsylvania campaign finance compliance to inform the efforts. This memorandum should be prepared in early (Jan-Feb) 2023 if the decision is made to run candidates in the 2023 municipal elections, or in early 2024 if the decision is made to wait to run candidates until 2024.
- Forward National provides support to candidate(s) running in the 2023 municipal election or in the 2024 general election. The nature and extent of the support will be informed by the Pennsylvania campaign finance compliance memorandum, but the goal here would be to ensure that these candidates receive the threshold levels of support to achieve political party status.
- One or more Forward Party candidates achieve requisite votes in the election so that Forward Party achieves “political party” status in one or more counties (2023) or statewide (2024). Following the November election in 2023 (or 2024), we will assess where political party status has been achieved.
- Draft/negotiate/enter into affiliation/license agreement with Forward National. Once political party status has been achieved in one or more counties or statewide, Forward National and the relevant county or state political party leads should enter into an affiliation/license agreement. Note that Forward National could enter into an affiliation/license agreement before this point, such as between steps 2 and 3, if it has identified leadership and those leaders desire to begin activities in the state beyond merely recruiting and running candidates.
- Development and adoption of state party governing documents. The governing documents do not need to be adopted until “political party” status in a county or statewide is achieved.
- Incorporation. If advisable (informed by compliance memorandum), the state or county political party leaders should incorporates as a domestic not for profit corporation in order to shield its principals from personal liability to the extent possible.
- Opening bank account (DATE TBD). State/county party opens a bank account in the name of the incorporated entity if advisable (informed by compliance memorandum).
Pennsylvania State Representative
Todd Stephens (R)
The Representative is not on the State Government Committee.
The Representative made the following negative official actions:
The Representative has the following negative public positions:
The Representative has made the following positive public positions:
- Voted for Act 77 (mail in ballots)
- Representative IS a co-sponsor of HB 1369 (Open Primaries).
- The Representative did not vote for HB 1300, a bill written in response to the former president’s defeat in the 2020 election.
No statements were found from the Representative on Ranked Choice Voting.
No comments were found from the Representative concerning January 6th.
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