GOP members discuss unity, election at party gathering

MARTINSBURG – Despite disappointment from a last-minute cancellation by Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, who was slated to speak, about 100 area Republicans gathered at Morrisons Cove Memorial Park for a Saturday afternoon pig roast to talk about party unity and the November election.

Hosted by the Morrisons Cove-Blair County Republican Club, the picnic was attended by local party leaders and elected officials including Blair County Sheriff Mitch Cooper, Rep. John McGinnis, R-Altoona, and county party Chairman A.C. Stickel.

Club President Cristi Waltz said she was disappointed at Cawley’s absence, but understands the rigors of campaign season. Gov. Tom Corbett’s race is crucial, she said.

Judy Ward, who is running to replace retiring state Rep. Jerry Stern, R-Martinsburg, talked little about her own race, choosing instead to focus on the picnic’s apparent theme: gathering Republicans together for the fall.

Just as people rarely agree with their spouses or family members 100 percent of the time, neither should people expect to agree with all Republican candidates on all issues, she said.

“But personally, I want a candidate that believes in the same core principles that I do,” she said.

County Commissioner Terry Tomassetti modified a quote from U2 singer Bono in his speech, saying that Republicans “want Pennsylvania to be an idea … you can write your own life’s story if you’re willing to do it.”

He called the state’s mounting pension crisis the toughest issue facing the state; despite having one of the country’s best education systems, people are leaving the commonwealth because the economy is so bad, he said.

A victory for Corbett is needed for the state to solve some of those issues, he said.

“If Gov. Corbett loses, we’re in trouble,” he said. “And we’ll still be educating our nation’s leaders, but they won’t be here.”

Waltz also encouraged attendees to make a donation to the financially troubled park.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.