Candidate says no to straw polls

A Republican gubernatorial candidate who is a newcomer in the political realm is challenging the norms of the election process by opting out of the straw polls.

Laura Ellsworth, an attorney at an international law firm and who serves on more than a dozen civic organizations has asked not to have her name included in the straw polls.

“I believe each GOP candidate for governor should make his or her case to all Republican voters in the May primary. Pennsylvanians are tired of politics as usual and insider deals. … An endorsement process controlled by insiders and career politicians is simply not the best course for our party,” Ellsworth stated in a press release.

Ellsworth is currently running against state House Speaker Mike Turzai, state Sen. Scott Wagner and businessman Paul Mango and Democratic candidate, Gov. Tom Wolf.

Each of the six regional caucuses will conduct straw polls for who they want their gubernatorial candidate to be prior to the Feb. 10 state endorsement meeting.

State Rep. John McGinnis, R-Altoona, said he thinks there are more advantages than disadvantages for Ellsworth to opt out of the endorsement process.

“She’s made a judgment that participating would hurt her,” McGinnis said, adding that candidates Turzai and Wagner have an advantage over Ellsworth due to their political connections.

“State committees should keep their noses out of the voting process and leave it up to the voters,” McGinnis said.

State Rep. Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg, disagrees. “I think it would be a mistake for Laura Ellsworth to not participate in straw polls.”

According to Ward, the endorsement process gives candidates the opportunity to see where they stand with the committee. If a candidate chooses not to participate, then committee members don’t get to know the candidate and cannot speak on behalf of the candidate and his or her campaign.

The Republican gubernatorial candidates attended a forum on Thursday in Hollidaysburg to introduce themselves to the public and to express their views on a range of policy issues prior to the first straw poll vote.

The first official straw poll vote took place in Harrisburg on Saturday with Wagner winning the Central Caucus with 63 percent of the vote.

Mirror Staff Writer Shen Wu Tan is at 946-7457.