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The Great Shuster Debate: Will it Happen, and Why Should it?

        Last fall, about 200 voters heard 9th District Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster that he “looked forward” to the opportunity for a debate with his opponents in the Republican Primary.  We heard it with our own ears.  Now, of course, his campaign team is trying its best to keep him from doing just that.

          Earlier this season, the Blair County Republican Women were given the runaround by Shuster’s schedulers and campaign people.  After much goose-chasing and phone-calling, the campaign manager finally admitted Shuster would not attend an earlier scheduled event.

          The Republican Primary is less than 2 months away.  There are still no definitive plans to get Shuster and his opponents in the same room at the same time.

          In theory, this is an obvious function of the Republican Committee.  The Republican Committee is charged with getting Republicans elected.  The Republican Committee should be able to get a sitting official to come to such an event by virtue of their earned stature.

          The operative term there is earned.

          Has the Republican Committee earned any respect from its sitting Congressman?  Certainly, it was the Committee itself that nominated Bill Shuster to be there candidate in the 2001 Special Election after Bud resigned.  So isn’t he obligated to show some respect and participate in a forum with all the candidates?

          No, not really.

          That Special Election was 13 years ago, and there are many committee members long gone since then.  But it doesn’t really matter which committee members have stuck around that long.  What matters is how valuable the current committee members are to Shuster today.

          If those committee members are not active, are not able to turn the vote out in their precincts, who needs them?  If the committee people have not established enough credibility in their precincts to convince their neighbors to vote for one of his opponents, why should Bill risk saying something that could hurt him during a public forum?  If Shuster can run his own get-out-the-vote operation independent of the committee, the committee is like a vestigial organ that long ago lost its function.

          And there lies the current state of the Republican Committee.

          So if Bill won’t come out and debate this spring, we have only ourselves to blame.  If you want your elected officials to be accountable, you have to put the fear of God in them by developing a well-trained,  effective committee.

 

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Tags: Primary, Republicans, Shuster, elections

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