Westmoreland GOP selects new local party leader
Westmoreland County Republicans elected a new leader following a contested convention in which three candidates sought control of the local GOP.
Salem Township supervisor Kerry Jobe will serve as new committee chairman.
Jobe, 36, takes over from attorney Michael Korns, who headed the local committee since 2014. Jobe served as the party’s vice chairman under Korns.
“This isn’t my first rodeo,” said Jobe, who for the last eight month served as the party’s acting chairman after Korns took a leave of absence to make an unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination for a vacant state house seat.
Jobe finished second among the top three candidates in the first round of voting at the convention Saturday at Greensburg-Salem High School, one vote behind Michael VanDyke, a Lutheran pastor from Latrobe. Hempfield supervisor Doug Weimer finished a distant third.
Jobe edged VanDyke by 15 votes in the second balloting to win the chairmanship.
He takes over a party that for the last two decades has grown from a political afterthought with few election wins and only about a third of the county’s registered voters to one that that has dominated at the polls in recent years. The GOP, with 105,671 registered voters in its ranks, accounts for nearly 43 percent of Westmoreland County’s registered voters. Democrats still hold a voter registration edge with 110,252 voters, which equals about 45 percent of all county voters.
“We’re going to be focused on the 2018 election then the county races next year. We’ll be putting out our Republican message and getting our candidates out there. We’ll be pushing the envelop more and more every time,” Jobe said. “What our candidates have to realize is we can’t take anything for granted.”
Jobe’s election capped a busy weekend. He was married a day before the party vote.
Korns announced in December he would not seek a third term as chairman and endorsed Jobe as his successor.
“For the past four years, Kerry Jobe as vice chair has worked hand-in-hand with myself and the rest of this committee to elect Republican candidates. There is no better prepared candidate to lead our party forward than Chairman Jobe,” Korns said.
Jobe, who was elected supervisor in Salem in 2011 and again last year, will serve a two-year term as GOP chairman.
Weimer said that despite the contested vote there is no division within the party leadership.
“We’re a party that has grown and now we have more people with experience. We’re a bigger party, more participants, more candidates and more leaders. We’re looking forward to the races ahead. We’re ready to go,” Weimer said.
Republicans also elected Scott Ellis of Penn Township as the new vice chairman and Bill Bretz of Hempfield as treasurer.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.