Westmoreland GOP commissioner candidates to keep separate campaigns
The two Republican candidates for Westmoreland County commissioner have not agreed to unify their campaigns but will maintain a dialogue as they take on incumbent Democrats Gina Cerilli and Ted Kopas this fall.
Republicans Sean Kertes and Doug Chew met for two hours Tuesday night with county GOP officials. They described the meeting as cordial and positive in nature but said it failed to produce any commitments to consolidate campaigns and run as a team.
“The plan is to keep an open line of communications, a working relationship, but we will each have our own message and we will stick to that,” Kertes said.
Chew said some common ground was bridged.
“We aren’t going to run as a formal team but, in general, there’s a lot of things we agree on,” he said.
A microbiologist from Hempfield, Chew is a first-time candidate and finished second, behind Kertes among the six candidates in last month’s Republican primary. He was critical of Kertes during the campaign and called him out for accepting campaign donations from county vendors.
The Republicans are seeking to reclaim a majority on the board of commissioners, having lost control of county government to the Democrats in 2015. The GOP for the first time in six decades won a board majority four years earlier.
Anderson and fellow Commissioner Tyler Courtney ran as a GOP incumbent team in 2015 and both finished behind the Democrats. Courtney was the first incumbent commissioner voted out of office in decades.
While Republicans teamed up in 2015, Cerilli — who topped the ballot — and Kopas ran separate campaigns. They are expected to do so again this year.
Kerry Jobe, Westmoreland County Republican Committee chairman, said immediately after the May primary results were tallied that he wanted to broker a deal between the party’s two commissioner candidates.
He said Wednesday the meeting with Kertes and Chew was productive.
“We are all a team. This is all semantics, and we are all going to work together. At the end of the day, these first-time candidates proved themselves. I am definitely encouraged by the meeting,” Jobe said.
He said both will initiate their own fundraising efforts for the fall campaign.
Kertes and Chew each spent about $60,000 in the primary and both lag behind the Democrats in cash on hand for the general election. Chew self-funded his campaign while Kertes relied primarily on donations, including $8,000 from Anderson.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .