The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

February 3, 2010

Front-runner receives county nod by 1 vote

SUNBURY — Despite statewide polling that indicates Republican Pat Toomey has a solid lead over Democratic opponents, including incumbent Arlen Specter, in this fall's U.S. Senate race, the Allentown candidate on Tuesday barely won the endorsement of Northumberland County's GOP Committee.

The 21-20 vote may have been driven by committee members feeling slighted because Toomey has yet to visit them while long-shot contender Peg Luksik has campaigned in the region.

"The vote was not unexpected," said Elizabeth R. Kremer, county Republican Party chairwoman. "In this case, it is what happened when two candidates were invited to speak before the committee, but only one showed up "” Luksik. She was very impressive. Luksik is fiscally conservative and shares a lot of the American values of our members."

Kremer said she has never met Toomey.

Luksik, reached at her home in Johnstown, was pleased by the result, "although obviously, I wish I had won the endorsement. It was the first time members of the county committee met me. The vote shows that people are receptive to the messages I bring to the table."

The 53-year-old mother of six and former teacher ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for governor in 1990 and as a Constitution Party member in 1994 and 1998.

Nevertheless, Luksik said her beliefs, which fall strictly along conservative lines, will resonate with people all over Pennsylvania.

"Mr. Toomey has admitted to being center-right, but if you examine his voting record, he is a moderate," Luksik said. "No one would mistake me for that. I'm a fiscal and social conservative. As for his name recognition, when you get outside the political establishment, you'll find that he's not that well-known."

Toomey responded to the slim Northumberland County endorsement through his spokesperson, Nachama Soloveichik.

Wrote Soloveichik in an e-mail: "We are pleased to have the support of the Northumberland County committee, along with the tens of thousands of grass-roots supporters all across Pennsylvania who have joined our campaign to bring fiscal restraint and political balance back to Washington."

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