On Tuesday, August 4th, the voters of the 161st legislative district will go to the polls to fill the vacate seat left by Representative Joe Hackett’s resignation in April after just being re-elected November. The timing of the resignation has left the Republican vulnerable of losing to seat to the Democratic Party or even to the write in candidacy of independent, Lisa Esler. The Delco Republican Party has placed their hope on an unlikely choice, Paul Mullen of Aston who just happens to be the President of the Delaware County AFL-CIO, Business Manager of the IBEW Local 654 and on the Delaware County Economic Oversight Board. The Democrats have called on Leanne Krueger Braneky, who lost to Hackett in November but with the wildcard Esler in the race votes may split on the Republican side which may serve Braneky the election. According to Voter’s Registration of Delaware County, the Republican Party holds an edge of 19,703 to 14,390 Democrats.
So who is the blame for the division among the Republican voters and the Delco GOP? It started with the GOP endorsing Mullen who many claim is only a RINO and does not hold the party line. What is a RINO? It is a Republican in Name Only. Conservatives of the GOP believe that someone like Mullen, who is the President of the AFL-CIO does not share the true philosophy of being a republican. Comments range from,” The Delco GOP’s latest endorsement of a liberal Democrat who happens to be registered Republican is an outrage and a travesty,” to “Mullen is a RINO. It is a disgrace that the Delco GOP would do this.” All of the outrage and badmouthing of the Delco GOP does help to create a question as to if the Republican Party will hang onto the 161St seat.
The write in candidate is Lisa Esler who describes herself as “an Aston resident,as a wife, mother, grandmother, certified optician, and a member of the Penn Delco School Board.” She continues to explain her reasons for running stating that “am challenging the Delco GOP’s candidate because in my role as a school board director, I have seen how Harrisburg is tainted by special interest lobbyists. As head of the AFL-CIO in Delaware County and the business manager for the IBEW, Mr. Mullen is the poster child for special interests,” and that That the Delco GOP machine would favor a man who is, for all intents and purposes a Democrat, is a slap in the face to every Republican in Delaware County.” So that is how we got here. Two Republicans, one endorsed, one who believes she has always served the interests of the Delco GOP, fighting it out to see who the true Republican is.
Meanwhile, Democratic opponent Leanne Krueger-Braneky is campaigning hard and has received the endorsements of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, which represents 22,000 workers across Pennsylvania, SEIU Pennsylvania State Council, which represents nearly 80,000 workers across the Commonwealth, and Education Voters Action Fund, a public education advocacy organization. She has stepped right back into the campaign after her loss to Hackett. Krueger-Braneky is a 38-year-old senior director of strategy and development for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and she is married with a 3 year old son. She has stated she is running for the 161st seat,” I really want to stand up for our community in Harrisburg.”