YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — The primary election is just about a week away, and a number of incumbents in Pennsylvania’s state House will have to fight to keep their seats. On Monday, a couple of entrenched Republicans were dissed by one of their own, which almost never happens in Harrisburg.
At York’s Round the Clock Diner, Republican state Rep. Mike Jones served up an unusual dish — he publicly endorsed the Republican challengers of his York County colleagues Stan Saylor and Keith Gillespie.
“When York Couty needed them the most, Stan Saylor and Keith Gillespie were sitting at home,” Jones said.
Jones and several area businessmen say Saylor and Gillespie should have more actively supported reopen York and Donald Trump rallies. They also say he did not fight enough against COVID-19 shutdowns initiated by Gov. Tom Wolf.
“We don’t need legislators, we need warriors, and when we needed people to fight, they, unfortunately, were nowhere to be seen,” Jones said.
Former state Sen. Jeff Piccola called the action by Jones “shameful.” Piccola is the chair of York County’s GOP, which endorsed Saylor and Gillespie. He questions the motives of those trying to unseat them.
“This outside group that has come in here to disrupt things, please go back to where you came from and leave us alone. We have two great representatives, and we’re going to keep them,” Piccola said.
Wendy Fink is trying to upset Saylor, a 28-year incumbent and the third most powerful Republican in the House. “I don’t think that I’m going to be well liked in Harrisburg by career politicians, but my goal is not to work for them, my goal is to work for the people,” Fink said.
Joe D’Orsie is trying to end Gillespie’s 20-year run. “I don’t really have an ax to grind with the incumbent. I feel called by God for this moment, and I’m stepping forward,” D’Orsie said.
abc27 was referred to the House Republican Campaign Committee for comment, and the committee said it supports Saylor and Gillespie and that they have “sought to protect personal freedoms and stop Tom Wolf’s liberal agenda.”
Jones disagrees and knows supporting outsiders could hurt him with party leaders, but he insists it isn’t personal, it’s just politics.
“They’re my friends. I tried to warn them, they didn’t listen. It’s time for them to go,” Jones said.