Walker withdraws from 158th race; Ross to replace?


Cuyler Walker

Updated 7:35 a.m., 9/23/14. Adds comment from Chester County Democrats

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

EAST MARLBOROUGH — Cuyler Walker suddenly announced his withdrawal from the race for the 158th State Representative race, Monday afternoon — and it could lead to a familiar face appearing on the November ballot, nine-term State Representative Chris Ross.

Walker, a Republican, and the current chair of the township Board of Supervisors, cited personal issues as the reason for his pulling out of the race.

“It is with deep regret that I am announcing my withdrawal as a candidate for State Representative,” Walker said in a statement. “Certain personal issues have arisen, and I believe that I can no longer effectively campaign for this position.  It is important for me to focus on those issues at this time. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of my supporters and volunteers over these past few months.”

Multiple GOP sources told The Times Monday night that Ross was the choice to replace Walker on the ballot.

Walker filed his withdrawal with the state Commonwealth Court, Monday, in the hopes that the court would rule in an expedited manner and allow the placement of another Republican candidate on the November ballot. Without a court ruling, typically the deadline for a candidate to withdraw and be replaced on the ballot is Aug. 11.

County Democrats say that more answers are needed — including specifics as to the cause of Walker’s withdrawal —  and why the standard withdrawal rules don’t apply for Walker and the GOP.

“The public has a right to know why, at this late date, with ballots printed and already being sent to our military personnel and those living overseas, Cuyler Walker has abruptly decided to abandon his campaign and those that supported him,” said Brian McGinnis, chair of the Chester County Democratic Committee.  “More troubling is the fact that the Republican Party seeks to marginalize the votes of our service men and women, as well as those citizens living overseas by, trying to substitute a hand-picked candidate that the Republicans view as more electable.

“This effort at backroom politics could also have a cost to the taxpayers of Chester County.  The legal deadline for Cuyler Walker to withdraw as a candidates was August 11th, over 35 days ago. Under these circumstances, allowing the candidate to withdraw would disenfranchise military and overseas voters. In fact, if Mr. Walker wished to withdraw, why did he not do so before ballots began to go out to military and overseas voters on September 19th? What took place in the last couple of days that prompted this sudden move?

“Moreover, should the candidate be allowed to withdraw from the ballot, the taxpayers would be burdened with the cost of reprinting the ballots and reprogramming the voting machines. Before the public is forced to pay these costs, it has an absolute right to know why Cuyler Walker is so urgently attempting to withdraw at this late date and well after the legal deadline or if this is all a ruse by the Republican Party to hand pick a more electable candidate.”

According to Chester County Republican Committee chair Val DiGiorgio, the hope is for a ruling by the court by Friday. That would set in motion a caucus of the county committee members of the 158th District who would meet this coming weekend to vote for a new candidate. After that vote, DiGiorgio would notify the Secretary of State of the new candidate.

While the move would come early enough for a new candidate to get on regular ballots, it appears that the absentee ballots have already been printed and could cost whomever the GOP candidate is some votes, but DiGiorgio said Monday night he didn’t think it would be a major impact.

“I think people will have a pretty good idea of who they’re voting for,” DiGiorgio said, as the party’s organizational and financial strength should be a major asset in getting word out about the change.

Walker was highly recruited as a replacement for the retiring Ross — and seen as a favorite to beat Democrat Susan Rzucidlo in the November election.

Ross, a former London Grove township supervisor and current East Marlborough resident, could not be reached for comment on whether he would entertain putting off his retirement. While DiGiorgio declined to discuss specific candidates, he said that the party “has a deep bench” and that “a strong candidate” would emerge from this week’s process.

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  1. susan halford says:

    Amazes me that people can be so ” militant” about their comments and innuendos, but be to cowardly to use their names…..really?

  2. Newlin folk says:

    Sounds like Mike is absolutely doing his job. The local folks know alot but without proof nothing will happen. Upland will cover up like they did many years ago for another politician who beat his daughter. The DA, cops and DA covered it up. This isn’t much different.
    Rumors have been swirling since July. I hope someone comes forward so that if Walker is guilty, he will pay the full price..as will DiGiorgio and Ross..Ross was on Uplands board and in that close. knit group. He would be nuts to run again if asked.
    But this is all rumor..

    • Mike McGann says:

      And again — it’s important to cool it on rumors/hearsay. At least one attorney from a major local firm is starting to ask questions about comments and comment policy.

      • Tom Watson says:

        Mike, I have read enough of your thoughts to feel secure in that you will not be swayed by pressure from partisan sources. I believe that you understand where the line is between information and advocacy, and between rumor and fact. I admire your reporting and your sense of journalistic integrity.

  3. Tim Wickes says:

    Hey e marl. Last time I heard, “personal reasons” implies family matter ie private. Some third hand rumor you may think you overheard at the Wawa is not grounds for this level of intrusion. If for some reason Walker has committed some crime, then some one will press charges and we will have a different discussion. Until then, show his wife and children some R. E. S. P. E. C. T. And ps, if you’re gonna sling mud, at least have the character to use your real name. Don’t be such a chicken ****

  4. Mike McGann says:

    As we continue to work the story details do emerge and I want to make sure we make note of them. Elsewhere in these comments there’s a reference to The Upland Country Day School. To be clear: Walker left of his own volition, initially resigning the post of president of the board of trustees in 2012 and then resigned from the board a few months later. He was not asked to resign, nor was it seen as a significant issue at the time.

    • E Marlb Resident says:

      Mike – That is not true. Mr. Walker was in fact asked to resign by the then Head Master and a select number of Board Members. Of course Upland would not give the real reason for his early departure. Have you asked Mr. Walker why the Finnish exchange student was then not allowed to stay with his family? Keep digging Mike …

      • Mike McGann says:

        Again, I base my reporting on multiple sources that tell a different story — and the fact that Walker stayed on the board after stepping down as president seems to bring your account into question. Whatever issues there are — and there do appear to be issues — did not become part of the local conversation until this summer. Unless you were in the room and willing to go on the record, at this point, I have to assume the account I’ve described is the most accurate.

      • noneofyourbusiness says:

        Whatever vendetta you might have with Mr. Walker does not need to be broadcasted over the internet – not to mention the vast majority of your allegations are wrong and incredibly biased. Where is your proof?Your constant nagging only comes off as a desperate cry for attention. Until you can actually provide evidence to support your so-called ‘claims’, your comments are both irrelevant and an annoyance.

  5. Jim Codichini says:

    Mike, if you have a cordial relationship with Cuyler perhaps you should contact him and give him the opportunity to do an interview and tell his side of the story. Cuyler remains on the East Marlborough Board of Supervisors and should have an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings or allegations that are out on the street. If there is truth to any of charges the community needs good reporting on that as well.

  6. Wayne Braffman says:

    Let’s be clear about one thing: Cuyler Walker withdrew because he knew that he would be defeated once his ‘personal problems’ were made public. He could have campaigned and run. He chose to withdraw instead. Period.

    Consequently, it would be a travesty if a judge were to rule that the Chester County Republican Party can replace him on the ballot. What a ridiculous precedent that would set: If your candidates look like they’ll lose, just have them withdraw and replace them with someone who might win.

    • Correction says:

      The precedent has already been set on numerous occasions: See Rep. Joe Brennan in 2012

      • Bill Phifer says:

        However, Brennan’s case was in mid August, not late September, when many absentee ballots have already been distributed, and would require taxpayers of Chester County to have to pay for new ballots and reprogramming and recalibration testing of the ES&S M100 and iVotronic voting machines for many precincts.

  7. Jill P. says:

    Although very disappointed in the fact that Mr Walker withdrew, I do In fact respect his choice for he knows the real truth behind what is going on. What breaks my heart is that people will jump to conclusions based on anything they hear through rumors. Anyone who knew Cuyler whether it was from the past or maybe just even from the start of his campaign, they know the kind of man he is. No words can describe the dedication this man put forth to his community. Say what what you want. But you will never find a man like Cuyler. He’s proud of his township, his county, and his country. I also know he was deeply found of his family for they are lucky to have him as a part of their life. The clouds will pass yet in the end the community has lost their chance in having the greatest man represent them in Harrisburg.

  8. Jane Doe says:

    Denis, I guess I was a victim of youthful experimentation. it wrecked my life. Any victim can tell u about the scars left behind. l pray for his estranged wife and her children whom were sent to boarding school to protect them. This is not ok and he never should have run. The party knew and that is criminal too. Pray for the souls left behind broken.

  9. Denis Glaccum says:

    I need no anonymous name to express my view on a very sad and unfortunate situation. An individual should be judge on his total contribution to his country, township and family. Are there any of us who wish we hadn’t done certain things in our life? Are there any one who wishes he could “do over” many of our youthful experimentation’s? Just go to any emergency room almost any night of the week and you will see poor judgement, dumb choices. For John Smith now to raise issues over possible poor judgement thirty years after ones growth years should be questioned. If these accusations were on the table ten, twenty years ago fine. But now one should realize that their must be less than noble motivations. How can any one endorse the Democratic party who quite obviously knew of these accusations and sat on them until thirty days before the election? Another classy act!
    Cuyler Walker has demonstrated on a day to day basis that he has supported not only his immediate family but his extended family with his wisdom and actions. He has been a supervisor in East Marlborough and handled peoples concerns consistently with compassion and understanding. In the Unionville Equestrian community he has repeatedly understood landowners and all segments of this vast equestrian community. I met Cuyler when he was still a young person (1973-74) but did not know him well until 14years ago. He is an exceptional individual, yes probably with human faults, who has done nothing but provide leadership and good judgement to all he has come in contact with. The people of Chester County know this, i know this and his family both immediate and extended know this fact. This removal of him as a potential State Rep. serves no one, but it does create a loss to all PA Residents because we loose a wise accomplished individual to help guide this state through very difficult times.

    • Mike McGann says:

      Mr. Glaccum: I would agree with most of your points — and if we had any specific inkling about the events that led to Walker’s decision, I suppose we could have a fair discussion about the merits. But we don’t know — so speculating does none of us any good.

      In terms of the source of the rumors, I wouldn’t be so quick to lay it at the feet of Democrats. Virtually all of the people contacting me over the last few weeks weren’t Democrats. Until the last week, when things appeared to accelerate, I suspected the comments and rumors were either typical political campaign whispers (rumors, usually false, fly around many campaigns) every person who contacted me was a Republican. As I asked around with my sources in the Democratic Party, no one seemed to know much of anything about it.

      Honestly, I feel bad for Walker — I know both he and his wife Katie. I like him and have had nothing but positive interactions with him — and until this summer, never heard a single negative word about the man.

      So my hope is that whatever is causing the situation is something that he and his family can navigate and come out whole.

      • Jim Codichini says:

        Mike, I agree with all of your points. Republicans not Democrats have been doing the talking. Politics being what it is we should understand that rumor-mongering is part of the sick game that many use to keep good people out. My personal interactions with Cuyler have been positive as well even though I supported his primary opponent. You used the words “until this summer” regarding the rumors which sounds like June or Julyish. Allegations aside the WHEN is important because it speaks to the question of how long the Republican hierarchy has known about this issue. That is newsworthy if you would be so kind as to share your WHEN with the Times readers.

        • Mike McGann says:


          It would be July…late in the month that I even had the first inkling that stuff was going around. But, you have to keep in mind that stuff ALWAYS goes around — the vast, vast majority of it false. Having been in and around my share of campaigns, as well has having covered even more, you generally put it in the “keep your ears open, but need a lot more info before you take it seriously.” And this is far from the only race that there are whispers — the others of which have turned out to be unfounded to this point.

          It’s only in the last few weeks that the tenor changed from the usual whispers to folks who I would normally count as mainstream GOP telling me “I’m really concerned about this.”

          That got me to asking questions — but with little effect at this point. Everybody says there’s something, but nobody talks specifics — always a red flag for me, as when covering previous situations like this the details always seem to emerge. When they don’t you really start questioning the validity.

          So while I continued to pursue answers, I was worried that the entire thing might not have merit, and proceeded slowly and with care. I’d always rather be second in reporting something, but get it right, than be first but wrong.

          Moving forward, we’re more focused on the process ahead. If Walker is removed from the ballot — which may not be as sure a thing as GOP leadership is describing, it appears the Democrats in Harrisburg are going to mount a legal challenge — is Ross willing to run again? And if so, what will the supporters of Roger Howard have to say about that? At best, it’s a minefield for the county GOP leadership.

          In terms of the vetting process — it’s a little hard to hammer anyone on that until we know what the issue was (and again, we’re assuming some dark secret, when it fact it could be something personal that he feels needs his full time attention). Having vetted candidates myself and had some very rough conversations with them, they don’t always tell you everything they should, figuring no one will find out…I always tell them that “someone knows, therefore someone will talk.” But not every candidate follows that advice.

          So, again, I wouldn’t be quick to jump to conclusions when it comes to party leadership’s role in all this, although as a candidate they recruited they have to bear some responsibility.

    • E Marlb Resident says:

      Denis – From what I am hearing the “youthful experimentations” were criminal acts. Poor choices can be explained by a candidate in today’s day and age. Criminal actions can not simply be brushed aside. Mr Walker and the GOP leaders (yes you too Rep Ross) have some explaining to do.

      Does any of this sound like Penn State ? Hopefully Mr. Walker and Rep Ross will tell the truth when asked. This community deserves to know.

  10. Joe Duffy says:

    Chris Ross stepping back in is like that little ‘space saving’ spare tire they put in the new cars these days. Its better than the flat tire but you can’t get much mileage out of it.

    Susan Rzucidlo is a brand new tire with 50,000 miles to go.
    She won’t preach or legislate morals to us; she’ll put the roads and bridges back into shape. She’s got my vote.

  11. Russell McKinnon says:

    I also voted for Roger Howard. Roger got the second most votes in the primary. I think he would be a shoe-in for the committee members to choose. Val DiGiorgio and our committee members needs to consider Roger Howard first. There is not enough time to get to know another candidate.

  12. E Marlb Resident says:

    There is no smoke without fire.

    ‘John Smith’ is right. The GOP Leadership AND the Upland School Board need to be asked – “what did you know and when did you know it?”.

    Chris Ross replacing Walker on the ticket?! Hold on here – Rep. Ross do you know why Mr. Walker stepped down from the Upland School Board? When did you know? As Rep Ross is practically Mr. Walker’s neighbor I am pretty sure Mr. Walker’s “personal” (a/k/a “legal”) issues are not news to him.

    “We’ll have more on this story as it develops.”

    Good to hear … stay on it Mike!

  13. Voter says:

    I voted for R Howard in the primary so if there is to be a replacement it should be him. He was on the ballot and he was voted on, nobody else was.

    • Bill Shaw says:

      I agree, why have primaries, if the candidates in the race are overruled by the party ? – Roger Howard was 2nd place so he should now be the candidate

  14. John Smith says:

    I hope the press continues to look into his ‘personal issues’. Start with why he was told to resigned from Upland Day School, his impending divorce and the rumors that have flooded the south.

    Biggest question of all is this- how long has Val DiGeorgio, Dom Pilleggi, and Chris Ross known about all this?

    No matter what, questions need to be answered on Walker and the Republican Party. I hope the Unionville Times will help in that endeavor.

    • Mike McGann says:

      A couple of things:

      Rumors are just that, rumors. We are aware of them and were seeking to find out whether they had any merit — keep in mind, we don’t have any interest in being part of a whisper campaign. If there are legitimate, provable issues, then we would report them.

      With Walker’s withdrawl, I would think there is less of a public need to examine issues with a private individual. That is he is a township supervisor does somewhat maintain a public interest.

      But — and this is a crucial but — if it amounts to nothing more than personal matters (and I won’t speculate in this space), its highly, highly unlikely we’ll cover it. Were it to be something involving law enforcement, or a public record, obviously, that would be a different matter.

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