Ross gets official GOP nod for 158th

Democrats cry foul, demand answers over Walker’s withdrawal

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times


State Rep. Chris Ross (R-158).

It’s official: State Rep. Chris Ross will replace Cuyler Walker on the ballot as the Republican nominee for State Representative in the 158th District, after a formal voter of county committee members Sunday night — even as county Democrats continue to cry foul over the entire matter.

Ross, a nine-term incumbent from East Marlborough, won the initial vote, 31-13, over Roger Howard of East Marlborough. A second vote made the nomination unanimous. Both candidates were allowed to make their presentation before the full caucus and there appeared to be little contention after the fact, county party leaders said.

“I think Chris gave an excellent presentation,” GOP County Chairman Val DiGiorgio said, saying shared his desire to continue the work he’s been doing in Harrisburg. DiGiorgio said that the process allowed for both candidates to make their case — and he said the feedback he got was that all, including Howard’s supporters, thought it was fair.

DiGiorgio said he thinks Ross is uniquely suited to take over a race, especially this late in the cycle, as he remains very well-known and should have little problem raising money — plus the county committee has the resources to step in and help out, he said.

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to demand answers about Walker’s decision to leave the race Sept. 22 — specifically asking when county party officials knew there was a problem and when — and whether Walker, who currently serves as chair of the East Marlborough Board of Supervisors is the target of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Democrats say based on Walker invoking his Fifth Amendment rights Friday in seeking to prevent being cross examined on his reasons for withdrawing from the race, he is acknowledging an ongoing criminal investigation. Under state law, Walker was not required to specify his reason for seeking to withdraw.

“The voters deserve a full and public explanation of who knew about this criminal investigation and when they knew it.” said Chester County Democratic chair Brian McGinnis in a statement issued over the weekend. “Walker’s withdrawal from the ballot is jeopardizing the ability for overseas members of the military to have their vote count in this election.

“The public deserves a public explanation of what Chris Ross and Chester County Republican Chairman Val DiGiorgio knew regarding this matter and when they knew it. What are they trying to cover up? They have engaged in a political charade that threatens the integrity of the election process and the citizens of the 158th District deserve to know why.”

Under the law, a person invoking their Fifth Amendment rights is not taken as an admission of guilt. According to the motion filing, Walker cited public comments posted on The Unionville Times and elsewhere alleging possible criminal acts as being the motivation for his withdrawal from the race. To clarify, The Times has not at any time reported or suggested any motive for the move beyond Walker’s citation of personal issues, but readers have questioned it.

As yet, there is no evidence of an ongoing criminal investigation. Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said Tuesday he could neither confirm nor deny there was an active investigation of Walker.

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  1. Lorraine Stanish says:

    Does the editor know if Ross gets elected and then resigns, who gets to appoint his successor?
    L. Stanish
    East Marlborough Twp.

    • Mike McGann says:

      Yes, I do know: the voters decide. In the event of a resignation or death, the seat would be vacant until a special election could be called. For the record, Ross said Sunday night at the GOP caucus he expected to serve the entire term, I’m told. And honestly, as it would result in a special election, there’s little motivation for Ross to win the seat and resign.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    In a footnote to the motion asking to quash the subpoena Walker’s attorney
    states that, “Even though Walker would invoke his rights at this time, he remains willing, and intends to continue, to cooperate with law enforcement authorities while preserving his constitutional rights.”

    How are we to interpret the phrase, “…intends to continue…”?

    One might think that this indicates that an investigation is taking place.

    We may not assume that an investigation implies culpability but it would seem that an investigation is actually taking place.

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