As we approach the Primary Election, I wanted to emphasize that the position of Lieutenant Governor should not be taken lightly or relegated to an afterthought.
The individual Republican chosen as our nominee for this position, first and foremost needs to be someone ready and able to step into the governorship at the drop of a hat. Quite literally, this individual will be a heartbeat away from leading our Commonwealth on Day One of their tenure in office.
We need someone who has been around the block once or twice, not someone just at the beginning of their vocational journey through life. We need someone who knows both Harrisburg and the private sector. We need someone with broad life experience.
While I'm currently serving my fourth term in the House of Representatives, I spent a long time in the private sector before being elected.
My audio/video business will be celebrating its 30th year of operation this year. I started the business with a $6,000 investment of my savings in December 1992. Launched as a small audio recording studio, it was not long before I branched out into duplicating cassette tapes for my clients. In 1997 I expanded into duplicating compact discs, the first company to offer that service in Pennsylvania.
My business is strictly a part-time venture now, as I believe the role of a State Representative deserves my full attention. But I'm proud that my business not only survived, but flourished, in the face of the fact that 95 percent of start-ups fail at some point during their first five years.
Signing the front of a paycheck for others, from a business you've built from raw determination and innovation, is a great and rewarding responsibility. The people you employ depend on you being a good steward with your company's path forward.
Prior to starting my business, I worked in a factory on a vinyl sheeting production line for seven years, and spent a couple years as a working musician. My first jobs – bussing tables at a restaurant, selling instruments at a music store, and pumping diesel on third shift at a truck stop – all honed my work ethic and provided great lessons in common sense.
In 2013 I sold off the portion of my business that required maintaining a physical location and trained to become an over-the-road truck driver. I spent about 18 months on that job, and would remain away from home for 5-6 weeks at a time.
Although both my primary and general election campaigns for State Representative in 2014 were quite contentious, I continued to drive truck right up until 6 weeks before the general election when I took a leave of absence to return home and actively campaign. I won the general election, and have increased my vote share in every election since.
In addition to my working career, I got involved in politics in 2004. In 2005, I launched a statewide organization to recruit candidates for the General Assembly after the infamous midnight pay raise.
My organization supported 113 legislative candidates that year, thirteen of whom won election to the House of Representatives. One of them was my predecessor in the 102nd District. Another is now the Speaker of the House.
Along the way, we also spearheaded the first-ever non-retention of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice in Pennsylvania history. The ousting of Democrat Justice Russell Nigro in November 2005 paved the way for Republicans to secure a majority on that Court.
In recognition of these efforts, I was named the Philadelphia Inquirer's Citizen of the Year on January 1, 2006. Our organization was awarded the Golden Dot Award for Best PAC or Non-Partisan Internet Campaign by George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management.
Other recognition of my work included the Public Service Achievement Award from Common Cause/PA, and the Communicator of the Year award from the Harrisburg chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.
Due to the nature of my political activism before my election to the House of Representatives, many of my colleagues were a bit wary of me at first. They expected me to be a bomb-thrower, so to speak. But my long experience in the private sector – both as an employer and as an employee – prepared me well not just to participate, but to lead when possible, within a team of over one hundred members of the House Majority Caucus.
This is the same teamwork I'll practice when working with our gubernatorial nominee to reach the maximum number of Pennsylvania voters to defeat Josh Shapiro. After we win that election, our next Governor can count on me to be a productive part of his or her Executive Branch team as well. The respectful relationships I've forged with my colleagues in the House and Senate in Harrisburg will go far in helping our next Governor hit the ground running.
It's a sad fact that it's been almost a dozen years since a Governor has stepped into the House Majority Caucus room to talk policy or priorities with his rank-and-file legislative partners. We need to re-establish regular and open communications between the Executive and Legislative branches of government if we expect Pennsylvania to ever change for the better.
As you consider who you'll back as our next Lieutenant Governor, I hope the overall life experience of that person is given the full weight it deserves. Immediately upon inauguration, that individual must be fully prepared to step into the role of Governor and lead our Commonwealth for the remainder of the elected term.
My decades in the private sector, my award-winning political activism, and my experience in the House of Representatives have all prepared me for that possibility, unfortunate as it would be.
The position of Lieutenant Governor deserves to be filled by a proven team player with a wealth of broad lifetime experience. I have that experience, and I respectfully ask for your consideration and support.
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