Gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf has selected Katie McGinty as his choice to lead the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and Rep. Jake Wheatley to be Vice Chair. Traditionally the sitting Governor or Gubernatorial candidate gets to appoint the State Chair who is then elected by State Committee. He/she gets to have the team they want going into the general election and on. Current Chair Jim Burn however is refusing to go quietly and next weekend the PA Dems will wind up fractured because of Burn’s decision.
The selection of Wheatley as Vice Chair is interesting due to his anti-public education record and a past felony conviction in Michigan. From PennLive:
Rep. Jake Wheatley Jr., D-Allegheny, pleaded guilty in 1992 to felony larceny and misdemeanor assault charges related to a fight in the parking lot of a Pontiac, Mich., shopping mall when he was 20 years old. He served two years of probation, and two newspapers reported in early 2003 he had the charges expunged shortly before he was sworn in.
He told the New Pittsburgh Courier in 2002 that he threw two punches and took someone’s coat, calling it a heated argument that turned into a brawl.
Wheatley, now 38, also was charged with assault on a female in Guilford County, N.C., in 1995, but that charge was dismissed, according to the district attorney’s office. A 1996 misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge in Guilford County had been “dismissed with leave” in 1998 after Wheatley did not appear in court, said Joe Davis with the Guilford County District Attorney’s Office in a recent interview. But on Oct. 27, after the AP raised questions about the case, the charge was fully dismissed, Davis said. Wheatley did not respond to several messages seeking comment.
Why is he even in the State House? Past Supreme Court decisions have determined that anyone convicted of a felony is to be barred from any elected office in the Commonwealth.
Wheatley has also voted for Republican anti-education bills supporting vouchers and, just this week, to deny seniority to teachers in the layoff process. Republicans in Harrisburg have eviscerated K12 public education to such an extent that Mr. Wolf has a 20-25 point lead over Tom Corbett in the race for Governor. Allowing our experienced educators to be layed off in spite of their seniority and in violation of negotiated contract agreements is shameful. Some are already hesitant in supporting Wolf over education issues so backing Jake Wheatley for the post of Vice Chair will only exacerbate those misgivings.
I contacted the Wolf campaign for comment and their decision is to stick with Wheatley. The Vice Chair must be male if Katie McGinty is Chair and they wanted someone from western PA and someone who could add some diversity to leadership. They say the Representative is embarrassed by his past but has moved past those times.
Of course not all his transgressions are in the distant past.