Pennsylvania Republicans chose Stradley Ronon lawyer Val DiGiorgio as their next chairman in a final showdown that was as close as the race was contentious.
DiGiorgio won by a mere two votes over challenger Lawrence Tabas, 173 to 171.
The race, the state party’s first contested chairmanship in a generation, had grown increasingly bitter as supporters of each candidate went online to air grievances about the other – both are lawyers who hail from the Philadelphia region.
Some perceived the vote as a referendum on the rise of Trumpism in the commonwealth. Tabas, an Obermayer lawyer who worked as counsel under outgoing chair Rob Gleason, had been an early supporter of President Donald Trump with deep connections to the party base through his work as the state party’s lawyer.
DiGiorgio, meanwhile, had wavered during last year’s Presidential Primary, initially backing Marco Rubio before campaigning for Trump during the general election. He had also gained the support of establishment Republicans like fundraiser Bob Asher and US Sen. Pat Toomey, which some held up as evidence that he was out-of-touch with the grassroots movement that delivered the once reliably blue state for Trump.
Supporters took shots at Tabas’ law firm, which profited off of legal work done for the state party during his tenure, and DiGiorgio’s wife, who had worked under Democrat Josh Shapiro. At the 11th hour, an associate of prominent lobbyist Ray Zaborney mass-mailed Republicans to trash Tabas for serving as a defense witness at the bribery trial of Democratic PA Sen. Larry Farnese.
Some said Zaborney was being paid to lobby on behalf of DiGiorgio, although the lobbyist denied these charges.
Both men downplayed the venom being deployed on their behalf. At the final vote during the state party’s winter meeting over the weekend, Tabas praised DiGiorgio, calling him a “great leader.”
The state party also voted on the following leadership posts and judicial candidacies:
Vice Chair: Bernadette Comfort
Treasurer: D. Raja
Secretary: Andy Reilly
Assistant Secretary: Peg Ferraro
Justice Sallie Updyke Mundy
Judge Emil Giordano
Judge Wade Kagarise
Judge Paula Patrick
Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon
Paul N. Lalley