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18th congressional district pa tim murphy
A week before Democratic Committee Members in PA’s 18th Congressional District choose their nominee for the special election to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Tim Murphy, one hopeful is taking a rather unusual route to the Democratic nod.

The Democratic field is crowded, with several candidates who have already announced and are actively campaigning in and around the district. Candidates include former Allegheny County Councilman and PSEA leader Mike Crossey, former Assistant US Attorney and Marine Corps prosecutor Conor Lamb, counselor and psychologist Dr. Rueben Brock, Navy Veteran and former Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Pam Iovino, Dr. Bob Solomon, who is a practicing medical doctor, and Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli, who made political waves this week when her lawsuit against the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee was dismissed as baseless.

Apparently, Gina Cerilli has decided to double down on her strategy of taking on the Democratic establishment, which is an odd choice in a race where relationship-building would seem to be a key component of a winning strategy.

At a recent event, Cerilli told a prominent labor leader that “I’ll be a Republican on everything but (organized) labor.” The comment was confirmed and verified by another individual present at the event. This is bizarre on many levels.

Gina Cerilli
Westmoreland County Commissioner and Congressional Candidate Gina Cerilli

I’ll be a Republican on everything but (organized) labor.

First, why in the world would you say something like that when you’re in a six-person race? People will be looking for a reason to pare down the field right away, and a Democrat disavowing the entire party platform (save for one plank) makes it way too easy to put Cerilli on the pay-no-mind list.

Second, anyone who has ever sat down with a labor leader, especially in Western Pennsylvania, knows they traditionally have the most finely-tuned political bullshit meters in the room. If Cerilli thinks she’s going to just tell groups what they want to hear and hope that nobody compares notes, she picked a really bad group to start with. Labor leaders hear from disingenuous candidates all the time, and they value blunt honesty, but saying you’re really a Republican in Democrat’s clothing is probably a bridge too far. Or as the kids say: #TMI, Gina.

Third, it seems as though Cerilli’s approach is to run as kind of a Tim Murphy-lite because everyone knows that all Western Pennsylvania Democrats are ultra-conservatives in disguise, right? That’s the political wisdom you hear from people at parties who like to sound politically savvy, but it’s also some of the laziest political analysis you’ll ever come across.

Everyone assumes that Democrat voters won’t support a “dyed in the wool” Democrat to fill Tim Murphy’s seat, but could it be that Democrats haven’t had a really good alternative to Murphy for the past decade? By conceding ideological defeat to the opposition party before you’ve even circulated a nominating petition, Cerilli runs the very real risk of alienating actual Democratic voters throughout the 18th District.

In her defense, the DINO (Democrat In Name Only) stance might play in Westmoreland County, where years of indoctrination from the right-leaning Tribune-Review made Democrat the dirtiest of all dirty words, but the 18th District is a lot more than Westmoreland County. If Cerilli thought this approach would fly in True Blue mainstays like Allegheny County, it demonstrates a stunning lack of political awareness from someone hoping to emerge from a crowded primary with a Democratic nomination in her pocket.

With the nomination for the Democratic nod for the Special Election less than a week away and the full-blown nomination process about to kick off, Gina Cerilli is serving up unforced errors left and right. If Cerilli is serious about this race, she’s going to need to remember a couple of things, beginning that she is running as a Democrat, and if she feels the need to apologize for that fact, the race probably isn’t going to end the way she wants.

Author

A passionate communicator, advocate, and opinion maker with executive-level experience in law, public policy, and government. (Don't let the boyish good looks fool you.) President of Perpetual Fortitude, a Pennsylvania-based political consulting and social media management firm. (www.perpetualfortitude.com)

5 Comments

  1. Gina Cerilli has also got a fun endorsement from a pro-life organization called LifePac, which states that they only endorse candidates that are against gay marriage.

    She then told a room full of progressives that she is actually for gay marriage, and would not overturn Roe vs. Wade.

    The girl is confused about what the Democratic Party platform is, but instead of recognizing that fact, she’s insisting that the Democratic Party in PA-18 cede to her.

    Because, as she told a room full of progressives, “you can’t elect someone in this district who is pro-choice, so the Democrats should compromise on that issue.”

    Gina Cerilli is nothing but a has been beauty pageant queen, who was willing to objectify herself for the sake of giving Donald Trump more publicity.

    She may be able to fool Trump voting Democrats (an easy bunch to fool), but this Democrat is in the #NeverGinaCerilli camp.

  2. It’s a six person race, and emergency physician Bob Solomon is pursuing a very credible campaign with Medicare for All as a central issue.

    Why did you leave him out?????

    • It was a clerical oversight; the post has been updated to include Dr. Solomon and a link to his campaign website.

      We will have more on all of the Democratic candidates in an article later this week.

      Our bad- sorry!

  3. Let me save your readers a click! This is the latest from Solomon for Congress on Facebook:

    The Whirlwind Continues
    Yesterday I spent time with three groups of Democratic activists: first Peters Township Citizens for Democracy, then Democrats for Action, Responsibility and Truth (DART) at the Burgettstown Grange, and then some folks willing to give me 90 minutes of their precious time on a Sunday evening in Greene County, at the Mission House in Waynesburg.
    I know I’d never talked politics and policy so much in one day before, and it was exciting and energizing.
    Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. She would have been 93, and she would have been proud. In 1942 she gave her high school valedictory address in Latin. In the months to come I hope to be spending countless hours talking politics and policy to thousands of voters all across this district. For many of them, when they get into the weeds of policy, it might as well be Latin. But I will make it all clear to them.
    If the Democratic party chooses me, the voters will hear a clear message about what our party stands for, and they will understand why we are right and the reactionary Rick Saccone is wrong for the people of our district. He would take us back to the 1950s, but we will move forward and do the right things to make life better for people and give them the future they need and deserve.
    In just six days, hundreds of members of Democratic Committees in PA-18 will convene in Little Washington and make a choice. If you are one of them, I ask for your vote. If you know Committee Members, please tell them why they should vote for me.
    I have the principles and ideology of the Democratic party at the core of my being – and the ability to carry the message to the voters with the passion and clarity it will take to get them to make the right decision in March and again next November.
    We have a chance to send to Washington, DC a new Congressman with The Right Stuff: I have three decades of experience at the hub of our healthcare system and the policy expertise to help shape the debate “inside the beltway.” I can lead Members of Congress to the best solutions to reform our healthcare system to make it work for all Americans.
    And I will be a tireless advocate for the Democratic ideals that will carry our nation forward to a better tomorrow.

  4. Bette Elliott

    What is her experience? She had none when she won the first race….and I might add that half the voters voted with their penis. She is pretty duh, but what has she done? nothing but shake hands and spend money on the facade of the Manor when they need so much more. Do not pick her. She is using her name, and may I add, that was ruined b her great uncle, to get into a higher position. This is my opinion.