PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County Republicans have a new party chair.
A 60-year-old North Fayette salesman was elected on Saturday to replace D. Raja who resigned after losing a state Senate seat.
The new chair is Allegheny County Councilman Sam DeMarco who sat down with KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.
When Republicans in Allegheny County voted in the May primary, there were no Republican candidates running for most county-wide offices.
Delano: Is the Republican Party broken in Allegheny County?
DeMarco: I think it absolutely is, or was, because we’re going to fix it.
DeMarco is the new chairman of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County.
“Our failure to even field candidates for positions, we’re not giving people a choice.”
No Republicans filed to run for district attorney, treasurer, county controller and five of the seven county council district seats.
DeMarco pledges to change that.
So who is Sam DeMarco?
“I was born and raised in Mt. Washington and Beechview before I joined the Marine Corps when I was 17 years old.”
“Upon returning from the Marine Corps, I went to school at Community College of Allegheny County and the University of Pittsburgh.”
Trained as a glazier in the building trades, DeMarco moved on to sales and led a Tea Party affiliate called Veterans and Patriots United.
Now as party chair, DeMarco wants to rebuild the local Republican Party.
“I need to build the infrastructure,” he says.
“I need to increase the number of members that we have here. I need to bring folks who are interested, folks whose core values align with ours — people in the pro-gun, pro-life, pro-school choice groups,” says DeMarco.
Delano: Does President Trump make it easier or harder for you to rebuild the Republican Party in Allegheny County?
DeMarco: He’s making it easier because I’m telling you, there’s a tremendous amount of enthusiasm around him.
DeMarco praises Trump’s economic policies, but what about Trump’s tweets like those about the four Democratic congresswomen?
Delano: Are those remarks that you would embrace?
DeMarco: I probably wouldn’t say that, but what you’re seeing here is 2020 politics already. You’re seeing Democrats coming out and accusing him of being a racist because with a booming economy, no president has ever lost in their run for reelection. So they got to try to make him unacceptable.
Delano: Is he a racist?
DeMarco: Absolutely not.
Of course, everyone has an opinion on that question.
It’s important because the perception of President Trump may have played a role when Democrats won two special elections locally — Conor Lamb for Congress and Pam Iovino for state Senate.
Suburban Republican women voted for those two Democrats — and will be key in 2020.
Allegheny County was the only county in western Pennsylvania that the President lost in 2016.
DeMarco predicts Trump will do even better here in 2020.