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Franklin County Republicans stir their agenda at rally

September 24, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER/Staff Correspondent

MARION, PA. - Machine politics might be dead, but the gears still grind one handshake at a time in Franklin County, where Republican candidates came on Saturday to secure votes with a shake and a smile.

Hosted by the Franklin County Republican Party, the 50th annual GOP Corn Soup Rally welcomed an estimated 400 voters from the right of America's ideological divide with issues as hot as a steaming bowl of corn soup.

Jim Taylor, Franklin County chair of the Republican Party, said the rally was designed to energize the party and encourage voting.

Adorned with American flags and yard signs, the Marion Festival Ground resounded with music from America's golden years as candidates called for reform and a return to conservative values.

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The candidates stressed the need to reform state government.

Running on a platform headed with property tax reform, Jim Matthews, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, spoke to voters and urged them to cast their vote for reform in November.

"Property taxes have been a problem in this state for 25 to 35 years," he said. "What was Rendell's plan? He didn't have one. We do."

Matthews said that he and Republican gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann will fight to place a statewide cap of 3 percent on annual property tax increases.

Todd Rock, Republican candidate for the 90th District seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, delivered a similar party line, saying, "Harrisburg currently doesn't work for the individual. We need reform."

While candidates called for reform in the state, they urged residents to uphold the growing conservative status quo and keep national government leaning to the right.

Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster asked voters to not only give him another two years in Congress, but also to give Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum another six years in the Senate, calling the race between Santorum and Democratic candidate Bob Casey "ground zero, the number one target race for the Senate."

Like Shuster, Matthews also voiced support for Santorum, saying, "This commonwealth needs Rick Santorum."

Candidates repeatedly affirmed to residents on Saturday the power voters wield at the ballot box.

"All politics are local," Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas said. "Governor, senator, lieutenant governor, even president - local people elect these individuals."

Shippensburg University sophomore, Brandon Tresler, 19, who will vote for the first time in November, felt his energy grow at the rally as he enjoyed the freedom of expressing political views he normally suppresses.

"I am exited about voting in the election," the young Republican said.

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