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Franklin Co. reps not entering Senate race

Republican chairman only candidate for PuntâEUR(TM)s seat so far

Republican chairman only candidate for PuntâEUR(TM)s seat so far

January 17, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. ? In a little more than 14 weeks, the Republican and Democratic parties in the Pennsylvania Senate's 33rd District will be picking nominees to replace State Sen. Terry Punt, who announced Thursday he will retire at the end of the year.

The time for potential candidates to make up their minds, however, is considerably less. Tuesday is the first day candidates may circulate petitions to appear on the ballot in the April 22 primary. Those petitions, with at least 500 signatures, have to be submitted to the state by Feb. 12, according to the 2008 Pennsylvania election calendar.

With Punt's withdrawal, the only announced candidate is Franklin County Republican Chairman Jim Taylor, who announced last week.

"It's not a surprise, really. We thought something like this was going to happen," Taylor said in reaction to Punt's announcement. "I just hope he doesn't try and get someone in there who is supported by the leadership in Harrisburg."

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The people of the Senate district should decide who will represent them, he said. Taylor said he had not heard anything specific about other possible candidates for the Republican nomination.

Representatives satisfied with jobs

Two state representatives who live in Franklin County said Thursday they will try to keep their present jobs, rather than move up to the Senate.

"I think there will be a lot more options than there are today," state Rep. Rob Kauffman said. However, the two-term representative will not be among those running for Punt's seat.

"My petitions have been sent out. I'm running for re-election in the 89th District. I am not running for the Senate of Pennsylvania this year," Kauffman said Thursday. "I love the people of the 89th District. I love my family. It's just not the right time."

"I've missed T-ball games I wish I hadn't missed," said Kauffman, who noted that Senate districts are much larger and could mean less time with his family.

"I'm happy with the job I'm doing. I'm running for a second term and I'm getting ready to send out my announcements to do so," said state Rep. Todd Rock, R-Franklin. He said the Senate district, with 250,000 people spread over more than two counties would be a "tremendous commitment" he would not jump into overnight.

Bob Thomas and Punt's former aide considering candidacy

"To put together a campaign team to run in a district that large would be a challenge," Rock said. The first-term representative said he will not be throwing his support behind any Senate candidate in the primary.

"This is the Republican primary and I'm not interested in taking sides," Rock said.

"I have been approached by a lot of people. The phone has been ringing off the hook," said Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas, who is just beginning his fourth term. "However, I enjoy what I'm doing now and I think I have an opportunity to shape the direction of this county for the next four years."

"I haven't said yes and I haven't said no," Thomas said. "I have hardly even had a chance to talk to my wife."

"Yes, I am seriously considering it," Magisterial District Judge Richard Alloway, a former aide to Punt, said Thursday. Under Pennsylvania law, however, judges have to resign from office prior to announcing a run for anything other than another judicial office, he said.

Several other Republican politicians indicated they were not running or did not return telephone messages.

While Franklin County Republicans and Democrats are contemplating whether to throw their hats in the ring, the 33rd District Punt represents also includes Adams County and the western part of York County where politicians or those with political ambitions may also be eyeing a run for the office.

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