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Franklin County GOP chair fends off challenge to leadership

May 20, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Franklin County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Taylor easily retained his position Monday, fending off a challenge by party members at odds with his leadership.

Taylor, who finished second in the April 22 GOP primary for the Pennsylvania State Senate, was re-elected chairman by a vote of 51-28 over former party chairman Roger Beckner during the reorganization meeting.

After nominations closed, Committeeman Tim Bittle asked Taylor about a letter he sent on party letterhead to some committee members, asking them not to re-elect party Treasurer Kathy Mahon.

"I'm a committee person and I did not get this letter," said Bittle, who added that he thought the letter impugned Mahon's character.

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"Who's your next target?" Bittle asked.

"That went to 30 of my closest supporters," said Taylor, who acknowledged that it should not have been sent on party stationery.

Bittle asked what Taylor had done to support Republican candidates in the primary, to which Taylor responded that the party does not endorse candidates in primaries.

"I'll do what I'd do for any Republican candidate ... The committee will support the nominee," Taylor said when asked if he would endorse the Republican nominee for the state Senate, Richard Alloway.

Bittle said Taylor running for office while remaining chairman "creates a huge conflict of interest."

"Party chairmen run frequently and no one ever complains unless they're on the other side," Taylor said.

"I'm a conservative and I ran as a conservative," Taylor said to the committee before the vote. "The Republican Party is supposed to represent Republican principles, not Republican elected officials, and you'd better get that through your heads."

Beckner said when he decided to run for chairman, he believed Taylor was not running for re-election. When he learned Taylor would run again, Beckner said he "decided to stay with it."

Beckner said he believed he could "get the old and new hard working people" of the party together.

Mahon lost her bid to remain treasurer to Larry Funk of Greencastle, Pa., by a vote of 48-30.

"I don't think I've done anything to undermine Mr. Taylor," Mahon said before the vote. In the letter, Taylor wrote that Mahon was the campaign treasurer for Alloway.

Mahon acknowledged she supported Alloway, but said she was treasurer for state Rep. Rob Kauffman's campaign.

"I don't appreciate the lies, Jim," she said.

Taylor said he was aware she was Kauffman's treasurer, but "got it twisted around in my head."

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