Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Letter throws support to Spahn
BY DAN NEPHIN, Staff Writer
Straw polls are just beginning, but Lancaster County judicial candidate Merrill Spahn Jr. already has lined up support from former congressman Bob Walker, former state party chairman Dick Filling and former county chairman David Dumeyer, among others.
Their names, along with those of several other Republicans, including four area chairs, appear on a recent letter paid for by Spahn and giving him a "highly recommended" rating.
"After giving thoughtful consideration to those who have expressed an interest in this position, we feel compelled to share our choice with you, our fellow Republican," the letter states, in part.
At least one Republican thought such a letter was premature.
"I was just a little surprised and taken back because, generally, this kind of letter precedes the endorsement convention, not the interview process," said Bonnie Bowman, the county's recorder of deeds.
County party chairwoman Ann Womble declined comment Friday.
Committee member Glen Beiler, who supports Spahn but isn't among the signers, said such a letter is "part of the process."
Thomas Sponaugle, one of three other lawyers seeking the bench, said he respects those who've signed the letter and has a "firm belief committee people will make up their own mind whom they wish to support."
Candidate Chris Larsen, the county's first assistant prosecutor, said, "As a committeeman, I know that each man and woman who serves on the Republican Committee of Lancaster County is intelligent and will decide for him or herself which candidate to endorse" and that a review of his work would prove him to be that candidate.
Candidate Jayne Duncan, a district judge, said she hadn't seen the letter and couldn't comment.
Walker, whose name appears at the top of the letter, said the letter wasn't meant to replace the endorsement process.
"This was simply to demonstrate those who know (Spahn) and like him think that he would make a good endorsed candidate," he said.
Said Spahn, "I respect the straw poll process, and I respect what the committee does, and I would not run against the endorsement process."
If he is not endorsed at the party's convention Feb. 19, Spahn said he would support whoever is endorsed.
The letter said the decision did not come easy, noting, "… we are fortunate to have a group of qualified candidates from which to choose. Our challenge is to identify which is the best and most competent to serve on the bench."
It cites Spahn's temperament, experience and moral grounding.
It also says that, if, as expected, the judicial seat is in family court, Spahn's "experience working with broken and hurting families across our community will permit him to make an immediate, significant contribution to our court."
On Thursday, Spahn won the first of six straw polls of area Republican committees, followed by Sponaugle, Larsen and Duncan. The next straw poll is today. The candidates are seeking the seat held by Judge Louis Farina, who turns 70 this year, making him ineligible to run for another 10-year term.