With an incumbent preoccupied with a longshot bid to become Pennsylvania’s next lieutenant governor, Republican Sonia Stopperich could prove to be a formidable opponent to Democratic state Rep. Brandon Neuman in the 48th Legislative District.
It would be very safe to say, however, that her campaign has gotten off to a stumbling start.
First, there was a press release announcing the North Strabane Township supervisor’s candidacy that was sent last week to the Observer-Reporter and, presumably, other media outlets, from a township email account used by Greg Sulc, the township’s parks and recreation director. Sulc is also Stopperich’s boyfriend and the assistant to her campaign treasurer. This, of course, should have been sent from a private account, on Sulc’s own time. Sulc later said that he was on his lunch hour and accidentally sent the release from his township account.
Then, a few days later, an invitation for a fundraiser for Stopperich’s 50th birthday went out online listed Sulc’s township cellphone as a number people could call to RSVP for the wingding. When confronted about it, Sulc said it was his “everything number” and Stopperich explained that Sulc “doesn’t have another phone.”
Setting aside the fact that cellphones and their accompanying plans can be had for relatively little money, Stopperich and Sulc would do well to refresh themselves on the activities that got both former state Rep. Bill DeWeese and former state Sen. Jane Orie in so much hot water – both were convicted and sent to prison for using taxpayer-paid resources and personnel for campaign work. In fairness, Sulc’s use of the township cellphone and computer a time or two for Stopperich’s campaign, whether by accident or design, is more a misstep than a crime, and North Strabane’s manager, Frank Siffrinn, has promised that the township’s supervisors will deal with it.
If Stopperich hopes to topple Neuman, her campaign is going to have to demonstrate more competence and common sense than it has in the last week.