Northampton County GOP wants to erase Terry Houck's write-in campaign for DA
EASTON, Pa. — If Northampton County District Attorney Terry Houck hopes to sew up his re-election campaign in this primary, he's going to need to overcome opposition on two fronts.
Northampton County Republican Committee Chairman Glenn Geissinger said he is discouraging members of his party from backing Houck's write-in campaign for the GOP nomination.
- Northampton County District Attorney Terry Houck is locked in a heated re-election race against Stephen Baratta in the Democratic primary
- With no candidate in the Republican primary, Houck is mounting a write-in campaign to win that race, too
- Glenn Geissinger, chairman of the Northampton County Republican Committee, is asking his party members not to vote for Houck
While no candidates filed to make it onto the May ballot, Geissinger said he may announce a write-in campaign effort from a potential candidate in the next few weeks.
"Terry Houck is not a Republican, and I would strongly ask the voters of the Republican Party not to write him in," Geissinger said.
Other write-ins underway
Local Republicans already are launching two write-in campaigns for county commissioner.
William Rowe is running for Northampton County commissioner in District 1, which represents the Bethlehem area. Rowe was removed from the Republican ballot after he failed to turn in paperwork with the Northampton County Council clerk.
Meanwhile, Northampton County Council President Kerry Myers switched parties last week to mount a Republican write-in campaign for District 2, which represents the Easton area. Myers was removed from the Democratic ballot after turning in more than 100 invalid signatures.
"The purpose of me running on the Republican side is that so I end the race in May. It's that simple."Northampton County District Attorney Terry Houck
Houck, a former Philadelphia police officer who's racked up endorsements from local police unions, is squaring off against Stephen Baratta in the Democratic primary.
But during a televised debate earlier this month, Houck acknowledged he hopes to secure the Republican nomination, as well.
"The purpose of me running on the Republican side is that so I end the race in May," Houck said. "It's that simple."
Unusually heated race
The campaign between Baratta and Houck has been unusually heated for an office that for decades was dominated by John Morganelli, the former district attorney who now serves as a Northampton County judge.
Baratta, a retired Northampton County judge, has accused Houck of mismanaging the office while Houck alleges Baratta has spread lies and falsehoods in a bid to win the office.
Both men claim the other has acted unethically — Houck claims Baratta wrongly commented on a criminal case over which he presided, while Baratta says Houck shouldn't allow his top lieutenant to run his own private practice on top of his full-time responsibilities.
"I'd like to see the two of them duke it out and put a real Republican forward."Northampton County Republican Committee Chairman Glenn Geissinger
If Houck secures the Democratic nomination and collects enough write-in votes to earn the Republican nomination, he would be an extreme favorite to win the general election.
Even if he loses the Democratic primary to Baratta, getting enough write-ins to be the Republican nominee would let him appeal to the larger voter base in November.
Geissinger doesn't want to see either scenario unfold.
"I'd like to see the two of them duke it out and put a real Republican forward," he said.
On Thursday, Houck said the write-in campaign isn't intended to be political. Republicans don't have anyone on the ballot, and those voters should be allowed to get behind a candidate they support.
"This really, to me, is not a Republican-type issue," he said. "It's a, 'Is this guy doing a good job?' issue."