ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — Joe Rockey, a retired PNC Bank executive, extended an olive branch to disgruntled Democrats, who saw their more moderate candidates lose to the progressive Sarah Innamorato.
Earle spoke with the Republican nominee on Wednesday afternoon on the steps of the Allegheny County Courthouse.
Earle: Can a Republican win in Allegheny County?
Rockey: A centrist can win in Allegheny County. I tell people the only R in this race is Rockey. I believe those individuals who voted for those three candidates are highly likely to consider Joe Rockey as their candidate when it comes to November.
Republicans have had a difficult time in Allegheny County where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by a margin of 2-1.
But it’s not impossible for a Republican to win.
Republican Jim Roddy won the very first county executive election 23 years ago, when he beat Democrat and renowned forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht.
Rockey believes the timing is right and he claims Innamorato’s win actually gives him an even better shot at victory.
“Her views push the middle towards someone who is in the middle which is where I am,” said Rockey, who indicated that his beliefs or more in line with the more moderate democrats who were in the race, like Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb and Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein.
Rockey, who was born and raised on the North Side and lives in Ohio Township, retired from PNC Bank last year.
His campaign, he said, will focus on attracting businesses, creating jobs, expanding the existing energy industry through fracking, and reducing crime and homelessness. Rockey said if elected, he will visit 100 businesses in an effort to convince them to come to Allegheny County. Rockey said he has the knowledge and experience to do the job. This is his first run for public office.
He emphasized that there are clear differences between him and Innamorato, including his support of fracking.
But Rockey knows he can’t win without the support of some crossover democrats.
And he extended an invitation to them to join his campaign.
“I welcome all of the democrats who believe that the future of Allegheny County is making common sense solutions, and implementing those solutions for the betterment of all of us in Allegheny County,” said Rockey.
Rockey also said he’s already been in touch with the Building Trades Council that supported John Weinstein, and he plans to reach out to the other candidates in an effort to gain their support. We reached out to the Building Trades Council but as of this writing haven’t heard back.
The Allegheny County Labor Council also supported Weinstein, but on Wednesday morning they issued a news release indicating that they now plan to work with the Democratic nominee.
“We congratulate Sara Innamorato on her historic victory as the Democratic nominee for Allegheny County Executive. While Sara was not our endorsed nominee, we share many core values, and she has worked hard throughout her career to build good working relationships with our members and the workers we represent. We appreciate all she has done to build those relationships, we know her heart is with our members, and we look forward to continuing to work together. We know that there are a lot of serious issues to work out between us, but we are committed to putting in that work and finding a way to move forward together, and we believe that she shares that commitment,” said ACLC President Darrin Kelly.
We also reached out to Innamorato’s campaign and they sent us this statement in response to Rockey’s claims.
“Rep. Sara Innamorato has a record of building powerful coalitions with Democrats, Independents, and Republicans to deliver transformational results for everyday people — just look at the $125 million Whole Home Repairs Program. Throughout this campaign, she has brought together our seniors and our teenagers, organized Labor and environmentalists, Black, Jewish, and LGBTQ+-led organizations, national progressive movements, and elected leaders at every level from members of Congress to local school board directors and borough council members — and we’re just getting started. The people of Allegheny County believe in the core issues that Sara is advocating for including affordable housing, expanding mental healthcare, environmental justice, and creating more good-paying union jobs. We look forward to meeting more of our neighbors across this county where they’re at and working with them to build an Allegheny County where all of us can thrive,” said Sam Wasserman, Innamorato’s campaign spokesperson.
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