Candidate from the right gets push from the left

Delco Dems work to split GOP's conservative votes

Posted: August 04, 2010

You'd think that Jim Schneller's ultraconservative rhetoric would sound best to tea-party voters and others who want to slash the size of the government, make abortion a crime or dismantle the Federal Reserve.

Not dyed-in-the-wool Democrats.

Yet, Schneller has suburban Democrats to thank for placing his name on the ballot in the 7th Congressional District race alongside Republican Pat Meehan and Democrat Bryan Lentz.

The circulators of Schneller's third-party nominating papers, which he filed Monday in Harrisburg, are practically a who's-who of Delaware County Democrats. They include:

* Swarthmore Democratic Party leader Colleen Guiney, whom Lentz has previously described as "the hardest worker on my campaign."

* Richard Cairns, Lentz's neighbor, who helped clear the Democratic primary field for Lentz by challenging the nominating petitions filed by two other candidates.

* Abu Rahman, president of the Delco Asian American Democratic Association; Julie Klein, a Democrat who has helped raise money for Lentz, and Arthur Manos, a Democratic union representative with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 152, who has supported Lentz.

The Lentz campaign has refused to confirm or deny if it played a role in placing Schneller on the ballot. Schneller, 54, of Wayne, who is running as the American Congress Party candidate, would likely siphon conservative votes from Meehan in a nationally watched race that could be close.

"Lentz's supporters and associates have engaged in an underhanded attempt to manipulate the ballot and split the conservative vote by using Jim Schneller as nothing more than a prop," said Meehan campaign manager Bryan Kendro. "Lentz's cynical political games show that he is a typical politician who will do or say anything to get elected."

Schneller's petition circulators also include Democratic committee people, a blogger with the Swarthmore College Democrats, a former co-chair of Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak's "Veterans for Sestak" group and a former employee of the House Democratic Campaign Committee who has worked for Lentz.

Delaware County Democratic Party Chairman David Landau acknowledged that Schneller could affect the congressional race, but said there was no coordinated party effort to get him on the ballot. "We're supporting Bryan Lentz," he said. "We're not supporting Schneller."

Schneller circulators contacted yesterday by the Daily News offered varying explanations for why they would help a right-wing candidate while backing Lentz. They all said they did not know if the Lentz campaign was involved in the effort. Guiney did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Don Adams, co-founder of the Independence Hall Tea Party Association, which covers the tristate area, said his group has endorsed Meehan. "He's serving as a spoiler, obviously," Adams said of Schneller.

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