PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — State Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York County) calls himself the most conservative appropriations chairman in decades, and yet he was defeated in the primary election for not being conservative enough.
“Was I surprised? A little bit on Election Day,” said Saylor. The political world was shocked that the 28-year incumbent and appropriations chairman was soundly defeated by an unknown challenger.
“People weren’t looking at what you had done but rather, I just want a new face, so that’s what happened. They got a new face,” Saylor said.
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That new face is Wendy Fink, who criticized Saylor for not fighting Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic shutdowns and for being a “career politician.”
“Too many people were not informed on what really was going on here at the Capitol. I think today, those who yell the loudest on Facebook and Twitter get a lot more attention, and that’s not good for government,” Saylor said.
But Saylor was not a good Conservative, argued fellow York County State Rep. Mike Jones (R), and he compromised too much with Democrats on budgets that spent too much. Jones endorsed Fink the week before the election.
“The conservative wing of the party, we’re just not going to be taken for granted anymore and ignored. I’ve tried to work within the system for three and a half years and largely been ignored. This is my attempt to make our party actually stronger,” Jones said. “I fear we get a little lukewarm. We need to do what we say we’re going to do and fight hard to do it.”
Saylor says he doesn’t hate Jones. Rather, he said, “I’m disappointed in him because I’m really concerned that he doesn’t understand what the legislature is about. I think he needs to learn and get educated about how things work in government.”
“When you’re somebody who is a backbencher, you’re not in the mix every day, and you may feel jilted that you aren’t,” Saylor said. But it was Saylor who was jilted by voters.
“Compromise has become a dirty word,” said Democratic Appropriations Chairman Matt Bradford. Bradford worries the ideological wing of the Republican party is growing while the governing wing is shrinking.
“To weaponize compromise against your own leaders is foolhardy, and I don’t know where it leads to, but it can’t possibly be good,” Bradford said.
Jones said, “I am not talking about being obstructionist or saying ‘no,’ I’m talking about being proactive, using the power of the purse strings.”
Saylor says that when he leaves the legislature on Nov. 30 with other politicians, such as Senate Appropriations Chair Pat Browne (R-Lehigh County), who were voted out in the primaries, “We’ll go do something else.”
Saylor and Browne will still oversee this year’s budget, which is due June 30.