Chuck McCullough's lucky green in the 2007 council at-large race. Chris Briem graphic.
Just as Allegheny County Republicans are starting to feel good about their Lloyd Christmas-like chances in the county executive race -- see my story Monday -- Chuck McCullough has started to make them very nervous.
With good reason.
McCullough announced Friday that he will join the suddenly crowded field of GOP executive candidates, despite facing trial on charges that he took money from an elderly legal client and donated it to political campaigns and charities. His trial is set to start May 9, just 8 days before the primary.
The GOP already has interesting candidates in tea party leader Patti Weaver and tech businessman D. Raja (who is expected to formally announce on Thursday) but McCullough could very well beat them, despite having no establishment support or money. He's done it before, and besides, that Irish last name (sure are a lot of them out there) seems to have a good deal of luck in it.
McCullough not only beat Kevin Acklin in the countywide GOP council-at-large race in 2007 -- after trying to withdraw from the race, due to the allegations above -- but his wife Patricia McCullough was the leading vote-getter statewide in the 2009 Commonwealth Court election. He's a hard worker (he has already been attending local GOP events) and is embracing his underdog role, getting in line with the tea party/grassroots crowd, and taking a lead role in battling this year's countywide property revaluations. He's said to be a good debater, as well, who would match up well against the other GOP and/or Democratic candidates.
Chris Briem has long said McCullough could be a county executive candidate, mostly because of the lack of well-known GOP candidates in the Democratic-controlled county and his publicity-generating stances against matters like the drink tax. And, as it's been shown, he's won on the countywide GOP ballot before. That's Chris's graphic above on the 2007 McCollough/Kevin Acklin race, which he reposted Sunday.
Whatever happens, he sure will be spending a lot of time in court this year -- besides his trial and the assessment arguments in Judge Wettick's courtroom, my bet is the GOP establishment will have its lawyers poring over every last letter of his nomination signatures, in an attempt to get elections Judge Joe James to toss him off the ballot. (McCullough is set to resign, under county rules, on March 8, the day he files his nomination petitions. James is set to hear petition challenges a couple weeks later.)