The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 21, 2013

GOP plans to pick House candidate

Kathy Mellott

BEDFORD — Republican leaders from the state House 78th district will meet in Bedford next month to choose their candidate to run in a special election set for late January to fill the seat created by the death of Dick Hess.

Twenty conferees from all of Bedford and Fulton counties and a small portion of Huntingdon County will meet in what is termed a “conferee meeting” at the Bedford Elks Country Club on Nov. 18.

Leaders of the sate GOP will preside over the session, which will allow interested parties to outline their platforms to the public and those voting on a candidate.

Any Republican interested in filling the seat is asked to contact party leaders by Nov. 1, to guarantee all candidates are included in the process, according to a release from the state Republican Party.

Hess, 74, a Republican from Bedford, died Sept. 6 following leg surgery at a Pittsburgh hospital.

He was in the first year of his 14th two-year term in the House and reportedly planned to seek a 15th term when he died.

A breakdown provided by the state committee shows a total of 20 conferees. Bedford County  is allotted 14, Fulton County 5 and Huntingdon County 1.

Each county’s party committee will choose its conferees. The names will be released to the public prior to the Nov. 18 session, according to information provided by the party.

Democratic leaders from the three counties in the 78th also plan to have a candidate on the ballot of the special election set for Jan. 28, said Faith Zembower, Bedford County register and recorder.

“There has been some interest,” said Zembower.

Specifics of any conferee meeting were not available Monday, but Zembower said candidates have until Dec. 9, the deadline when candidate names must be ready for the ballot.

The GOP meeting will give each candidate time to make a brief presentation and answer questions. After each has been heard, the conferees will vote.

A nominated candidate must receive a majority of the votes cast to get the nomination and no proxies will be permitted.

Interested candidates should contact Cody Harbaugh, deputy political director of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania at 717-234-4901, ext. 142 or email at by Nov 1.

Kathy Mellott covers Bedford County for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at