The Washington Post is proud to partner with The Washington Post in bringing our originally reported insider political news to a wide audience of decision makers and opinion leaders across the country.

Close it

GOP wants party unity, but Russel’s not budging; will write-in himself for special

GOP wants party unity, but Russel’s not budging; will write-in himself for special

After Republicans nominated businessman Tim Burns as their special election candidate in the 12th Congressional District, state party chairman said he hoped that military veteran Bill Russell would get behind the GOP’s candidate.

But Russell, ever the anti-establishment candidate, is sticking to his guns. He’s continued to criticize the process by which Burns was nominated. He’s preparing to go up against Burns in the May primary to be held the same day as the special election. And he says—only half-jokingly—that he won’t even vote for Burns over Democrat Mark Critz in the special election, opting instead to write himself in.

Despite his role as a favorite of the conservative base, his refusal to back Burns in the special election, voiced again during a Town Hall meeting last week in Indiana, brought him some heat on the blogosphere.

“Man up Mr. Russell!” wrote Brian O’Connor on the blog Red Dog Report. “If you have not noticed, the Democrats are attempting to strip our Constitution and spend our children’s  future away. Every Republican needs to do his part.”

In an interview Friday, Russell told that his refusal to directly support Burns does not come from any personal animosity for the wealthy businessman. Rather, Russell said, he is protesting the selection process itself, and the behavior of the Republican State Committee.

“We can’t change Washington until we win back the whole of our party,” Russell said. “As long as we have back-room deals and a small cadre in the state party trying to force candidates on voters, whether it be in special elections or the  general endorsement process, we will not be able to achieve anything. I won’t support a process that is not open and free.”

Russell was adamant is saying he won’t vote for Critz in the special election—as some had quietly speculated—insisting that he is loyal to the GOP and determined to get a Republican into the seat. But instead of voting for Burns, Russell said he would write himself in on the ballot.

“I still think I am the best candidate to take over in the 12th,” Russell said. “So I’m going to vote for myself as a write-in.”

March 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm

--John Manganaro

Tags: , , ,


comments [23] | post a comment

  1. Anonymous

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    Grassroots Republicans regularly fail to learn the all important axiom of politics. To get along you must go along. Russell, when you actually make it past being a political hack then you can try and reform the process. Until then you must learn to work within it. The process is in place for a reason; it is tried and true. Tried and true Sir, something a political hack like you is most certainly not.

  2. Joe Collins

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    “Get along go along” is not the lesson for the grassroots. “Pick your battles wisely” is a better lesson. Picking this fight is not wise, and serves no real purpose in the grand scheme of things.

  3. Ted MacIntosh

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    Bill Russel is a great American and clearly the best candidate for the GOP. How did the party select Tim Burns? What has Tim Burns done for America? Who is Tim Burns?

    Check out Tim Burns’ voting record. The guy doesn’t vote and for being such a “successful businessman” has hardly even contributed to the GOP.

    Russel is right. The back room deals need to stop. Everyone can see that Russel is the best candidate for the GOP.

  4. Tom

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    Russell needs to understand that if he wants to be part of the solution, then he needs to participate in the political process. Complaining about the process does no good for anyone. Russel should instead devote his time to supporting Burns in an effort to help defeat the evils he sees in society. Whining about losing does no good for anyone and it is not appropriate in these challenging times.

  5. Mdog

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    Colonel: You are correct. Burns is a phony candidate. Who can take his tweets about “Going to church and buying ammo.” Makes me want to projectile vomit. You are the authentic voice of the voter who has lost his voice to these RINOS and Country Club Republicans. Colonel, keep fighting for us! By the way, remind Tim Burns he needs to vote more often. He may have traveling during some elections, but I know some men who were traveling in Iraq and Afghanistan and still managed to vote.

  6. Brett

    Mar 22nd, 2010


  7. James

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    Why can’t they work out a compromise where Russell backs out of the primary, but if Burns loses the special election to Critz he will back out of the general and allow the GOP to replace him with Russell in Nov? Seems like a fair solution.

  8. Jerry P., PA

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    Gleason who appointed Burns is linked to Kuchera Industries. Kuchera Industries was raided by the FBI and was investigated by the Federal Elections Commission. And this from Mr. Gleason’s brochure for his companies, Gleason Insurance, Gleason Financial, and Gleason Technology:

    “We have been able to build our business, knowing Gleason is looking out for all of our insurance needs.”

    Ronald Kuchera, Chief Financial Officer
    Kuchera Industries

    With Jack Murtha gone, how will Gleason use Tim Burns.

  9. Jerry P., PA

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    Bill Russell (the peoples candidate) should challenge Tim Burns (Gleason’s candidate) to a debate.

  10. Reality Check

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    These posts about Russell being the candidate against the establishment are a joke. Russell fought for a party endorsement just as hard as any of the other candidates running. He did not get it because he is not the best candidate. For him to attack the party system now is transparent political opportunism. Burns is a great candidate for his views and a great individual for his character.

  11. T Minich

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    Colonel Russell, don’t help the Dem’s get another
    foothold in that district. Thanks for your service,
    but let’s get together and win that seat.

  12. Dan

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    Representatives were taken from each county in the district according to their size and their voting records in the past presidential election and were given the opportunity to vote for a candidate for the 12th Congressional District. They then overwhelmingly supported Tim Burns.

    Splitting the party right now is far from what our goal should be. We have the chance to take a seat that has been held by a Democrat for a few decades. How does splitting the vote and turning Republican against Republican help us win? It doesn’t.

  13. S Zachary

    Mar 22nd, 2010

    The special election in the 12th Congressional District has two candidates. One is Tim Burns, a successful private sector businessman; the other is a career staffer who has little real world economic experience. This special election is NOT a referendum on the selection process in special elections.
    This is an important election for not only the residents of the 12th congressional district, but our entire nation. Ultimately the choices in that race are very clear. Conservatives can support a conservative candidate with a clear understanding of the important economic issues that are vital to bringing back good government, or they can split their votes among multiple candidates and thereby lend help to a candidate whose economic experience is limited o ear marks and trillion dollar deficit.
    The facts are clear, Tim Burns was chosen by the conferees from all of the counties that make up the 12th Congressional District. This election is so much more important than a debate about the selection process. Those who do not appreciate the selection system are free to pursue changes if they wish, but it would be a tragedy to sacrifice a congressional seat in such a crucial time as this. The conservatives of the 12th District finally have an real opportunity to vote for a conservative who shares their views on jobs, fiscal responsibility, and repealing the monstrosity of a health care bill which has just passed the house, and now is not the time to be divided.

  14. Jerry P., PA

    Mar 23rd, 2010

    The idea going around that Bill Russell should start a write-in campaign is great idea. Russell was successful before. The people of the 12th need a candidate like Russell that can stand on his own. Not Tim Burns who is a puppet of Gleason. Gleason choose Burns because he was a loser and he could be manipulated. Gleason must be a Democrat choosing a loser like Burns rather than a winner like Russell.

  15. EBW

    Mar 23rd, 2010

    This is pretty sad that the GOP can’t unify behind a single candidate and make a legitimate run at a seat that really should be ours. Murtha was not a good Congressman by any stretch as we can look to the loads of money that stream into his district to fund pointless projects. I don’t need to mention the airport in Johnstown or any of the other projects here as we’re all aware of them, but all Mr. Russell does here is set up the possibility for a split vote, which could give the seat right back to the Dems who don’t deserve it anyway. It appears that Russell is going to try to complain his way into something, which does nobody any good. Let’s not resort to calling party leaders closet Democrats either, because he was chosen by processes that incorporate the counties and local areas. If the GOP chose Burns for the seat, then I’m sure as hell not going to split the vote just because someone is suspicious that Chairman Gleason is a Democrat and he backroomed a guy into an election which hasn’t even taken place yet. Burns in the 12th.

  16. Jerry P., PA

    Mar 23rd, 2010

    Gleason admitted in a recent Washington Independent article that he doesn’t care about winning the congressional seat when he chastised Mr. Russell for running too hard in 2008. Mr. Gleason whined, “I lost a state legislature race in 2008 because Russell was surging in the polls and Murtha turned out his forces to come out for the Democrats.”

  17. Right Wing Guy

    Mar 24th, 2010

    I thought Russell was a classy guy. But seeing this “write himself in” stuff is just too much. I’m sorry but that’s not being a team player. I don’t have any more time for Bill Russell or his ego.

  18. Jerry P., PA

    Mar 24th, 2010

    Tuesday evening I attended a defense industry seminar in Johnstown. Also, in attendance was the campaign manager for Tim Burns accompanied by what looked like three frat boys. One was toting a camcorder. I as a life long Republican was aghast at what I saw. This was nothing more than a bungled amateur Watergate style covert ops sanctioned by Burns.

    Burns, if you really wanted to know what was going on at the seminar you should have asked your boss Gleason. After all Gleason is the insurance broker for most of the defense industry in Johnstown. What will Gleason do with LAM – Life After Murtha.

    Bill Russell is a professional and understands the needs of the Johnstown defense industry. Russell would not have embarrassed the Republican Party as Burns’ amateurs have.

  19. […] election ballot) on May 18th via a massive groundswell of grassroots support.  Not only will he write down his own name for the PA-12 special election, but as Russell has done in the past, he will also encourage his […]

  20. […] from the Democratic primary to succeed John Murtha. On his right, fellow Republican Bill Russell continues to fortify his position as the definitive political outsider, ready at a moment’s notice to attack Burns and the state GOP for supposed backroom deals and […]

  21. […] from the Democratic primary to succeed John Murtha. On his right, fellow Republican Bill Russell continues to fortify his position as the definitive political outsider [1], ready at a moment’s notice to attack Burns and the state GOP for supposed backroom deals and […]

  22. JayJay

    Apr 20th, 2010

    Russell may or may not have been the best for the job, fact is he did not get the party nod and that is important. How many successful write in candidates have there been? What he will do by writing himself in is effectively vote for Critz. Split the Republican vote and give the seat to Critz. Is that really what he wants or any of the voters there want?

  23. […] Russell’s advice on voting in that election has been coy and evolving.  At first he said he’d write himself in.  Then he “supported” but did not “endorse” Burns over Critz.  This […]

Leave a Reply

- will not be published