PITTSBURGH — Democrats in Pennsylvania are without a leader at the state party chair level after the blunt resignation of Marcel Groen last week.
The move left the party headless as campaigns rev up for governor, a U.S. Senate seat, Congress, and the state legislature, just two years after Donald Trump shook the party to the core with his surprise win in the Keystone State over Hillary Clinton.
Groen, who has chaired the party for three years, indicated in a letter he left at the request of Tom Wolf, the Democratic governor up for re-election this year, and the de facto head of the party.
Groen was often praised for his inclusiveness in Democratic candidates, welcoming both progressives and moderates to run in the moderate leaning state.
He recently came under fire for promising to create a party sexual harassment policy and then failing to do so. Also, one of his advisors was forced to resign after Facebook posts doubting accusations of sexual harassment.
Groen's departure comes just as the party has the wind at its back, hoping to capitalize on down ballot victories in local races in Northampton, Bucks, and Delaware counties last fall.
Democrats also stand to benefit broadly with the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruling issued last month that requires a new congressional map by Feb. 19. Democratic Gov. Wolf has veto power over the map, and a Democrat-dominated state supreme court will draw the map if the legislature and Wolf can't agree. This all but assures a Democrat-friendly map.
The process leaves challengers in a bit of a chaos as everyone is kept waiting to see how the map shakes out; with many congressional contenders having to wait to figure out whether or not they live in the district they were going to run in.
In an election year traditionally benefiting the party out of power, these two obstacles are unlikely to impact the party’s momentum — but ultimately no party wants anything to take the steam out of a fast moving movement.
Salena Zito is a columnist for the Washington Examiner.