Sandra K. Reabuck
What a turnaround it has been for Johnstowner Robert A. “Rob” Gleason Jr. from four years ago, when he took over the helm of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party and saw the Grand Old Party suffer major election losses just a few months into his chairmanship.
It was in 2006 that Democratic incumbent Gov. Ed Rendell won a second term as he turned back a challenge by Republican Lynn Swann. That same year, two-term Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum was beaten by Democrat Bob Casey Jr. and the GOP lost four congressional seats in Pennsylvania.
Gleason, party chief in Cambria County and for the state, now is savoring the victories rolled up Tuesday by Republicans in Pennsylvania and across the country.
“We won big-time,” he said Wednesday.
Gleason pointed to Republicans Tom Corbett as governor and Pat Toomey as U.S. senator and five new U.S. representatives to give the GOP a majority of the state’s congressional delegation.
“And the icing on the cake is the state House, where we’re back in majority control,” said Gleason, who was elected state GOP chairman in June ’06. “We’re up by at least 10, with some (districts) still counting.”
Asked whether he feels vindicated, Gleason said, “Not vindicated. I’ve been working on this for some time.
“And, remember, in 2009 we won six of the seven state judges up for re-election,” he said. “So that was the first sign the Republican Party was coming alive again.”