Senate Dems vote against Montco sheriff nominee - on principle

When a governor nominates individuals to agency posts, judgeships and the like, state Senate confirmation votes are usually pro forma. Not so for Eileen Whalon Behr, whom Corbett named to fill a vacancy as Montgomery County sheriff.

All 30 Republican senators voted aye. All 20 Democrats voted no. And not because they opposed Behr. They oppposed the fact she is still a candidate in the sheriff’s race.

A long-accepted protocol in Harrisburg is for interim nominees to agree not to run for a full term, because as the incumbent, they’d get a leg up on other candidates.

In February, Corbett’s own nominee to fill his job as Attorney General - Linda Kelly - not to run in the 2012 race.

Erik Arneson, a spokesman for the Senate GOP, says he believes the arrangement only applies to nominees to fill vacancies in statewide offices and those requiring a two-thirds vote - such as county judges.

“I do not recall a similar agreement being applied to county row offices such as sheriff, prothonotary, recorder of deeds,” he said in an email.

But Senate Democrats say their vote against Behr was done so on principle.

They said they feel their Republican counterparts would have torpedoed any nominee offered up by Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell who did not agree to those terms.

“I don’t know why it doesn’t apply here,” said Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery). “They should be consistent.You can’t have it one way for one governor and another way for another governor.”

A review of a list of other Corbett nominees to fill county vacancies announced along with Behr found at least four picks who are also candidates for their respective offices.


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