Hopkins’ Charisma, Integrity Crushes DeWeeseEdit


Greg Hopkins, Republican candidate to represent the 50th District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, faced 30-year incumbent Bill DeWeese Monday, Oct. 9, in the Waynesburg High School Auditorium.

The bipartisan open-forum was sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Each candidate was given time for an opening and closing statement and 90 seconds to answer questions created by audience members.

A crowd of approximately 150 watched in anticipation as Hopkins and DeWeese took their seats.

DeWeese began his opening statements rattling about sewage lines, water lines and relationships with township supervisors and volunteer fire companies. A silent crowd looked to Hopkins, not knowing what to expect from the political newcomer.

Hopkins retorted with an opening statement that brought the crowd to laughter then shocked silence at his blunt honesty.

“Thirty years in the state House and Greene County is the third poorest county in Pennsylvania," he said. "It is the same political diarrhea we have been listening to for years and years."

DeWeese responded by blaming the Republicans for Greene County’s economic status, lack of tort reform and lack of lobbying disclosure laws. However, he was adamant that he receive credit for his contributions to the recent property tax refunds.

“When something negative happens in Harrisburg, my opponent says it is the Republicans’ fault,” Hopkins said, following the debate. “When something good happens, my opponent takes full credit.”

Following the Federal Government oriented question about the War in Iraq, Hopkins honored Nineveh native Matthew Hildreth, who was in attendance, for his two tours of duty, serving twice in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Hopkins’ words brought the crowd to standing applause.

DeWeese replied by criticizing President George W. Bush, a tactic often unpopular in rural America.

When asked about the one gun per month law, Hopkins answered that further gun control legislation is not necessary. Gun control will happen, if the Commonwealth’s laws are enforced, he said. The NRA awarded Hopkins with an A rating, the highest rating a first time candidate can receive. Hopkins concluded his answer by questioning DeWeese’s contributions to politicians supporting antigun laws.

The mediator asked each candidate how to foster economic growth in the 50th District. Hopkins said that economic growth will happen for two reasons: one, legislative reform, two, tax reform.

DeWeese refused to acknowledge the need for legislative reform, a platform that his Democratic leader Gov. Ed Rendell supports. The incumbent continued to play on his 30-year promise that “economic growth is just around the corner.”

Hopkins’ moral code, calm composure and honest charisma captivated the audience.

“I really sensed a man of integrity,” said Cristy Wise, of Waynesburg, following the forum. “I just think he has a lot to offer. I’m just excited about a new change, and that’s what I hear from him.”

Wise was not alone in her assessment of the forum.

Garnet Throckmorton, also of Waynesburg, attended the forum to hear Hopkins speak for the first time.

“DeWeese thinks he won, but this was my feeling,” she said. “I don’t like that Bill DeWeese was the polished politician that he is, and Greg came off as the new man trying to make a difference. I think what we want, is someone who will make a difference.”

While traveling door to door, Hopkins encountered voters who, following the forum, have decided to lend their support on Nov. 7.

“People have said they didn’t know what I was about, but after the debate, they have no question,” Hopkins said.

The Herald Standard Television (HSTV) invited Hopkins to discuss the issues affecting the 50th District. The event will be filmed Wednesday, Oct. 18. DeWeese was invited to attend, but following the results of the forum, refused. Hopkins will participate without his opponent.

“I thought [Hopkins] did a great, wonderful job up against someone who has been in office for 30 years,” Wise said. “It’s time to make some changes, instead of waiting until election time, like DeWeese.”

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