CAMPAIGN 2014: Dush challenges Smith for state House
January 31, 2014 10:50 AM
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Cris Dush, who in 2012 as a political newcomer conducted a formidable challenge to 13-term incumbent and House Speaker Sam Smith, Thursday evening launched his second campaign for the Republican nomination in the 66th District.

Dush officially kicked off his 2014 primary election bid in Brookville after saying earlier in the day he intends to spend more time in this race campaigning in northern Indiana County.

[Gazette file photo]

In the 2012 primary, Dush carried Jefferson County, home turf to both candidates, and edged Smith there by about 60 votes. But the voters in the 13 municipalities in northern Indiana County that are also part of the 66th District solidly backed Smith with 689 votes compared to 213 for Dush and sealed Smith’s victory.

The 66th District includes all of Jefferson County, the eight northernmost townships in Indiana County and Redbank Township in Armstrong County.

In 2012, Dush retired earlier than planned from a career with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections so that he could be a candidate for the 66th District seat. In a similar situation, he stepped down Monday from another civil service position as chief of information protection for the Pennsylvania Air National Guard in order to again be a candidate.

Two years ago Dush described himself as “a big proponent of cutting central government and allowing the local governments to take care of things.” He continued that theme at Thursday’s campaign kickoff.

“Honesty and integrity — that’s you,” Dush told supporters. “Though much of society’s changed for the worse, you have within you the ability to resist. You don’t need a government baby sitter to tell you how to treat people. … Folks, Pennsylvania’s big cities have hired very expensive bus drivers, forced us in the buses and whether it’s SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) or the Pennsylvania legislators behind the wheel, they’re getting $100,000 a year while they’re driving us toward the cliff.”

Dush said politicians in Harrisburg get their information from career lobbyists and bureaucrats “who’ve never done or are so far removed from having done the job as to not have a clue as to how you make things work. … I know where the expertise of what makes America and your businesses or local government programs work lies. It lies in you. You, the people who are doing the work every day, will be my subject matter experts.

“You don’t need government baby sitters,” Dush continued. “You can fix things, you can make things work and you don’t need some government bureaucrat looking over your shoulder. … I will expose and fight the tendencies and the attempts of big government, big labor and big business to subject you to burdens you do not need to bear.”

Dush graduated from Brookville Area High School and attended Clarion State College (now Clarion University of Pennsylvania) until enlisting in the Air Force as a law enforcement specialist.

In 1990, he began working out of Delaware for private companies as an insurance fraud investigator in the New York to Washington, D.C., corridor.

He returned to the Brookville area in 1995 and began a career in corrections in the inmate records office of State Correctional Institution Houtzdale and later was records supervisor at SCI Chester.

He is a member of the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, in Middletown.

Smith, now serving his second term as House Speaker, began mailing campaign material to his constituents a few weeks ago and is seeking a 15th two-year term in the House.

Pennsylvania’s primary election will be May 20.

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