- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s Republican Party will feature Donald Trump as the guest at a New York City fundraiser, but it is not necessarily an endorsement from the party elite.

The billionaire real-estate mogul and presidential candidate is doing well in polling and the party’s donors would like to hear from him at the $1,000-a-head Commonwealth Club luncheon Dec. 11, Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Rob Gleason said. The invitation is not an endorsement by the state party, Gleason said, but it could encourage more than 300 to show up at the Plaza Hotel event.

“He’s high in the polls. We think our donor base would like to hear from him,” state Republican chairman Rob Gleason told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Beforehand, Trump will appear at a $2,500-a-person VIP photo reception.

It’s one of the many festivities surrounding the annual Pennsylvania Society dinner that typically draws thousands from the state’s political and business establishments. Last year’s keynote speaker was former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the year before that was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of Trump’s rivals for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.



Jim Roddey, chairman of the Allegheny County GOP, said he does not support Trump.

“I don’t think he’s qualified,” Roddey told the Post-Gazette. “I think people, in the final analysis, will realize he doesn’t have the skills, the background and the experience he needs to be president.”

Still, Roddey told the Tribune-Review of Pittsburgh, “he’s colorful and a lot of people will come just to hear him talk, even if they anticipate he might say something crazy.”

Pennsylvania’s primary election is April 26.

The party said it will spend the proceeds to help re-elect U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and to increase the party’s members in Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation and the state Legislature.

One of the Democrats running to challenge Toomey in next year’s election responded by making Trump’s invitation the basis for a fundraising appeal.

In an email missive Monday, Katie McGinty’s campaign said Trump “has spent the last six months insulting women and minorities” and that Republicans are worried after Democrats swept five statewide judicial elections in last month’s election.

“It’s clear what’s going on here - the GOP saw the incredible victories we won last month, decisively winning races from top to bottom, and now they’re running scared,” the McGinty campaign wrote. “So scared, in fact, that the only place they can think of to run to is Donald Trump.”

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