Editor’s Note: This is a two-part series on Brookville native Cris Dush and his decision to run for the Senate.
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BROOKVILLE — State Rep. Cris Dush, a Brookville native, has thrown his hat in the ring to fill the vacancy that will be left with the retirement of Sen. Joseph Scarnati at the end of the year.
Dush recently sat down with the Jeffersonian Democrat to talk about that decision and his goals for the future.
He had been in the race for state Auditor General but recently bowed out of that race.
“Honestly, I told the senator (Scarnati) last year that I was interested in his seat but I wasn’t going to run against him. He indicated back in I think it was October time frame that he wasn’t certain yet. Then in December I asked him again right at the end of the month and he said that he was running. So I figured since I’ve term limited myself I was done, I was going to be out and find something else.
“One of my colleagues, Frank Ryan down in the legislature, he had said, ‘Chris we really don’t want you to go. But why don’t you take a look at the Auditor General race because it’s right in your alley wheelhouse... I told him I’d look at it I said but I really didn’t have an interest really at the time.
“But then as I looked at it, the more I thought, well, with the stuff we were doing with uncovering the hidden special funds and the $34 billion that the governor had spent during my first budget impasse, ‘Yeah, you know what, I can do this.’ So I threw my hat in that ring and then I started getting some inklings that the senator was going to hang it up. I was hearing things down in Harrisburg and I was hearing things up here. I had friends and family that are over in the DuBois area that know Herm (Suplizio) and the indications were that the senater was getting out,” Dush said.
“So I asked him (Scarnati), and he had said, ‘Well there’s about a 5 percent chance that I’m not going to run,” Dush said that for him, that answer “kind of read, ‘All right, he’s not going to run.’”
It was then that Dush began to get things prepared in case he would need to move quickly.
“We did have a couple petitions circulating just in case I wanted to have a couple hundred (signatures) on the record – and we did.”
Dush said he waited a little bit longer and then he heard that former DuBois Mayor John “Herm” Suplizio was going to be announcing his bid for the Senate seat in Elk County. “I went up to that Elk County meeting – kind of surprised them, I think. I was there when Herm was introduced as Scarnati’s replacement. So I immediately texted a couple people that I know knew Joe and said, ‘What happened?. They indicated that they were surprised and they’d get back to me. Then I found out he definitely wasn’t running so I got it out there and I put it out I’m going to need some help I’ve only got about six days here to get 500 signatures. I was literally on Saturday as I was going around collecting (signatures) and getting phone calls from people, I had to pull off to the side of the road a couple times because the stories people were calling me up and telling me about what they were experiencing out there, I was starting to tear up, and I couldn’t drive. It was a blessing.”
Dush turned in 2,662 signatures in those few days and says that about another 115 or so signatures came in after the deadline and so couldn’t be used.
“It was an amazing experience,” he said.
So we asked Dush if his experience in the House of Representatives would help him in the Senate, since that is a separate, yet equal part of the General Assembly.
“Well, I know the legislative process, number one, and I’m familiar with the people who are basically the influencers in both houses than the House and the Senate. I’ve also got a working relationship with a number of people in organizations, the more central regional development, folks. I’ve had a remarkable time with them over the last five years. And one of the things I’ve been able to do in area where they stand out among the whole state is Ed mats. He works for them and he does their IT infrastructure in their rural broadband. He has been doing things cheaply but not on the cheap. And he’s getting broadband in the scenarios that nobody would expect. And the acting director for the governor’s rural broadband initiative have been actively pushing Ed’s information out and more Central’s. And when we had a hearing down in Indiana County. I brought him up and he was I actually arranged for him to be one of the testifiers and we made him clean up after the three panels. But she had indicated that I wish I could clone, and mats, because he is so effective at what he does. We were able to secure some funding for him to do some pilot projects that would act as models for around the state. And those are the kinds of things that I want to bring to Harrisburg because we have so many people up here that out of necessity, have been doing so much with so little for so long. They can do practically anything with nothing. Yeah, I want to take that, that down to Harrisburg and have them start working. That kind of to get that kind of mindset and mindset, you know, get quality work done but do it on a good budget. If we’re taking money from people. We need to make sure that we’re doing, most effective by not taking more than we need.