Bryan Tate
Bryan Tate

SEE ALSO: York County Dems investigate anti-gay comments in their ranks

A former state representative and one of York County's most well-known Republicans is no longer affiliated with the party, having resigned months ago because he was opposed to nominating an openly gay candidate for a seat in a vacant House district.

York County Republican Party Chairman Bob Wilson said party insiders later discovered A. Carville "Peck" Foster Jr., 80, was "actively campaigning against" York City resident Bryan Tate because of Tate's sexual orientation.

Tate on Tuesday lost his bid for office to Kevin Schreiber, the Democrat to whom Foster was directing Republican voters despite Schreiber's support of gay rights - which included an endorsement from gay rights group Equality Pa.

Foster...longtime Republican resigned after Tate’s nomination.
Foster...longtime Republican resigned after Tate's nomination.

Foster represented York's 93rd House District from 1973 to 1992 and was Wilson's predecessor as party chair, serving six years before he left the position in 2011. He remained a committee member and continued to serve as chairman emeritus until early this year.

Resigned: Foster resigned his posts when Wilson announced the January date for the committee nomination for the 95th, a meeting at which Tate was given a unanimous nod as the party nominee, Wilson said.

"At this point in time, Mr. Foster is no longer affiliated with the Republican Party," Wilson said Thursday night. "Mr. Foster and I have had discussions about Bryan Tate. ... I assured Mr. Foster that the process of a unanimous vote was the doing of Republicans from the district who wanted Bryan Tate to be the next representative of the 95th District. I'm deeply saddened by Mr. Foster's actively campaigning against the Republican nominee in the 95th and I'm moreso saddened by Mr. Foster's bigoted views."

Foster, who lives outside the 95th in Seven Valleys, "had discussions" with voters to sway them from voting for Tate, Wilson said.

Foster didn't return calls to his cellphone. A woman who answered the phone at his home said he was on vacation.

Wilson said Tate, who previously served as chief of staff for retired U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, enjoyed "tremendous support" in the district, the county and the state.

"The party's position is that we will support qualified candidates in any office that they seek," he said. "Qualified Republican candidates ... that would be Bryan."

He said the Republican Party is a "large tent," accepting people of many viewpoints.

"Our party welcomes anyone who believes in fiscal stewardship, limited government, and individual freedoms," he said. "And we will welcome you with open arms."

'Disappointed': Tate said he knew Foster from his years with the Republican Party, but the two weren't friends.

"I'm disappointed that anybody would do that, and I'm glad that the Republican Party that nominated me won't stand for that. That certainly makes me feel like I'm a valued part of the community."

When asked about his reaction to sabotage from within his own party, Tate deflected to address allegations that Democrats used anti-gay sentiments to sway voters against him.

"Maybe Peck was working against me, but the Republican party took action," he said. "The Republican Party didn't stand for that. However, the Democratic Party chose inaction. I think there's a huge difference."

Bob Kefauver, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County, said the party is still gathering information about the allegations and will be "handling them internally over the course of the next few days."

One legislator's reaction: Foster was well-known within Republican circles, and at least one state legislator said the circumstances surrounding the resignation tarnish his legacy.

"He was definitely an old-school conservative," said state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover. "He was always involved in and loved the party. He has a great legacy and cared about York County for a long time and it's a real shame to hear about what's going on, a real shame for his legacy and his career."

"Unfortunately, Peck just ... I don't know if he's just getting up in age or what's really going on with him ... actively helping Kevin (Schreiber)."

Grove said he has been Tate's friend "for a long time."

"Great guy, hard worker," Grove said. "I fully supported his campaign for state rep."

- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.