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30 years after bitter election Kostmayer and Greenwood unite at Bucks reunion


They traded jokes and compliments. They shared memories. They were as polite to one another as they could be. And mostly, they found themselves in agreement on many of the issues facing Americans today.

In short, they were not the Peter Kostmayer and James Greenwood I knew when, as a journalist, I covered their campaigns for Congress in 1992. At the time, Kostmayer was a seven-term Democratic incumbent while Greenwood was a veteran Republican state legislator. The election of 1992 proved to be a hard-fought and expensive campaign for Bucks County’s seat in the U.S. House. When it was over, Greenwood prevailed, beating Kostmayer by nearly 16,000 votes.

Greenwood would go on to serve 12 years in the House while Kostmayer eventually moved to New York City where before his recent retirement he spent several years heading an organization that provides microgrants to individuals and groups that help improve the city’s neighborhoods. Greenwood, who continues to live in Bucks County, has also recently retired as head of a trade group representing the nation’s biotechnology companies.

On the evening of May 18, Greenwood and Kostmayer sat down together in the community room of the Free Library of Northampton Township in Richboro. It was the first time the two former rivals were in each other’s company since that 1992 campaign – 30 years ago. They were invited to participate in a question-and-answer forum that was organized by former Bucks County commissioner Andy Warren and me, authors of the book “Notes on Bucks County: Reflections on Politics in Pennsylvania’s Most Curious and Captivating Collar County.” Our book includes a chapter on the 1992 campaign, which we titled “The Kostmayer-Greenwood War.”

As the reporter assigned to cover the campaign by my newspaper, the Allentown Morning Call, I recall vividly the hard feelings that surrounded the two candidates for much of the year. As our chapter reports, both candidates spent much of the year fearing they would lose the election, which undoubtedly helped fuel the sense of angst that hung over their campaigns for months.

Well, in the wake of their May 18 reunion, I can report that the war is over. Seeing Kostmayer and Greenwood sit side by side, laughing at each other’s jokes, nodding their heads as each recalled the ups and downs of that tumultuous year, one could certainly come away with the feeling that as divisive and ill-tempered as that year may have been, compared to the ruthlessness that is common in today’s political world, the “Kostmayer-Greenwood War” would today be more akin to a couple of toddlers kicking sand at one another at the beach.

“I viewed Peter as a very formidable opponent,” Greenwood said. “It’s probably why I didn’t run against him any sooner than I did.” Responded Kostmayer, “You cleaned my clock. You won by 16,000 votes. It was substantial. It wasn’t a close race.”

Our May 18 forum was attended by about 50 residents of Bucks County who quickly learned that Kostmayer and Greenwood preferred to dwell little on their 1992 contest. Rather, the two former members of Congress quickly fast-forwarded to today’s political climate, most likely because our forum was scheduled on the day following the Pennsylvania primary – an election that saw state Sen. Doug Mastriano capture the GOP nomination for governor while Attorney General Josh Shapiro was nominated by the Democratic Party in the gubernatorial race. Meanwhile, Lieut. Gov. John Fetterman earned the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate while Republicans Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick found themselves locked in a too-close-to-call race for the GOP nomination for the Senate. (A winner has yet to be declared.)

It didn’t take long for Greenwood and Kostmayer to turn their wrath toward Mastriano, an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump. Across Pennsylvania, many political leaders have similarly expressed a sense of fear toward the notion of Mastriano taking the oath as governor next January. “Mastriano is a dangerous guy,” said Greenwood. “He is one of the worst deniers of the Biden election. He was in Washington, at the Capitol on Jan. 6. He took buses of people down there and tried everything humanly possible to try to reverse this election. Don’t worry so much about that – worry about what he would do as governor to make sure that in the next election he will make certain that a Republican candidate will win if the candidate is anywhere within reach. He is a dangerous guy. I think the Republicans shot themselves in the head when they nominated this guy.”

Said Kostmayer: “I read that he was at a rally and people at the rally participated in something they called the ‘laying on of hands’—at a political rally. This is not about politics, this is about politics and the intersection of religion and politics, and that is a very dangerous place to be. They are saying you are either with God or you are with Satan, and that is very, very dangerous.” (The laying on of hands is a form of prayer, often practiced by evangelical Christians, who place their hands upon an individual while they pray for him or her.)

As for the U.S. Senate race, both candidates expressed dismay at the ultimate nominations of either Oz or McCormick. “Whether it is Oz or McCormick, each of them have turned themselves into people they are not,” said Greenwood, who added that he had hoped McCormick would have campaigned not on his support for gun ownership or his opposition to abortion rights, but rather on his business expertise, military service and leadership skills. “A guy like McCormick is smart, but if you see his commercials he walks around with a gun. He is trying to get as close to Trump and as far to the right as he possibly could. That is destructive to the soul and it tells you that if you are willing to do that to win an election what else are you willing to do to win the next election?” said Greenwood. “The same is true of Oz. Even McCormick pointed out all the ways he has taken somewhat liberal positions over time. But he’s a phony. He’s an actor. He has no business being in the United States Senate.”

Kostmayer agreed with Greenwood’s opinions on both Oz and McCormick, but expressed some doubt about whether Fetterman is the best candidate to take on the eventual Republican nominee. Kostmayer supported U.S. Rep. Connor Lamb in the primary, but the House member from western Pennsylvania lost to Fetterman by nearly 400,000 votes. Given Fetterman’s far-left positions on many issues, Kostmayer said, “I don’t know if he could win or not.” Added Greenwood, “The interesting thing about Fetterman is he is so odd-looking. He is 6-foot-9. He has the goatee thing. He wears hoodies; he doesn’t smile. In the state Senate—where he is president pro-tem — not one Democratic state senator endorsed him. The reason is not because they didn’t like him — he never asked them to; he never says hello. He doesn’t have any friends.”

Kostmayer was quick to add, though, that unlike Oz and McCormick, Fetterman is “authentic.” “He has a great line,’ Kostmayer says. “He says, ‘Do you think the guys in the suits have done such a great job?’”

And so it went as the two former rivals spent more than an hour airing their ideas on politics, past and present. There is no question they found themselves more in agreement on many issues than would have been true 30 years ago when they were involved in that very crucial contest for Congress in Bucks County. But as the saying goes, time heals all wounds. In this case, though, one is left to wonder whether there were any real wounds there in the first place.

You can learn more about our book, “Notes on Bucks County,” at The PCN TV network filmed the Kostmayer-Greenwood forum and plans to air the event 7 p.m. June 1. PCN can be found on Comcast Xfinity at channels 186 and 1127, and on Verizon FIOS at channel 9. The Kostmayer-Greenwood forum is the first of two public events we are planning to probe chapters in Bucks County’s political history. Later this year, we are planning a forum on the Point Pleasant water project, perhaps the most divisive issue in the county’s political history. We hope to release more information on the Point Pleasant forum in the coming weeks. Check back at our website for more information.

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