Saturday, May 07, 2005

Fontana, Diven trading punches (again squared) -- This is about Choice

Fontana, Diven trading punches Diven said he'd 'originally hoped the race could be run in a positive manner, but they went negative on me three weeks ago with a mailer and a TV ad. They threw the first punch and I had no choice but to respond.''

These guys are the ones who are all about a LACK OF CHOICE.

Both of my opponents are staunch PRO-LIFERS. They are not freinds to choice.

Both of my old-party opponents don't want the public to see a choice in terms of the full spectrum on the ballot. Both of my opponents have a willingness to debate without me.

These guys are not fit to be a state senator.

I would never go to a debate knowing that my ballot certified opponent was excluded. I can't stand for discrimination, intentional discrimination, institutional discrimination.

I say, "Think again." We need choices. We don't need senators who are slaves to the wrong masters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fontana, Diven trading punches
State Senate race is costly, dirty

Saturday, May 07, 2005
By Tom Barnes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Politics often is unpredictable, but two things are certain about the state Senate race featuring Republican Michael Diven and Democrat Wayne Fontana -- it's expensive and it's nasty.

The slugfest features Diven, a Democrat-turned-Republican state representative, calling Fontana "a party hack," claiming he's to blame for Allegheny County's reassessment problems and has led "the charge to raise property taxes.''

In a political brochure mailed to voters recently, Diven said Fontana "pushed to have our property reassessed more often. ... He knows the process he presided over is failed and unfair.''

Fontana's camp says these are flat-out untruths.

"Shame on you, Michael Diven,'' County Council President Rich Fitzgerald, a Democrat, said. "Wayne had nothing to do with the court-ordered reassessment that was bungled by the last Republican administration,'' a reference to former county Chief Executive Jim Roddey.

Fontana, a former county councilman, has fired back that Diven voted three times to raise his own salary and flip-flopped on a state tax increase, voting against it and then for it.

Other Democratic officials denounce Diven as a traitor because, after a falling out with state House Democratic leaders, he left the party in February to run as a Republican for the 42nd Senate District seat, where Democrats outnumber GOP voters by about 2 to 1.

Diven, once an aide to County Commissioner Tom Foerster, then a city councilman before being elected state representative, has never had a nongovernment job, say Fontana aides.

"Mike Diven has been sucking on the public payroll udder his whole life,'' said Fontana campaign director Marty Marks, whereas Fontana was a full-time real estate agent until he got involved in politics five years ago.

Marks also attacked a Diven direct mail piece that pictures him with a woman and three young boys, who appear to be his immediate family but who aren't identified.

"It looks like he went to Rent-a-Family,'' Marks said.

Diven denied the piece is misleading, saying it shows his fiancee, Shannon Donovan (whom he'll marry in July), and his three nephews.

"They're my family,'' he said. The boys are sons of his brother Joey.

Diven added, "All my grandparents have passed away also, but I still pose for pictures with senior citizens. I don't think that's misleading.''

Diven said he'd "originally hoped the race could be run in a positive manner, but they went negative on me three weeks ago with a mailer and a TV ad. They threw the first punch and I had no choice but to respond.''

He has sent out at least a dozen direct mail pieces, some showing an unflattering photo of double-chinned Fontana looking sleepy and haggard, and another showing a photo of a stereotypical ward boss smiling with a big cigar clenched in his teeth, implying that Fontana is an old-style politician.

Fontana shot back that Diven "has tried to deceive people by calling himself an independent on his brochures,'' when he's actually a Republican.

Also coming to Fontana's aid is county Chief Executive Dan Onorato. In a mailer paid for by the Democratic State Committee, Onorato says, "Wayne Fontana's Republican opponent is making some pretty outrageous statements and charges. ... Let me set the record straight. Wayne Fontana has never, ever voted for a tax increase.''

The top Republican in the state Senate, Robert Jubelirer, of Altoona, is pushing hard for Diven, hoping to make the 42nd District the third straight GOP win and push the Republicans' majority in the Senate to 31-19.

"We think people are disgusted with the Democratic politics of the past and will vote for Mike Diven, who is a breath of fresh air,'' Jubelirer said.

Senate GOP leaders are puffed with pride after knocking off longtime Democratic Sen. Allen Kukovich, of Westmoreland County, last November and then winning a special election for an open Senate seat from eastern Pennsylvania in April.

"We like this matchup," Jubelirer said. "Wayne Fontana has been the godfather of the reassessment process. He's part of the old Democratic establishment. Polls show the two within a few percentage points of each other. It's going to be very, very close.''

It's also going to be very costly, especially in the final 10 days before the May 17 special election to fill the seat formerly held by current state Auditor General Jack Wagner.

Campaign finance reports filed yesterday show Diven raised $192,010 in cash and spent $172,644 from Jan. 1 through May 2. In addition to the cash donations, he also got nearly $114,000 in in-kind contributions -- mostly from the Republican State Committee in the form of consulting, postage or other services.

Senate Republicans have given $40,000 to Diven and state House Speaker John Perzel, a Republican from Philadelphia, chipped in $10,000.

Fontana raised $159,250 in cash and spent $147,577 but got another $194,469 in in-kind contributions, from the state Democratic Party and state Senate Democratic Campaign Committee in the form of signs, polling and advertising.

Some of his larger contributions were $50,000 from Gov. Ed Rendell; $10,000 from Onorato; $10,000 from Wagner; $9,000 from Sen. Sean Logan, D-Monroeville; $7,500 from Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills; and $5,000 from the electrical workers union.

There is a third candidate in the race, Libertarian Mark Rauterkus, a South Side neighborhood activist, who raised $3,336 and spent $3,197. He also got in-kind help of nearly $4,400.

Most of the spending by Diven and Fontana has gone for a flurry of direct mail attacks on each other and ads on cable TV, which cost $15,000 to $30,000 a week, the two camps said.

But the spending so far will be dwarfed by the spending yet to come, as both candidates switch from cable to broadcast TV attack ads. The ads on the four network stations in Pittsburgh (CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox) will cost about $150,000 a week.

Senate Republicans say Diven's final campaign budget could hit $750,000, as the GOP tries try to overcome the Democratic voter registration edge in the 42nd District.

"That number wouldn't be unrealistic," Jubelirer said.

Fontana vowed, "We won't be outspent.'' He said he's getting financial help from state Senate Democrats and other party officials.

Final campaign fund-raising and spending reports don't have to be filed until a month after the election.

(Tom Barnes can be reached at or 717-787-4254.)