Friday, March 10, 2006

Jon Delano -- PSF newsletter in the comments part

Jon gives a run down of those in the primary who are women candidates and challengers to state house and state senate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Politically Savvy Friends,

It's a little unusual for me to send out two PSFs in one week -- hopefully, you received my lengthy email of Monday -- but Tuesday was the filing deadline for Pennsylvania candidates and then we witnessed Wednesday's extraordinary withdrawal of a candidate. All in all, that suggests the need for a somewhat more focused PSF this morning, although permit me a comment on Washington as well. Read on, my friends.


Goodbye, Dubai:

The White House was forced to blink yesterday to a nearly unanimous Congress that was dead-set to outlaw a government-owned outfit from the United Arab Emirates from operating some port facilities, including Philadelphia, in the United States. Dubai Ports World says it will sell off its American operations to a U.S.-owned port operator, although it's unclear who that might be.

Democrats thought they had a winning political issue when they first denounced this original transaction three weeks ago, but Republicans in Congress quickly jumped on board, turning what could have been a damaging political issue into a major bipartisan confrontation with President Bush. With political lines so blurred, I doubt that anyone has really been hurt by this controversy, except perhaps the president -- and what does he care. He's not on the ballot again.

Forget the politics. The larger policy issue is why do we allow foreigners, of any kind, to maintain and operate American ports if we are truly concerned about the security of such installations. Turns out that 75 percent of containers that enter the U.S. go through foreign-operated terminals in this country. Wow! Now I am not some xenophobic know-nothing who bashes those from overseas, but I do think the Congress needs to conduct a careful review of who operates what at America's major access points. This has been a major failure of both the Bush White House and the U.S. Congress, and one hopes the Dubai Affair has opened the eyes of policy-makers on all sides.


Joe, We Hardly Knew You:

What a difference 24 hours makes! On Tuesday, former Cong. Joe Hoeffel, a suburban Philadelphian Democrat, came to Pittsburgh to announce his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor against incumbent Catherine Baker Knoll, a Pittsburgh native. Later that day, Governor Ed Rendell, in response to questions from Philadelphia reporters, opined that he hoped Hoeffel would take advantage of the 10-day withdrawal period to give up his candidacy. This was, apparently, new news to Hoeffel. Hoeffel later told me he called the guv Tuesday night for a lengthy private conversation, and then apparently gave in to pressure and appeared with the guv in Harrisburg on Wednesday morning to end his short-lived candidacy.

Hoeffel insists there was no deal and that the governor just had a "change of mind" from an earlier conversation the two Philadelphians had several weeks ago. At that time, Hoeffel says Rendell was clear about his support for CBK but, at no time, asked Hoeffel to set aside his own political desire to run. This week, the guv's spinmeisters are saying that Rendell never wanted Hoeffel to run in the first place, but that Rendell is "too nice a guy" to come out and ask someone he respects (Hoeffel) to drop out. So, instead, the guv tried to send signals that Joe just couldn't, or wouldn't, read.

Whatever. The political reality is that a Philadelphia-Philadelphia ticket would have created an issue that Rendell just didn't want to have in next November's election, especially since Republican Lynn Swann is already expected to use his Steeler roots to attract western Pennsylvanians to his candidacy.

Nobody is happier now than CBK, the 70-something grandmother and first woman elected lieutenant governor. Knoll read a brief statement in Pittsburgh, thanking Hoeffel for putting party above self, and then ad-libbed some thanks to three members of Congress, Bob Brady, Jack Murtha, and Mike Doyle, suggesting the three had intervened with Rendell on her behalf. They were probably not the only ones.

Hoeffel was a major threat to take the nomination from Knoll, who was barely nominated four years ago in a multi-candidate race. His base in Philadelphia is solid, and the rest of the state would have split. Now Knoll is the odds-on favorite to win renomination, although she does have three opponents. Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds Valerie McDonald Roberts is a highly respected Pittsburgh area official, and like Hoeffel a pro-choice progressive on most issues. Knoll is pro-life. And Roberts is African-American. On Wednesday, she told me that she offered even "more" balance than CBK because she knows government (she was elected to the Pittsburgh School Board, Pittsburgh City Council, and now County office), she is progressive, she comes from the West, and she is African American. Her biggest problem, of course, is that she lacks money.

So far, Rendell has not called on her to exit the race, and he probably won't unless he wants to piss off some black leaders. But you never know in this business.

CBK's other "major" opponent is Gene Stilp of Dauphin County. Stilp is the anti-pay raise organizer and owner of the infamous pink pig that camped outside the State Capitol until legislators repealed that controversial pay raise. Stilp told me this week that the guv shouldn't waste his time calling him because he's in the race to stay. Stilp says that had he been lieutenant governor last summer, unlike CBK, he would have brought those midnight payraise procedings to a standstill, as the presiding officer of the Senate.

It's hard to gauge whether the anti-pay raise fervor that knocked off a Supreme Court justice last November would impact a lieutenant governor's race in the Democratic Primary in May. But both Stilp and Roberts could make this under-the-radar screen race more interesting. We shall see.

General Assembly Battlefront:

Speaking of the pay raise, we can now answer the question whether anti-incumbent fervor generated new challenges to incumbents in this year's legislative races. The answer is a somewhat equivocal YES. It looks like 587 candidates filed for 203 positions in the House and 25 (one-half) in the Senate. This is the highest number of candidates in at least a decade. Of course, some will drop out or be disqualified for petition irregularities, but a number of incumbents are facing both primary and general election challenges for the first time in years.

In this region of Pennsylvania, I can identify 15 legislators who voted for the pay raise who will be challenged this year. They are (in numerical order of district) Reps. Frank LaGrotta, Mike Veon, Jake Wheatley, Don Walko, Frank Pistella, Joe Preston, Joe Markosek, Tom Petrone, Frank Dermody, Paul Costa, Ken Ruffing, John Maher, Tom Stevenson, Peter Daley, and Bill DeWeese. Four incumbents who voted for the pay raise have NO opponents: Sen. Barry Stout and Reps. Dan Frankel, Mark Mustio, and Tim Solobay.

Operation Clean Sweep tried to field candidates against every legislator, including those who voted NO to the pay raise. In this region, 12 anti-pay raise legislators have opponents, too, including Sen. Richard Kasunic and Reps. Brian Ellis, Vince Biancucci, Michael Diven, Mike Turzai, Marc Gergely, Dave Levdansky, John Pallone, Jim Casorio, Tom Tangretti, Ted Harhai, and Jess Stairs. Ten local anti-pay raise incumbents who have no challengers include Sens. Jim Ferlo, Jane Orie, Wayne Fontana and Reps. Daryl Metcalfe, Sean Ramaley, Tony DeLuca, Harry Readshaw, Nick Kotik, Joe Petrarca, and Jeff Pyle.

I suspect that most of the focus locally will be on the 15 pay raisers, especially since the House Democratic leaders, DeWeese and Veon, come from this region and face both primary and general election challengers.

I have opined before that I never vote single issue. Some of these legislators, who voted for the pay raise, are good elected officials. And some who voted against are, frankly, not so good. But the amount and manner of the pay grab so outraged people that the good may be tossed out with the bad. Voters on May 16 will make that decision.

Parenthetically, in an earlier PSF, I noted that not one of the 47 state House members from the 10-county Southwestern PA area was a woman. That's right -- all 47 are men. Turns out that the following local women filed to run for state House on Tuesday: Democrats Susan Banahasky (against Rep. Don Walko), Lisa Bennington (against Rep. Frank Pistella), Chelsa Wagner (against Rep. Michael Diven), Marilyn Messina (against Rep. Paul Costa), Deborah Kula, Judy Reed and Marigrace Butela (for the open seat of retiring Rep. Tim Shaner), Jodie Goughnour (against Rep. Ted Harhai), and Republicans Eileen Watt (against Rep. Frank Dermody) and Kathy Marks (against Rep. Jess Stairs). Will any of these women break the glass ceiling in the state House? Stay tuned.

In subsequent PSFs, I will try to zero in on some of the competitive primary battles. In you live in PA, feel free to send me any tidbits you have on your congressional and legislative battles.

That's it for this Friday morning. If you missed Monday's PSF and want it, just email me. As always, I welcome your comments (always off-the-record), and, of course, if you don't want to be a Politically Savvy Friend, let me know that, too. I don't want to be anyone's spam! Enjoy a great weekend.

As ever,

Jon Delano
Political Analyst
H. John Heinz School of Public Policy & Management
Carnegie Mellon University

[As usual, these views are my own and not those of the great organizations with whom I am privileged to be associated].