Last evening I watched the Q&A session sponsored by Philadelphia’s Neighborhood Networks. Attending were Joe Hoeffel, Jack Wagner, Dan Onorato and Republican Sam Rohrer. Tom Corbett and Anthony Williams didn’t attend. Watching Rep. Rohrer take questions from a decidedly liberal audience was interesting. He danced very carefully around questions with his omissions as meaningful as his responses. When Audrey Ross of Planned Parenthood asked about access to family planning and birth control the virulently anti-choice evangelical dodged it nicely without revealing his true position.
Jack Wagner was bold enough to say he is pro life and anti-gay. Dan Onorato also said he against same sex marriage. Joe Hoeffel was the only pro-choice, pro-equality candidate on the stage. I don’t understand how progressives can support Mr. Wagner. His positions are directly out of the 19th century. His response to a question about federal funding of AIDS programs was to pledge to audit it. A late question about relegating juveniles to the adult corrections system completely went over his head. He listened as the panelists patiently repeated it for him three times. He still had no idea of the issue they were presenting. Duh??? Wagner came off very badly.
Rohrer’s presence at this forum was puzzling. He says often he doesn’t believe government should serve any purpose outside providing for the common defense. He kept repeating his mantra of lower taxes except for sales taxes which he would raise. Interestingly these fall disproportionatley on the poor and this audience reflected many concerns of the urban poor. Many of the questions had to do with social services of which Rohrer opposes on a deep ideological level.
Joe Hoeffel had good answers and Dan Onorato looked good on several. I just don’t trust Onorato. If he and Corbett are the nominees I’ll be voting Green in November as I will if the top of the ticket is Specter/Toomey. Democrats cannot keep expecting liberals and progressives in Pennsylvania to continue voting Democratic when they keep giving us reactionary candidates. If the Pennsylvania Green Party were better organized and hid their tin foil hat members they might get competitive. The opportunity is certainly here.