Governor Gerlach?

Congressman Jim Gerlach launched a major trial balloon yesterday saying he’s considering a run for Governor.  The GOP field for the open seat in 2010 is as wide open as the Democratic side with numerous candidates lining up on each side.  Gerlach has won four close races for Congress after serving in the State Senate.   He would be a major opponent for Patrick Meehan but also would split the southeastern Pennsylvania vote.  Running for Governor would also mean giving up his Congressional seat.

Gerlach is a no holds, dirty campaign type who creatively invents things about his opponents.  It might be fun to see how Meehan, a formidable prosecutor, would respond to Gerlach’s tactics.  This could be fun to watch.

Special Senate Election Tuesday

Believe it or not the election isn’t over…yet.  Tuesday there’s a runoff election for the Georgia Senate seat.  Incumbent Saxby Shameless is trying to win his second term after smearing Vietnam war hero Max Cleland as a traitor.  It wouldn’t have been nearly as toxic a charge if Cleland hadn’t left two legs and one and a half arms on the battlefield.

I met Sen. Cleland several times and he’s an amazingly classy guy.  This one is for Max.  Jim Martin is running against Chambliss and because of a third party candidate November 4th neither candidate garnered 50% plus one in the election so a runoff is being conducted Tuesday.  This time Martin may not benefit from the huge Black turnout on November 4th so he needs help.

You can help by getting involved in the phone bank system used by the Obama campaign and now converted for this election.  This means you can make phone calls to Georgia voters from anywhere to remind them to vote.

About Jim Martin:

I need your help. We’re in a runoff for the 59th (or 60th?) Senate seat. This is a race we can win. Not only that, but Jim Martin is a candidate Democrats across the country could be proud to see as a Senator. He started his career as a legal aid lawyer, fighting for poor, working class and disabled Georgians. He served with distinction in the Georgia House of Representatives, where he rose to become Chair of the Judiciary Committee. He left the state house so that he could serve as the Director of the Department of Human Resources and worked tirelessly to protect the most at risk children in Georgia.

House GOP Misused Legislative Database For Campaigns

The BonusGate grand jury is hearing testimony that the Republican House Caucus used a database for political purposes.  Leaks continue to envelop this grand jury as information continues leaking about its activities.  Someone needs to tell Tom Corbett he won the election and doesn’t need to continue this questionable activity.

John Perzel signed a contract when Speaker to develop the database at taxpayer expense and then used it to data mine for campaigns.  That is illegal.  Republicans used BonusGate to indict numerous Democrats running for re-election even though they weren’t involved in wrongdoing while ignoring the fact their own Speaker did use taxpayer paid resources for partisan political campaigns.  They still lost seats this fall however.

2009: Looking Forward

Now that this year’s election is finished (except for some seats outside PA) it’s time to look at 2009.  Odd year elections in Pennsylvania are primarily local and county affairs.  2009 brings us several court races and a special election to replace the deceased Sen. Jim Rhoades.  The Schuylkill County Republican died after an auto accident October 18th, too late to be replaced on the ballot.

Superior Court Judge Jack A. Panella will run for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court vacancy and Anne Lazarus and John Milton Younge are running for Superior Court.  I haven’t met anyone as yet for the Commonwealth Court vacancy.  Lazarus and Younge both ran for Superior Court as part of a largely impressive field in 2007 and are very good Judges with impressive resumes.

Congressional Update: Kilroy Needs Your Aid

Congressional races continue being decided as close elections are winding down with the counting of absentee and provisional ballots.  It appears some will go to recounts.  The Minnesota Senate race is very close and seems to be headed that way.  Meanwhile the Maryland 1st District race went to Democrat Frank Kratovil Jr.  This is the Eastern Shore folks, long the only Republican stronghold in Maryland.

Mary Jo Kilroy’s race in Ohio is very, very close.  The DCCC says she is but 149 votes behind.  This would be the 25th pickup for Democrats if she wins.  Kilroy needs tour help to take the seat however.  The cost of a recount and legal fees are steep. Staff fees to keep people working in the campaign office are another consideration.  Not everyone can afford to work for free.  

If you can be of assistance with $10, $25, $50 or $100 we can count every ballot in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.  Contribute here.

The Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation

I drew a deep sigh of relief when Paul Kanjorski beat Lou Barletta.  This race kept me on the edge of my seat until returns showed a gradual pulling ahead and it was finally called.  In this dangerous economy we need Kanjo’s experience and leadership in Washington versus Barlett’s bloodletting hate bashing of people of color.

The fact our Class of 2006 did so well was encouraging.  The quartet of Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak, Chris Carney and Jason Altmire rolled to impressive victories.  The biggest of those was Carney considering the demographics of his district.  Now we await decisions by Murphy and Sestak on the 2010 U.S. Senate race.  Along with Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz this could be a barn burner of a primary.  My concern there are three very good candidates, three very good Members of Congress, all of whom may have to abandon their seats for a Senate race.  Someone needs to step in and work this out for the Democratic Party.

The defeat of Phil English in the 5th CD has me overjoyed.  If it had been Mike Waltner I’d be driving to Erie to dance a jig.  Kathy Dahlkemper is a conservative, anti choice Democrat so I didn’t support her much in the general election nor did she seek my support.  Hers was the only significant Democratic race in Pennsylvania which did not ask for my assistance.

My Congressman, a man who seems to hate me, Tim Holden, won against a woman who ran an invisible race.  Toni Gilhooley only existed on the yeard signs along major highways.  Did anyone actually ever see her?  Does she really exist?

The Congressional races in Pennsyltucky ran according to script.  Pitts, Platts and Shuster all won handily.  Bruce Slater ran a good campaign but we’ll never win the 16th until Lancaster County is split up through redistricting.  The north central section of the state, the heart of the “T,” all fifteen counties, again went reliably Republican.  John Peterson retired and this contest was settled in the GOP primary last spring.

As always I look forward to working with the delegation through their Washington offices on areas where we share common ground.  There is a ton of work to do and the obstructionist Senate Republicans can still filibuster all legislation.  The risk in doing so will be more voter backlash in 2010 and make people like Arlen Specter endangered species.  He already is a lone voice crying in the wilderness of Republican moderates and his re-election in 2010 will be threatened with continued filibusters.  The GOP continues with this strategy at their peril.  Severe peril.  The people want progress, not obstructionism and if we go into 2010 with 94 more filibusters no Republican Senate seat will be safe.

State House

With 201 seats up for grabs tonight I’m going to discuss the ones which caught my attention this fall.  I know many of these Representatives and/or candidates personally and some of the losses are felt personally.  Good people…

Bill DeWeese survives to remain in Harrisburg pending a possible indictment.  Brad Kirsch who stood up for real integrity lost his battle in Bucks County.  Chris King there is also in a battle.  Steve Santasiero though appears to have a new seat in Harrisburg.  Diane Allison, another candidate for whom I gained enormous respect, lost her race against Margurite “The Dog Napper” Quinn.

Jesse White who writes a highly entertaining and good blog, has won re-election.  Now I can look forward to many more good blog posts about what goes on in the House.  Keep up the good work Jesse.

John Woodward lost narrowly to incumbent Sam “The Crazy Fundie” Rohrer.  Perhaos if he’d had time to knock on doors this popular cafe owner would have a new profession.  Mr. Rohrer is now vulnerable for the first time in his political life.  Dave Kessler won re-election in the 130th (my District) along with Tim Seip.  I have yet to see final results from the 187th (Ritter/Day).

Tim Briggs has succeeded Sen. Leach and it appears Rick Taylor will squeak through.  Frank Custer is trailing Kate Harper awaiting final tallies.  Right now with 97% in it is Harper 18,572-Custer 14,471.  It’s hard to believe these people have re-elected someone who puts them second.  Sometimes people get what they deserve.

My dear friend Barbara McIlvaine Smith is, again, in a very close race in West Chester.

Kanjorski Survives

It does appear that Barack Obama’s strong campaign organization aided many other candidates.  Row office candidates are running strongly and it now appears that Congressman Paul Kanjorski has held his seat.

Patrick Murphy, Joe Sestak, Jason Altmire, Chris Carney and, it appears Kathy Dahlkemper in the Third CD (Erie) have also won.  Even Joe Pitts is getting a run for his money in the 16th.  It appears Jim Gerlach and Charlie Dent will win along with safe seats in the 5th, 9th, 18th and 19th have won for the GOP.

Update:  The 15th has now been called for Dent.

Barletta Calls For Regressive Flat Tax

Lou Barletta embraced the fringe flat tax plan in the Scranton Times Tribune.  A flat tax requires every person to pay the same, identical flat rate of income tax.  It provides for no deductions, credits, or variables.  Kiss your mortgage interest deduction good bye along with that deduction for local taxes.

Taxes are used to reward good behavior (buying a fuel efficient car for example) or punish bad (polluters forced to pay for their handiwork).  The wealthier people are the more is expected of them to contribute to society.  We generally exempt the poor.

Lou Barletta says the minimum wage worker making $7.15/hour should pay the same rate as a corporate CEO earning $20 million a year.  How soon Republicans threw aside their convention mantra of “to whom much is given much is required.”  Pure rhetoric designed to hide their real agenda:  shift the tax burden to working people.

Incumbent Congressman Paul Kanjorksi criticized Barletta’s policy plan:

“How can Republicans like Lou Barletta ask middle class, Northeastern Pennsylvanians to take a hit on their home values so the wealthy can get a tax cut?” asked Congressman Paul E. Kanjorski. “Barletta, like fellow Republicans Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback and Steve Forbes, love the flat tax. It is another way Republicans try to package a tax cut for the wealthy and sell it as something that’s good for everyone. But just like George W. Bush did when he pushed his tax breaks, Barletta and these Republicans don’t tell you how the middle class pays for this upper class tax break.”

“Part of the idea with the flat tax is it brings to an end the practice of tax credits for your home, charitable contributions and healthcare. You can’t have it both ways. Right now, Lou Barletta either has no tax policy or no way to pay for healthcare.”

“At a time when we should be creating incentives for people to save and protecting the value of their homes, this plan would kill it. Between his plans to privatize Social Security and support for a flat tax, I don’t know how anyone would ever be able to retire in Lou Barletta’s America.”

Newsweek Calls Barletta on False Ad

Newsweek has exposed Lou Barletta’s ad portraying Paul Kanjorski as responsible for the financial meltdown false.  Here’s the text of the ad:

Paul Kanjorski pocketed millions in contributions from his friends at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other banks. Then Kanjorski sponsored a bill to slash oversight on the banking industry. His friends at the banks made millions. Now, after they’ve sucked up all of the money, Kanjorski wants you to bail his rich friends out. Kanjorski, millions for him and his friends taken out of our pockets.

Lou Barletta: I’m Lou Barletta and I approve this message.

This is revisionist history.  It was Republicans who deregulated the financial industry, Republicans who privatized Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and Republicans who refused to regulate hedge funds speculating in risky mortgage securities.

The bill Barletta references didn’t even make it out of committee but he says bankers made millions because of a law sponsored by Paul Kanjorski.  There is no such law.  Barletta also tells voters Kanjo took $96,000 in campaign contributions from mortgage buyers.  What he omits is that this is since 1989.  This is an average of about $5,000 per year, hardly enough to buy off anyone.

Barletta also lies when he claims Kanjorski has taken “millions of dollars from banks.”  Unfortunately Lou Barletta has to include non banking sectors such as real estate and insurance companies to reach that figure.  Of course real estate and insurance companies are NOT banks.  

Adam Benson, spokesperson for Kanjorski’s campaign, said this:

“Mayor Barletta has a history on this front. You will remember that in 2002, his campaign had to pull another ad down because it was inaccurate. Barletta says he is an ‘independent Republican’, but his campaign is looking more like a typical Republican campaign every day – he is relying on smear tactics to win a seat in Congress. America is rejecting that in the Presidential race, and I think Northeastern Pennsylvania will reject it too.”

Do we really want someone in Congress who has to lie to win?  Aren’t we trying to change Washington this year?  Why would we send the likes of Lou Barletta whose only claim to fame is destroying the economy of Hazleton and saddling taxpayers with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and liabilities?

Hazleton’s own city administrator says they could end the year with a deficit of between $1.3 to $1.6 million.  Hazlton almost lost state pension aid when Mayor Barletta improperly transferred $1.5 million from the city’s pension fund to pay health care costs.  This isn’t the sort of financial mismanagement we need in Washington.

Benson says this about Mayor Barletta’s reign as Mayor of Hazleton:

“The Mayor has neglected his responsibilities in Hazleton during his aggressive pursuit to be a Congressman, while Congressman Paul Kanjorski has been working to help American families get through a financial crisis.  The Wall Street Journal called Congressman Kanjorski a ‘profile in courage’ for his work on the economic recovery package while in the midst of a competitive campaign. There is a real contrast here – Barletta puts himself and his ambition ahead of his city’s needs, while Congressman Kanjorski fights to help working Americans during a financial crisis.”

“When it comes to financial management, Lou Barletta stands right up there with his friend George W. Bush as a failed leader,” Benson said. “We need someone who will work with Barack Obama to bring real change in healthcare, the economy and America’s energy policy – and Senator Obama would tell you that person is Paul Kanjorski.”

Lou Barletta is a one trick pony whose immigrant bashing has already led to the cold blooded murder of a Mexican in Shenandoah.  His demagoguery has resulted in empty businesses in Hazleton and a rash of lawsuits against the city.  All this based on false allegations that hispanics were responsible for increases in crime.

Lou Barletta will run anyone under the bus, almost literally, in his thirst for personal power and glory.  Be very careful not to run the entire 11th Congressional District under the bus on November 4th.