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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Results, and Pardon My Lecture

Okay.  The numbers are in, and it's time to tell you what I think.

I felt Arlen Specter would squeak by.  He lost, and it wasn't close.  We all have a "shelf life" and Specter has reached his.  The party switch was a blatant bid to buy more time.  The voters didn't go for it.  Note to future campaigns:   Attacking John Kerry's military record worked for George Bush.  It hurt Specter-- badly when he went on the attack against the Navy service of Joe Sestak.  I never sensed Pennsylvania had a love affair with Arlen Specter, but he was a competent legislator, who we kept sending back to Washington.  There were many close calls over the years.  The Democrats finally found someone who could beat Arlen Specter.  Unfortunately for the Democrats, the guy was in their own party, and it took a bruising primary to do it.  The Democrats could never beat Specter while he was on Team Elephant.

Dan Onorato breezes to the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.  I never figured out why the Wagner campaign sputtered.  He's done well in state wide races before.  I thought Anthony Williams would make a better showing-- but the ghost of the pay raise vote still haunts a lot of people.

Tom Corbett wins in a walk on the Republican side.

Paul Kanjorski won the Democratic congressional nomination again, and that was expected.  Corey O'Brien campaigned hard, and I thought he'd do better.  The Kanjorski campaign hit the right notes.  It has the thing down to a science-- appeal to seniors and veterans, two groups who always vote.  O'Brien conducted a "nice" campaign.  Kanjorski has some vulnerabilities,  but they weren't attacked.  By the way, the Scranton Times~Tribune astutely pointed out that O'Brien and the third person in the race, Brian Kelly, had more votes, combined, than Kanjorski.  The fall campaign with Lou Barletta should be another bloody affair. 

Dave Argall narrowly won the Republican congressional nomination in the 17th district.  I thought he'd dispatch his opponents by a larger margin.  I'm guessing voters were making Argall pay for the mess in Harrisburg.

John Blake winning the Democratic nomination in the 22nd district is a bit of a surprise.  I thought his campaign commercials were dry and didn't offer much.  Chuck Volpe saturated television, and that was good enough for second place.  Chris Doherty finished third.  I suspect the months where he couldn't pick an office to run for hurt him.   Doherty could be one of those guys whose support is "a mile wide, but an inch deep."  It was a crowded field, and as John Blake proved, anything could happen.

The same "mile wide" thing goes for Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton.  He got crushed by John Yudichak in the race for state senate.  I thought Leighton had it won with the ad attacking Yudichak on his use of per diems in Harrisburg.  Leighton lost points for continually weasling around his response to the Brace letter.  If you remember, Leighton wrote a letter on behalf of Bill Brace, just before the sentencing for that admitted thief.  It took Leighton a long time to admit to what he actually did.  Hey, I have no problem with the letter.  Leighton and Brace were friends for a long time, and I wouldn't want my friends to abandon me in times of need.  However, Leighton handled it poorly, and tried to duck the issue-- much like I'm still waiting for that phone call to discuss Boscov's bankruptcy.  If Leighton was up front and honest, if he manned up, he might be planning for a trip to Harrisburg right now.  There is also a mishandling of the city's fire department staffing issues.  Building parking garages and going to the ribbon cutting for donut shops wasn't enough to get people to like Tom Leighton.

State Representative Ken Smith proved you can skip paying back your loans and taxes, and still win your party's nomination.

Former broadcaster Sid Michaels Kavulich won the Democratic nomination for state house in the 114th.  There is no doubt Sid takes this responsibility seriously, unlike other broadcasters who have soiled the profession after moving into politics.

The Dunmore firefighters tax went down in flames.  There's no surprise there.  That town really needs to get its act together.  There's no need for the parade of controversies and economic catastrophes.

Buckle up.  The general election campaign begins today.

Preliminary figures show that about one third of eligible voters went to the polls yesterday, and that's just sad.

Democracy is a wonderful system, but it will be even better if more people participate.

I spoke with a lot of people at the polls yesterday.  The consensus is that bad weather and apathy kept people away.

That lends fuel to an argument that takes place at television stations across the country.  Some reason that we shouldn't spend a lot of time and money covering politics and elections because no one cares.  I'm not a cheerleader or a company man, but I'm happy WNEP takes its responsibility seriously.  We cover elections.

There were come complaints that Republicans were ignored yesterday, and I will have to say that is, at least partially true.  We cover RACES.  Many of the Republican candidates had little or no opposition  In the primary, you follow the heat.  Things are a little easier in November, when there's a level playing field.  Congressional candidate Lou Barletta had no opponent yesterday, but I did mention him in my reports.  Kanjorski and O'Brien were generating the heat, and most of the coverage fell their way.

Then, there is the story of Action 16 Investigative Reporter Dave Bohman getting to the bottom of a misleading spot launched by Joe Sestak against Arlen Specter.  It's abundantly clear that Specter's words were taken out of context.  We showed that.  No one was happy-- on both sides.  No one was happy because it was a good and fair piece.  Clever editing distorted Specter's meaning.

Let me tell you something about those of us who cover politics.  We have bias.  There are candidates we like, and others we detest...  but it's all neutral when we enter 16 Montage Mountain Road.   There is a safety net.  Before my noon piece on Kanjorski and O'Brien got on the air, it was reviewed by two anchors and a producer. I'm sure one of the higher ups even got into the system to take a look at the script before it aired.  They're the bias busters, but they have a fairly easy job.  We have several veteran journalists on the staff.  They know how to play fair.  It's never in question.

Full disclosure:  I'm a registered independent, so I'm not allowed to vote in the primary. That election is only for the party people, and I'm okay with that.  I still have my opinions now, and especially when I vote in November, but the opinions stay at home.  They're not allowed to go to work with me.

Not everything was bad yesterday.  It was nice to see parents take their kids to the polls.  Get them interested while they're young.  Impress upon them that they have the power to influence our government.

I was also happy with myself.  Even after 28 years, I still enjoy covering elections, and I envy those who had a piece of the action last night.  Plus, FREE food and drink!