Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vote 2013 Post Script

The numbers are in.  We know the winners and the losers.  Now, it's time to try to make some sense out of it.

First, there really are no losers.  Politics is a tough and expensive sport.  Kudos to those who choose to enter the arena.  There are times I think I'd like to serve.  Running for office is a completely different animal.

I made the rounds yesterday, and talked with others who did the same.  There was a common thread:  disappointing turnout.  As I've said before, local races really do have a big impact on your life.  It's unfortunate that turnout is so much lower than in presidential elections.

My assignment yesterday was to report on the Scranton mayoral election.  Republican James Mulligan was first to vote.  Below is a shot of Mulligan and his family crossing Columbia Street, on their way to the polling place at Robert Morris Elementary.

I was a little surprised at the Mulligan campaign.  After he was chosen to replace a candidate that bailed, I thought there would be an under financed, token effort.  Mulligan and his people put a lot in to it.

Above, Newswatch 16 photographer Dave Jones gets some video of Mulligan and family, inside the polling place.

Current mayor Chris Doherty votes at the same place, and I thought he was the most interesting character of the day.  Doherty strode in, looking very relaxed.  After four years on council and 16 in the mayor's office, he's leaving public service.  Doherty said he'd make an announcement on his future, after leaving office in January.  I suspect we'll see his name on a ballot in 2014.
As I noted on Newswatch 16 at Noon, Doherty inherited a city in financial distress, and he leaves a city in financial distress.  He believes Scranton is in better shape than it was 12 years ago.  Doherty asserts crime is low, people live downtown, and the park system is better.  I'm not sure how history will view the Doherty administration.  There were some bruising budget battles.  The city flirted with bankruptcy.  He made massive cuts in the fire department, cuts that were later reversed.  Scranton is in a huge financial hole, and I'm not sure it can recover.  I will say that Doherty always got on camera and didn't hide from the issues.

The rest of my day was spent at the Keyser Valley Community Center on North Keyser Avenue.  It's one of my favorite polling places.  It's usually busy, and that means a lot of candidates stop by to campaign in person.  If you want to know what's happening, spend some time at Keyser Valley.
This is also where Democratic Scranton mayoral candidate Bill Courtright votes.  That's the candidate and some family members above.

Democrats enjoy a huge registration edge in Scranton.  Courtright appeared to be the favored candidate of city workers and their families.  That's a big block of votes, so the race was Courtright's to lose.

Below, Newswatch 16 photographer Steve Smallwood shoots video of Courtright and family signing in at the polls.

Courtright won by ten percentage points, and while that's a lot, consider that huge voter registration edge Democrats have in Scranton.  Mulligan wrapped up a decent number.  It shows voters want a new face, but it still wasn't enough to put Mulligan over the top.

Democrats swept Lackawanna County's row offices.  A campaign manager for one Republican candidate complained to me that the county Republican party did nothing to help his guy.  Republicans have been pasted on the county level in recent years.  It should serve as a wake up call to the party, but so far, there are no signs of that.

In a nasty district justice race in the Pittston area, Alexandra Kokura won.  The guy who went nuclear negative first lost.  There's a lesson there.

Another lesson:  don't get charged with waving a gun at a repo man.  Patrick Reynolds lost, big time, in his attempt to become Schuylkill County sheriff.

Luzerne County voters ended Carolee Medico Olenginski's attempt at a political comeback.  She lost the controller's race to Michelle Bednar.  It wasn't that close.

Christine Holman has a 67 vote lead over Karen Byrnes Noon for district attorney in Schuylkill County.  The official vote count and the tallying of absentee ballots should be interesting.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie's victory was declared one minute after the polls closed last night.  He won by a huge margin.  The national Republican party has to sit up and take notice of that.  He's one of the county's big stars, no pun intended.

Now that the election is over, it's time to think about exit interviews and inauguration coverage.  I'll start building some "Vote 2014" graphics.  It will be an interesting year, with races for state house and senate, plus U.S. House and Pennsylvania governor.