Off to the Races: The Election is Near

Which Democrats will win Tuesday's primary? Only you can decide.

By Daniel Denvir, Milena Velis and Randy Lobasso
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 7 | Posted May. 11, 2010

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Primary elections for governor, senator, state Legislature, and party committeepeople take place on May 18. And as usual, who you elect matters. After the acrimonious health-care debate, Republicans smell blood in the water, and they are hoping for a low Philadelphia turnout in November. In Pennsylvania, politics are particularly hard to keep a handle on. We have the largest full-time Legislature (253) in the country with the biggest staff (almost 3,000), and we have 28 races taking place in Philadelphia alone. PW takes a look at some of the hotly contested seats including the contentious Senate race between Arlen Specter and Joe Sestak, the governor’s race and a few others closer to your hood.

It’s up to you which one of DEM will prevail.


The Governer's Race

The primary races for governor offer voters a chance to make an important choice about the future of our state. Republicans will choose between state Attorney General Tom Corbett, who was smart enough to indict some two-dozen legislators on corruption charges but repugnant enough to file suit against the health-care reform law; and Sen. Sam Rohrer (Berks County), a Tea Partier. Both pledge deep cuts in spending.

Moving on to the Democrats.

Dan Oronato: The Allegheny County executive is the front-runner and Ed Rendell’s anointed successor. He is campaigning on the Pittsburgh economic turnaround he takes credit for overseeing. But Onorato has taken a lot of money from natural-gas drillers, and he opposes both gay marriage and abortion.

Jack Wagner: The state auditor is a social conservative who also opposes gay marriage and abortion. He is running on his record of cracking down on waste and abuse, and pledges to downsize the Legislature. He secured the Inquirer’s endorsement.

Anthony Williams: The state senator was a late and surprise entry. For the past few months he’s been advocating for laws that would hold parents criminally responsible for their childrens’ misbehavior (flash mobbers beware) and is largely funded by wealthy supporters of school vouchers—which makes sense given that he is an outspoken supporter of using public funds to pay for private and parochial schools. Mayor Nutter and most other Philly pols have lined up to support the hometown contender.

Joe Hoeffel: The former congressman and Montgomery County commissioner is the self-described progressive in the race: He supports regulation and taxation of natural-gas drilling, same-sex marriage, closing the budget gap by taxing those who can pay more and is adamantly pro-choice. But it’s an uphill climb: Critics say that Hoeffel is too liberal for this state and Williams is likely to cut into some of the Southeast Pa. voters he was counting on.

As of now, Onorato has pulled away from the pack, so the other three candidates have their attack ads pointed in the same direction. (D.D.)

The battle Specter thought would be easy

When Arlen Specter changed parties on April 28, 2009, after 44 years of Republicanism, he claimed he was doing so because of his being “increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party.” Oh, yeah, and he also admitted: “My change in party will enable me to be re-elected.”

By the time you pick up next week’s PW, we’ll all know if his transformation was worth the trouble. Because it’s coming down to the wire.

Constitutional Lawyer Glenn Greenwald put Specter’s party switch in its most blunt context when he called Pennsylvania’s senior senator “one of the worst, most soul-less, most belief-free individuals in politics.” Greenwald backed up his claim by noting where Specter has stood over the years on the Bush administration, voting for “the war on Iraq, the Military Commissions Act, Patriot Act renewal, confirmation of virtually every controversial Bush appointee, retroactive telecom immunity, warrantless eavesdropping expansions, and Bush tax cuts (several times).”

He noted of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, “[Specter] went to the floor of the Senate and said what the bill ‘seeks to do is set back basic rights by some 900 years’ and is ‘patently unconstitutional on its face.’ He then proceeded to vote YES on the bill’s passage.”

Since that time, he’s predictably voted with Democrats on almost every significant step of the Obama agenda (more than 95 percent of the time). That includes health care, the jobs bill and Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation after voting ‘No’ and supporting holds on many key Obama post nominees as a Republican (including when Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was up for solicitor general).

Establishment Democrats, including President Obama and Majority Leader Reid, were enthusiastic about Specter’s decision. MSNBC reported the DSCC wouldn’t run a primary candidate against Specter. And when MontCo-DelCo Rep. Joe Sestak announced his candidacy for the Democratic primary on Aug. 4, most doubted it would be of any significance.

Then 2010 began.

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Comments 1 - 7 of 7
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1. Anonymous said... on May 12, 2010 at 09:35AM

“Informative article, although I don't know that I agree with some
of the observations...well written, the quality of this paper keeps getting

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2. Anonymous said... on May 12, 2010 at 11:10AM

“I am not sure that Lucien's daughter is invisible after hearing her speak it seems that she is clearly a better candidate than Vanessa and Sharif.”

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3. Anonymous said... on May 12, 2010 at 09:00PM

“vote hoeffel! PA needs a progressive leader in harrisburg.”

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4. Tim Kearney said... on May 13, 2010 at 03:53AM

“I think you overstated how many legislators Attorney General Corbett has indicted. I think your number reflects legislators and their staff members, not just legislators alone.”

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5. Tim Kearney said... on May 13, 2010 at 04:34AM

“Voters should ask Kevin if he supports recruiting 13, 14, 15, and 16 year old boys and girls into the US Army. This is what I was protesting along with hundreds of other people. Perhaps, Kevin doesn't think this is what the Army Experience Center is all about.

Voters should ask Kevin, if he thinks a sitting Judge, who is a voluntary member of a labor organization, in which the deceased victim was an active member, should recuse himself.

And, if Kevin thinks 172nd District voters are out of step with an endorsement by the local Chapter of the Communist Party, then does Kevin think these same voters are out of step with Social Security, Medicare, unemployment compensation, the police and fire departments, the health department, libraries, and the streets department, et cetera. For Kevin (and his brother Brendan) to enjoy the fruits of state jobs, state benefits, future state pensions, and then "decry communism" is interesting duplicity.”

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6. Kevin Boyle said... on May 15, 2010 at 06:38AM

“I never told the author of this article that I moved to run for office. If I had chosen at the time I purchased my first home here in Fox Chase in 2007 to move into Perzel's district for political reasons it would be crazy. Perzel was one of the most entrenched incumbents at the time.

My block is filled with mostly people that used to live in my old neighborhood Olney, Lawncrest and Summerdale. These are all communities that are within a seven to eight minute drive and have seen their quality of life decline. Crime has increased, stores closed, etc.”

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