Thursday, January 31, 2008

Carney on Guns

In a press release Democrat Congressman Chris Carney has announced that he has now joined the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus. According to the release, “the Second Amendment Caucus is opposed to the banning of firearms, their accessories, their manufacture and their importation, and recognizes the right of lawful citizens to carry a weapon both at home and while traveling the nation.”

Gun owners might be surprised by this considering Chris’s own website stated “Chris supports a waiting period for handguns and restrictions on certain types of "special" ammunition to help ensure that neither falls into the hands of criminals or terrorists,” in November of 2006.

This position as well as his funding from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence likely contributed to the “F” rating he received from the NRA in 2006.

Perhaps the Congressman has had a change of heart. That would be very reassuring to gun owners in Pennsylvania.

Barletta vs. Kanjorski Round 2

From the Republican State Committee Website:

Mayor Lou Barletta is a wonderful candidate and I would love to see him run in the 11th Congressional District. He is a man of great integrity, conviction, and values. Mayor Barletta has led the city of Hazleton with great courage. "Over the past few months, I have encouraged Mayor Barletta to run on numerous occasions, and I understand and respect the fact that the Mayor wishes to make this decision with his family. However, I believe that it is important for our country to have the very best leaders representing us, and I have no doubt that Lou Barletta is that type of leader. To that end, I am encouraging all citizens in the 11th Congressional District to circulate petitions on his behalf." - Chairman Robert A. Gleason, Jr.To help us draft Lou Barletta for Congress, please contact or call 717-234-4901.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cops Due Over $200K

The Scranton Times has reported that an arbitrator has ruled that the City of Scranton owes its police officers nearly a quarter of a million dollars in back pay for failing to read the calendar correctly. Apparently, Mayor Chris Doherty’s administration made a very costly mistake for the taxpayers of Scranton. The story goes on to explain that the administration acted in “bad faith” when it failed to pay its workers for a rare 27th pay period in 2004.

It is a shame that working families in Scranton had to wait four years to receive a paycheck due to them.

This comes on the heels of another ruling stating that the City of Scranton can go forward with its recovery plan. Labor likely fears that this decision will be used to bust the police and fire unions in Scranton. Time will tell. At least the police can finally get their pay for 2004.

Clinton's Second Bomb on Obama

The Clinton’s didn’t take my advice. In a previous post, I discussed race relations and the accusations of race baiting surrounding the Clinton campaign. Well, Bill Clinton made it worse…again. In response to a question about how many Clintons does it take to beat an Obama, Bill Clinton responded with “Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here.” Get ready for round two on race.

Economic Stimulus

There is much talk about an economic stimulus package to steer the country from recession. Congressman Paul Kanjorski stated that the stimulus should be “timely, targeted, and temporary.” Kanjorski went on to say that he would be working on his end to try and soften the effects of the housing bubble bursting.

Congressman Chris Carney used the opportunity to both take a swipe at President Bush as well as advance the idea of middle class tax cuts.

Both Republican front runners in PA-10 also gave remarks that countered Carney’s. Both Meuser and Hackett called for tax cuts as well as cuts in government spending. Both also stated that they differed from Carney in that both support President Bush’s previous tax cut program as well as the elimination of the Death Tax.

There were no statements from either Davis Haire or Paul Swiderski, the other two declared candidates in the 10th Congressional District.

Best Enters Race

There is a new challenger entering the race in Luzerne County. PJ Best is throwing his hat in the ring. Best intends to challenge Democrat State Representative Mike Carroll for the Democratic nomination for the 118th. PJ states in his blog that Mike Carroll is furious over his running. I would think this is going to be a very interesting race based on the tone it has already.

Carney Takes One on the Chin

You may remember I detailed a letter to the editor sent into the mailbag by the Carney Campaign against Dan Meuser here. Apparently a concerned citizen has swung back at the leader of the Students for Carney that drafted the letter. The response letter can be found here.

I think this was a tremendous blunder on the part of the Carney campaign to start attacking so early in the election. It would have been far smarter for Carney to spend the primary season talking about his vision instead of using his Democrat political operatives to attack Republican candidates in a Republican Primary Election.

Bigus Goes Blue

The Times Leader ran a story on yet another Republican switch hitter in Luzerne County. Following the lead of former Republican candidate for County Commissioner Bill Jones, Russ Bigus has changed party registration in order to “move up the ladder.” You probably remember Russ from the 2006 Primary Election. Bigus, a former Dallas School Board Director, challenged now State Senator Lisa Baker for the Republican nomination in the primary. Bigus lost (came in fourth in a five way race) and now sees opportunity on the other side of the isle. It is now rumored that he may take a run at Republican State Representative Karen Boback.

In explaining the switch, Bigus states, “Bill (Jones) and myself have the drive, the work ethic and the ability to be successful in politics.” Bigus went on to compare his switch to one of changing jobs.

I am uncertain as to how changing parties can be compared to changing jobs. One would think that a person belongs to a particular political party out of shared goals and values.

When you examine Boback’s district, you will find that it falls entirely (or at least almost entirely) within Baker’s district. If you look at his previous electoral success in that same area as I have listed above (fourth in a five way race) I think his motivation becomes clear. He probably fears that he cannot win another Republican primary just two years after his previous loss. Since there are no other Democrats to date lining up to challenge Boback, Bigus would be secure going toward November.

Boback also has a challenge in the Republican Primary coming from James May. James also ran in 2006 but lost after being removed from the ballot and mounting an unsuccessful write-in campaign.

Perhaps Bigus believes that Boback will be either defeated or softened up by James May’s challenge creating an opportunity for him to be successful. Either way, this switch seems to me to be one of opportunity, not ideology.

Meuser had a good week

Based on the coverage of his first announcement on the campaign trail, I would say that Meuser is off to a good start. The Scranton Times reported that he had close to 250 in Wayne County.

The Abington Journal also covered announcements that Meuser made in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties. Both are reported to have been widely attended.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

No-Bid Contract in Luzerne

The Citizen’s Voice is covering a story on no-bid contracts being awarded in Luzerne County. As bad as no-bid contracts are, this contract wasn’t even voted on. I wonder who specifically authorized the contract if it wasn’t voted on?

The contract in question has doled out $670,000 so far for employment services from Continental Consulting Group Inc.

Steve Urban, Republican watchdog and minority Commissioner says that he feels the commissioners should have voted on the contract. Steve, I think the least the county could do would be to vote on it. Especially in light of the current financial mismanagement going on in Luzerne County.

How much does the county want to borrow again? Debit card anyone?

The article also mentions another contract awarded for employment services, that being a contract with One Source Staffing Solutions. The article states:

"The county paid OneSource Staffing Solutions more than $707,000 for similar employment services from January 2006 to May 2007. Both county employment contracts didn’t include expiration dates or maximum payment amounts. The commissioners approved the OneSource contract, said Urban, who voted against it. Chris Hackett, a Republican congressional candidate and vice chairman of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry’s board of directors, owns OneSource."

I don’t like the sound of this.

New Sheriff in Town

Times Leader on Savokinas

The Times Leader wrote a scathing piece on Luzerne County Sheriff Savokinas regarding his employment outside of Luzerne County. According to the piece, the guy has only been in office two weeks and has already broke campaign promises.

Maybe he figures the voters of Luzerne County will have almost four years to forget before he seeks re-election?

Show Me the Money

You may remember that I previously discussed the money in PA-10. Apparently, Meuser’s early showing of $400,000 cash on hand has prompted Hackett to do the same. The NRCC reports that Chris Hackett has $386,800. Mark Harris, Hackett’s campaign spokesman, revealed the numbers but not much else. This seems to suggest that both men are ending 2007 on reasonably the same terms. The interesting points will be to look at the number of contributors each men had, how much they loaned the campaign, and how much they are spending. Can anyone say millionaire’s amendment?

We are all still guessing as to where Carney, Haire, and Swiderski will be. Come on guys, float a release!

Meuser on TV

Meuser has finally hit the airwaves! I received an email from the Meuser campaign directing me HERE to watch the commercial on you tube. I have seen the spot on TV quite regularly already.

Vince says it's like this

Ex-Television personality Vince Sweeney has decided against a run for congress. The Scranton Times reported that Sweeney said "After tossing and turning over this matter for months, there is one inescapable fact: I really love what I'm presently doing and don't want to walk away from it. That's really what it's all about".

Personally, I think it is a good move on Vince’s part. Vince really had only one thing going for him that the other candidates’ didn’t posses…name recognition. While one has to concede the importance of name recognition, you also cannot discount money. There are already two rather big hitters in this race. I am not sure where Vince would have fallen in between them but I doubt it would have been as a winner.

That leaves Chris Hackett, Davis Haire, Dan Meuser, and Paul Swiderski still in the Republican running. So far, no one has emerged to challenge Congressman Chris Carney on the Democratic side.

This week starts the first operational test of a campaign, petitions. Congressional candidates need a minimum of 1,000 qualified signatures to gain access to the ballot. As someone who has passed a petition in the past, I can tell you that petitions are not a small undertaking.

I would think that both Hackett and Meuser have the organization to get the job done. It is with Haire and Swiderski that I can see some difficulty. If either men don’t have the organization to collect in excess of the 1,000 minimum signatures, they won’t get any farther.

Eckel on Board

Former PA Farm Bureau President, Keith Eckel, of Clarks Summit has been appointed by President Bush to serve on the International Food and Agricultural Development board.

Eckel also has been announced as Honorary Co-Chairman of the Meuser for Congress Campaign.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ely Endorses Meuser

In an article in today’s Times-Leader, Conservative Republican and State Committee Man Don Ely, has dropped from the race to endorse Dan Meuser. Meuser has the full text of the release here.

I think this is an obvious boost for Meuser across PA-10 in general but in the Southern portion of the district in particular. I am not a big fan of automated polls but I don’t think anyone will dispute Ely’s influence in Northumberland and Snyder counties at a minimum.

The Meuser Endorsements so far include, RSC’s Don Ely, Former Senator Rick Santorum, homeland security expert and former Auditor General candidate Joe Peters, and Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

CF on PA Tax Cuts

The Morning Call ran a great article by Matthew J. Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation on cutting the state income tax. In summation, Brouillette states that by reducing the state income tax from 3.07% to 2.8%, PA could benefit to the tune of 26,671 new jobs. This is a forward looking article that uses economics to analyze policy. PA is ranked 38th in job growth, 40th in personal income growth, and 42nd in population growth under Governor Rendell’s tenure. Perhaps the Harrisburg crowd should try something other than gambling to improve our economy (and yes we are all still waiting for the promised property tax reform.)

Clinton's Bomb on Obama

Hillary Clinton has created a heck of a problem for herself. The Politico has been covering the now infamous series of racial remarks to come from both Senator Clinton and her husband the President Bill Clinton. Even Hillary’s Harlem based consultant, Bill Lynch, calls Clinton’s racial statements a “mistake.” To make matters worse, Bill Clinton is now lashing out over the media’s coverage of the same. This is obviously terrible timing for the Clinton Campaign as they are now preparing to journey to South Carolina.

A bit of advice, STOP. Even though Bill Clinton was honored as the first black President at the Congressional Black Caucus Awards Dinner in Washington in 2001, that doesn’t give him license to engage in race baiting. Race is a sensitive issue that shouldn’t be used (or abused) in politics or anything else.

PA Dems Had a Meeting

The Democratic Party of Pennsylvania held a meeting. The AP reports that the Democrats have endorsed PA Auditor General Jack Wagner for a second term as well as Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli for PA Attorney General.

It was not as easy for those vying for PA State Treasurer. Apparently, John Cordisco and Rob McCord both were in the running for the party’s endorsement. Because neither could get the mandated 212 votes (McCord 191, Cordisco 123) for a 2/3 majority, the race remains open.

Also, the Democrats held a straw poll. Hillary Clinton received the most support with 44.9% of the vote. Barack Hussein Obama received 27.5% and John Edwards received 24.1%. Pulling up a distant fourth place, Dennis Kucinich received 3.5%.

This follows the most recent polling in PA. The latest Quinnipiac shows Clinton ahead with 43% of the vote. The same poll also shows Giuliani ahead with 27% of the vote. This poll was conducted between 11/26-12/3.

The Real Clear Politics average for Clinton vs. Giuliani shows Clinton ahead by 2.4%.

Barletta vs. Kanjorski

In a Times Leader story, Barletta calls Congressman Paul Kanjorski on his taxpayer funded mailings. “Franking” is the term for this type of mail. Basically, Congressman and Senators are supposed to use this medium to keep their constituents abreast of what is going on in Washington, D.C. Barletta takes exception with this.

As the story points out, challengers typically call these a waste while incumbents typically hail their use. Many a Congressman claims that these are not political mailings but rather, are informational tools.

To understand Franked mail you really have to go through its history. In the US, franked mail began in 1789. This was obviously a time when communication was very limited. At this time, people truly relied on these communications to find out what was being done on their behalf in Washington, D.C. Certainly, the times have changed. With the advent of the internet, television, and infrastructure improvements across the country, it is a hard argument to make today.

According to a National Journal piece, Congress spent $18.9 million dollars on franking in 2005.

Carney Comes Out Swinging!

Congressman Chris Carney’s campaign has officially thrown the first punch in the race for PA-10. A letter to the editor has appeared in the Susquehanna Independent that attacks Dan Meuser. The writer, Tom Onuska, is none other than the Chairman of Students for Carney. After digging a little further, I was also able to find that the Hallstead, PA man is also a registered Democrat.

It was strange to me that Chris Carney would start swinging at the Republicans this early in the campaign. Especially by having registered Democrats attack Republicans during a Republican Primary. You would think the campaign would wait until the victor of the April 22 Primary has been decided. That is, until I dug even further.

It turns out that American Hospital Association PAC hired the Democratic firm of Momentum Analysis to perform a poll. The poll showed that in a head to head matchup against the leading Republican candidates, Carney garnered 53% while Meuser captured 23% with the remaining saying they were undecided. On the surface, this would suggest that Carney is in a position of strength going into the election as the article states. I have to disagree.

As you view the 2006 Election results, you can see that Chris Carney defeated Don Sherwood with 52.9% of the vote. That suggests that after a year in congress, huge earmarks for his district, and the benefit of taxpayer paid (franked) mail, Carney is in no better a position that he was on Election Day 2006.

Mr. Meuser is a relative unknown. He had done zero advertising at the time of the poll. He has 23% of the district.

After examining the election returns from 2006, the campaign finances of both candidates, and the results of this poll it is very clear to me why Chris Carney is already attacking Mr. Meuser. If this is any indication of the direction the campaign will be going in 2008, I would get ready for a knock down, drag out fight for the 10th Congressional District of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

PA-10's Money Wars

I guess we will start things off with the race for Congress in PA-10. I received an email that contained a memo from the Meuser Campaign. It would seem that Dan Meuser is off to a great start on the fundraising front. As I write this, no one else has released their numbers for their end of year report to Politics in Northeast Pennsylvania. Dan's memo can be found below. To contrast, the fundraising totals for the other candidates in PA-10 will be listed from their last reported figures.

At last reporting, Chris Carney (D) had $589,268, Don Ely (R) had $8,846, and Chris Hackett (R) had $246,811 cash on hand. Dan Meuser (R) had $0 at this time but now shows $400,000 according to his release. The first report for Ely and Hackett can probably be viewed as a bit premature as they both started relatively close to the submission date. The real test will be in their year end report due January 31, 2008.

Financial support is viewed by many as an indicator of a candidate's strength. Let's face it, you just don't get very far going against well heeled opponents with a few buck in the bank.


Thanks for stopping by. I started this blog to discuss the issues of the day with a specific emphasis on the politics of our region. I welcome submissions of political news, press releases, and the like. I will respect your confidentiality. Sit back, relax, grab a cup of joe, and enjoy yourself!