Politically Savvy Friends

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Seven Weeks to Go

Dear Politically Savvy Friends,

Seven weeks from today, voters in Pennsylvania will stay home. I would be surprised if more than 20 to 25% of registered voters bothered to cast a ballot. Of course, that gives more power to those of us who do vote -- but it also puts a premium on those campaigns that can best organize their get-out-the-vote efforts.

The Pittsburgh mayor's race is relatively boring, despite Mark DeSantis' best effort to engage Luke Ravenstahl. As you can see if you click on the stories to the right, last week Ravenstahl announced that he was keeping most of the city directors that he asked to resign 90 days ago. DeSantis derided that exercise, but the mayor ignored him. This week, DeSantis attempted to stake a stronger ethics position -- again see the story posted to the right -- and, this time, Ravenstahl just welcomed DeSantis to the cause.

This race for mayor probably won't get close until we see some television ads that really trashes Luke -- and, even then, it's still hard to imagine an upset of Ravenstahl. Still, give DeSantis credit for attempting to create fire when most people don't even see smoke.

What may wake some people up in Campaign 2007 will be the judge races. Well, maybe not exactly wake you up, but at least get your attention. It will be hard to miss all the TV ads we expect in October. Add to that the fact that PA Clean Sweep is urging a NO vote against all seven statewide judges running for reelection. That includes State Supreme Court Justice Tom Saylor. The anti-pay raise group also wants a NO vote against the local judges up for retention, too. Their sin? Accepting the double-digit pay raise that the state Supreme Court ruled the legislature could NOT repeal for judges.

It's not clear to me that the pay raise issue still has legs, but in any case I believe the anti-pay raise groups have overplayed their hand by urging a NO vote on every single judge in Pennsylvania. It's one thing to go against a state supreme court justice -- like they did successfully against former Justice Russell Nigro in 2005 -- but it's quite another to urge voters to reject every judge even if they had no connection whatsover with the pay raise controversy. In my view, it makes PA Clean Sweep look just a wee bit unreasonable, particularly since (as I know from personal experience) many of these judges are extraordinarily good.

Unlike 2005, there will be organized efforts to urge voters to vote YES for many of these judges, both by the judges themselves and their supporters in the legal community. In an exclusive interview posted to the right, Superior Court President Judge Kate Ford Elliott sat down with me, on camera, to speak out on this issue. Sitting judges rarely go on camera, let alone talk politics. Obviously, this issue is being felt very deeply in the judicial system.

Campaign 2008 is just around the corner chronologically, even if it began months ago. Last week, Rudy Giuliani was in town to raise big bucks in Washington County, but (as we've learned from earlier visits) Rudy likes to sample the local fare. This time it was Sarris candy in Canonsburg. But after the schmooze, the former New York mayor launched into a major attack on Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for not "denouncing" Move-On.Org, the liberal group that asked whether General Petraeus would become General Betray-Us. Giuliani's attack on Clinton is one way that he can win over Republican voters who disdain the Clintons, and he couples it with the somewhat legitimate argument that he's the one Republican who can take it to Clinton in moderate states lilke Pennsylvania.

Given the irrelevance of Pennsylvania in the primary season -- the PA primary is not until April 22 when the nominees should have pretty much been decided -- it's still nice to see a few of the presidential candidates traipse through our area, even if it's only for our money and food! Pierogis, anyone?

1 comment:

John K. said...

I agree about the judges. It appears the mob has run out of steam. Neither Pintek nor Honsberger seem consumed by this story. And they carried the ball thru the last time. But to throw all judges out makes no sense.