OUT & ABOUT: Now It Begins … The Battle Of The Toms

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BY DENISE CLAY/ Well, Pennsylvania Primary Election Night 2014 has come and gone.

And in the aftermath, the November Elections could be entitled “The Battle for ‘Tom’ Supremacy”.

Tom Wolf, the York-based businessman who was Finance Secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell bested his fellow Democratic challengers – Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, current State Treasurer Rob McCord, and former State Environmental Secretary Katie McGinty – by a pretty decent margin on Tuesday night.

To tell you just how quickly election night was over for those of us covering the Democratic gubernatorial race, the bar at Rep. Schwartz’s campaign party was packed up by 10 p.m.

ART HAYWOOD toppled State Sen. LeAnna Washington in May 20 primary following her indictment.

ART HAYWOOD toppled State Sen. LeAnna Washington in May 20 primary following her indictment.

In other races of note, State Sen. LeAnna Washington was defeated in her bid for reelection by Arthur Haywood. State Attorney General Kathleen Kane indicted Washington for allegedly using her taxpayer-funded staff to put together her annual campaign fundraisers. Now that she won’t have to worry about campaigning for office anymore, she can spend her time trying to stay out of jail.

Which is also what State Rep. J.P. Miranda will be trying to do. Rep. Miranda lost his bid for reelection to Leslie Acosta, daughter of former State Rep. Ralph Acosta. This frees Miranda to defend himself against charges that allegedly used a “ghost” employee to pay his sister, who he wasn’t allowed to hire as his chief of staff due to nepotism rules. Those charges came from the District Attorney’s office earlier this year.

Oddly enough, all of the State Representatives named in a corruption probe that Attorney General Kane shut down because she found it problematic – State Reps. Vanessa Lowery Brown, Ron Waters, Michelle Brownlee and Louise Bishop – managed to win reelection easily. In fact, Lowery Brown was the only one of the four that even had an opponent.

As usual, I have a list of things I observed throughout the campaign season, and that’s what I leave you with.

• Weather doesn’t determine voter turnout. When it comes to voter turnout, or in the case of Pennsylvania’s primaries, lack of voter turnout, the convention wisdom is that inclement weather keeps people from coming to the polls.

The 70-degree temps and pleasant weather that we had on Tuesday shoots all kind of holes in that theory. While the numbers on turnout haven’t been calculated yet, it was low. Really low.

• It’s hard out here for a chick. When Kathleen Kane won her bid to be Attorney General in 2013, I was kind of shocked because, well, she’s a woman. Statewide here in Pennsylvania, a woman can be Lieutenant Governor (a largely ceremonial position), Treasurer, or something like that.

That two accomplished, intelligent women like Schwartz and McGinty couldn’t even break 30% in terms of vote totals tells me that at least among the electorate that came out, sexism is alive and well in Pennsylvania.

• We haven’t heard the last of Katie McGinty, or at least I hope we haven’t. When Katie McGinty threw her hat in the ring, we didn’t know much about her. But as she made her way along the campaign trail, sticking to the issues, coming out with great ideas, and showing us that this policeman’s daughter from the Northeast could handle her business, she gained the respect of a lot of people, myself included. I just wish she had entered the campaign a lot earlier and had a lot more money. She’d have made things interesting.

• If Tom Wolf doesn’t grow a much-thicker skin, Gov. Corbett and the Republican Governors’ Association are going to treat him like he’s a chew toy… and they’re a bunch of pit bulls. I’ve said this to a few people, and they’ve tried to tell me that this isn’t the case, but toward the end of the campaign, when McCord and Schwartz were throwing things at him, Wolf started taking some dings.

As questions of Wolf’s ability to lead kept coming up, particularly in the Charlie Robinson matter, Wolf went from being the confident frontrunner to a guy whose body language started to change. You saw slumped shoulders, furrowed brows, looks of concern and answers that went from defending to defensive.

Now, his supporters aren’t gonna want to hear this, but if Wolf isn’t strong enough to withstand what McCord and Schwartz were throwing at him, he’s really not ready for what the Republican Governor’s Association, the Republican National Committee, and the 527-groups they control are about to send his way.

So you’ve got two choices, Democrats: Either give up now, or help Wolf learn to roll with the punches because without that skill, he hasn’t got a chance. And my election night will be over by 8:30 p.m. in November.

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One Response to OUT & ABOUT: Now It Begins … The Battle Of The Toms

  1. I am happy for Art Haywood and the fact that Sen. Washington’s indictment wasn’t rewarded with her being reelected. I am also just as disappointed in the voter turnout. Some communities complain about the lack of services or lack of attention from candidates but then we don’t participate in the electoral process.

    I wish Tom Wolf luck going forward. I hope Democrats can be energized by the fact that we need an alternative to Tom Corbett.

    Michael E. Bell
    May 27, 2014 at 11:14 am

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