It’s easier to hit the party button than to research those on it. We are not judging party button pushers. It is wiser, after all, to vote for the group that might look after one’s interest when one knows the other side certainly won’t.
Still, it is best to do the research and vote the person.
Which gets us to Pennsylvania Supreme Court Race 2015.
Unions are also giving money to Ms. Covey, a Commonwealth Court judge from Bucks County who spent years as a labor lawyer and served on the Labor Relations Board.
So that gives us a pretty clear indication that ticket splitting is the thing to do this Nov. 3. Those who care about keeping their homes will vote for endorsed Republicans George and Ms. Olson along with independent Panepinto.
Regarding the backgrounds of the Supreme Court candidates, all are judges. As noted Ms. Covey sits on Commonwealth Court, the state intermediate appellate court regarding decisions by government regulatory agencies; Wecht, Ms. Donohue, and Ms. Olson are on Pennsylvania Superior Court, the intermediate appellate court for criminal and civil cases; George is an Adams County Common Pleas Court judge, and Panepinto is a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judges.
Ms. Covey is the only candidate not recommended by the state Bar Association.
Ms. Olson and George have been endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association.
Leading up to the May primaries we noted that organized labor had made significant contributions to the campaign of Judge Kevin Dougherty. (Note: Dougherty’s brother was just made the head of the Philadelphia Building Trades Council.) The spending did not stop after the primaries ended; it expanded. According to a Philadelphia Inquirer article, organized labor has now made over $1.3 million in direct contributions to candidates for the Supreme Court.
Unions see the composition of the Supreme Court as being of critical importance in the near future:
“‘For us right now, the Supreme Court is ground zero,’ said Joe Battaglia, treasurer of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local 1, representing about 3,000 workers in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.”
The article outlines how unions see the Supreme Court as a bull work against any legislation that affects whether or not the government will act as a union collection agent for dues and political contributions. Supreme Court elections are generally sleepy affairs. However, this year’s elections will impact what ability the Legislature has to address issues like liquor store privatization and pension reform for decades.
If the Supreme Court races have flown under your radar up until now, you had better start paying attention. Otherwise, Pennsylvania may find itself with a court more interested in affecting policy than being interested in what the laws and state constitution actually say.
Judge Paul Panepinto, who sits on the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, has acquired enough signatures to run as a independent for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this Nov. 3. The 29,000 names are more than twice the number necessary to get on the ballot.
There are three open seats. On the Republican ballot are Judith Olson, Michael George and Anne Covey. On the Democrat side are David Wecht, Christine Donohue and Kevin Dougherty.
Considering that union boss John Kane handily fell to Tom McGarrigle last November while running as a Democrat, and considering that union boss Paul Mullen lost yesterday in what should have been a Republican gimmee while running as a Republican, and considering that John Kane endorsed Paul Mullen this race, maybe the leaderships of both parties should figure a union connection is the kiss of death in Delaware County, Pa.
She will take the side of the Gary Schultzes of the world rather than the widow on Social Security or the married couple with two kids who just bought a home. She will fight against privatizing the State Store system.
So she is neither a friend of common sense or compassion and will have to be fought herself.
But those of the 161st District can only blame the county and state Republicans that she is their representative.
The past month has been tumultuous, the past two days a blur. One lesson I learned a long time ago was significantly reinforced today: no matter how much money, power and influence you may possess, unless you are true to who you are, none of that matters. At all.
I would like to congratulate Leanne Krueger-Braneky on her election to represent the good people of the 161st District. Most importantly her team ran a solid campaign, she was true to her beliefs and ultimately triumphed because she remained true to herself. Politically, philosophically, I would say she and I are polar opposites but at the end of the day we are who we are.
Lisa Esler did something for me that no other person running for office has done in the 25 years I have voted. She gave me the opportunity to cast a ballot for a true conservative. Unwavering in her beliefs, unflinching in her resolve Lisa spoke Truth to power and has given a wayward Republican party a very necessary wake up call. The base didn’t leave the party, the party turned it’s back on the base.
Some pundits will categorize Lisa as the “spoiler”. I fully reject that notion. People would have simply stayed home. I say this with confidence because history shows this to be true. The presidential election of 2012 is but one example that supports this. Personally, if Lisa didn’t throw her hat into the ring Leanne would have had my vote. I would rather vote for someone who I disagree with but is frank about their positions and honest about who they are. Leanne still would have won but with a higher margin, the voters just want someone who says what they mean and mean what they say.
Throughout this election I met some incredible people too numerous to list. Lisa’s volunteers were passionate, well informed, articulate and sincere. I feel I met some people that I will potentially be friends with for a lifetime. I learned a lot, I especially learned a lot about myself and what I truly believe.
I want to thank everyone who helped Lisa by volunteering their time, treasure and talents and especially the folks who voted for her.
Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky has won today’s (Aug. 4) election for the vacant 161st District Seat in the Pennsylvania House.
According to unofficial numbers from Delaware County, Mrs. Krueger-Braneky has received 4,791 votes, while Paul Mullen, who for some unfathomable reason had been tapped by the GOP, got 4,268 votes. Mullen is the county’s AFL-CIO president and had been supporting Democrats until this election.
There were 988 write-in votes cast most of them likely going to Republican write-in candidate Lisa Esler.
Mrs. Krueger-Braneky beat Mullen by more than 1,000 votes in Swarthmore.
The seat was vacated April 30 by Joe Hackett who easily beat Mrs. Krueger-Braneky last fall 12,612 to 9,916. Hackett said he wanted to return to law enforcement.
Why the county Republicans would pick a candidate like Mullen who they should have known would absolutely outrage a substantial portion of the base is certainly a mystery. Why they would pick a man unwilling to face questions from the public is beyond comprehension.
More significantly, with a pension bomb looming and property taxes rising, they should have understood that it was necessary to take the appropriate stands on issues such as banning teacher strikes and ending prevailing wage rather than picking a candidate that would oppose reforms.
Hopefully, they learned a lesson. We are not sure.
Now, for some secrets from the campaign.
Lisa Esler did not want to run. When she heard Mullen was seeking the candidacy she made her own submission with the expectation that the GOP would pick a compromise candidate. If the party leadership, picked the toil-in-the-vineyard hack she expected them too — rather than a supporter of extreme liberal candidates and an opponent of the fiscal reforms that she saw as a school director as being desperately needed — she would have shrugged her shoulders and maybe even worked to get him elected.
Two women gave honest presentations before a standing room crowd of at least 60 this afternoon, Aug. 2, as to where they stood on the issues facing Pennsylvania, while the endorsed Republican hid like, well, a little girl.
The forum sponsored by Delco Debates was held in the Swarthmore council meeting hall and concerned Tuesday’s special election for the vacant 161st District State House seat.
The participants were Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky and write-in Republican Lisa Esler. A empty chair was placed for Paul Mullen, the county AFL-CIO president who was tapped by the GOP. Several invitations were sent to Mullen who never responded.
Mrs. Krueger-Braneky of Swarthmore, described herself as business consultant, a mother of a three year old and a person of faith. She said she supported legalization of medical marijuana, a taxpayer bailout of the state’s pension funds, and a severance tax on natural gas drillers.
She also said she supported Gov. Wolf’s proposed tax plans and more money for education.
She said Pennsylvania had the most unequal funding for schools in the nation.
“I want good schools,” she said. “I want good schools for kids in Philadelphia. I want good schools for kids in Chester.
She said she opposed the sale of Pennsylvania’s publicly owned liquor stores, as they make money for the state.
She said that during holidays, people from Delaware and New Jersey sometimes shop for liquor in Pennsylvania due to that state-regulated pricing.
That claim drew murmurs of skepticism from the crowd.
She said she opposed school vouchers and a 401K-type plan for state workers.
She said she supported adding pre-school education.
Mrs. Esler, of Aston, who has described herself as a wife, mother, grandmother, certified optician, and Penn Delco school board director, and who makes her driver listen to K-LOVE, said she opposed a severance tax on natural gas drillers as long as the state’s corporate tax was 9.9 percent as she feared driving them out. She noted she would reconsider if the state were to cut the corporate tax to the rates of states that charge a high severance tax.
She said she supported privatizing the state stores.
She said she supported school vouchers.
“I don’t think any child should go to school in fear of his life,” she said. “I’m more concerned about the child than the government (agency).”
She noted that the pension crisis was drastically driving up property taxes and supported moving state workers and legislators to a 401-K type plan as most private businesses have. She pledged not to take a pension if elected.
She said she had not thought much about medical marijuana before entering the race in June and has heard pros and cons during her campaigning. She promised to keep an open mind.
In a question regarding more funding for public transportation, Mrs. Krueger-Braneky praised the gasoline tax increase passed by the legislature in 2013 and said she supported more funding for SEPTA while Mrs. Esler did the opposite. Mrs. Krueger-Braneky said public transportation was good for the environment while Mrs. Esler noted that people who have to use their cars are already hurting.
Neither candidate was familiar with a plan to have sewer treatment plants handle fracking and mine waste but both thought the idea was pretty disgusting.
In a question concerning the state’s policy of life without parole for certain crimes, Mrs. Esler thought those who committed heinous murders deserved it while Mrs. Krueger-Braneky was open to the idea of reform.
With regard to easing the state’s recently found-to-be unconstitutional rules for minor party ballot access, Mrs. Krueger-Braneky appeared to feel they shouldn’t be eased much while Mrs. Esler thought they should be.
“The two-party system is broken,” she said.
Both candidates express dislike for the property tax. Mrs. Krueger-Braneky supported the reforms proposed by Gov. Wolf. Mrs. Esler said she supported eliminating it but expressed concerns about existing legislation as it would punish school districts that had been fiscally responsible while rewarding those otherwise.
Mrs. Esler said spending reforms were the best solution. She noted that simply ending the prevailing wage mandate would have saved the Penn Delco School District $8 million in recent construction costs.
Mrs. Krueger-Braneky supported more education spending. Mrs. Esler noted that in the last 14 years, the state’s student population has dropped by 35,000 while school employees have increased by the same number.
Mrs. Esler said waste was rampant in Harrisburg. She said there was $2.2 billion in unemployment fraud during the last four years and between $2 billion and $4 billion in welfare fraud.
In a response to a question regarding the repeal of the “temporary” Johnstown Food tax of 1936 that to this day adds 18 percent to the sale of booze in Pennsylvania, Mrs. Esler pointed out that the taxes being sought by Gov. Wolf would be “temporary” in the same way while the property tax relief would soon end.
Regarding Mullen who was hiding, it was twice noted during the course of the forum that he actually ran away from questioners during his door to door campaigning.