Monthly Archives: March 2007

Tangled Act 1 & the PA Primary

OK.  I am learning there’s a reason that A)  Nobody knows anything about local politics, and B)  The national parties amply reward those who do.

So one of the reasons the PA GOP is against moving up the primary is because it would shorten the election season for challengers to campaign against new democrat incumbents.

An even bigger reason, though, is that with the advent of Act 1 property tax relief school boards need to put prospective tax increases over the rate of inflation to the voters for approval during the primary election.  Moving up the primary date effectively means school boards will have to decide, for example, in the fall of 2006 what money they may need to ask for on the prospective February 2007 primary ballot for the school year that ends in 2008.  Then new school board members might get elected, and they have to live with whatever budgetary decisions their predecessors have made.  Get it?  No?  Join the club.

Turns out, though, it doesn’t really matter in the long run.  You see, according to the Pennsyltucky Politics post here, 210 of Pennsylvania’s 501 school districts have already asked to be exempt.

So, we can’t move up the primary because it will mess with the way school boards manage their finances and ask for higher budgets, except for the fact that about half of them are already fixing to arrange it so they can ask for however much they want, regardless of their constituents.

So it seems we are moving towards a system where A)  Rendell gets to claim he provided property tax relief, B)  As many school districts as possible are going to try to get around it, C)  Districts who do get nominal assistance have to surrender some curricula control to the state, D)  Voters end up having little say in how much their taxes get raised, and E) Primary voters have no say in who becomes president of the US, but F)  Through straw polls the respective state party leaderships may get a say in who becomes president.

Nice!

PA Quinnipiac Poll: Rudy Still Wins, Watch Out For Obama

All sorts of interesting polling data here, a Quinnipiac poll of Pennsylvania voters.  The takeaway points are:

1)  Rudy still has a sizable lead, although Thompson does eat a little into his support.  A staggering majority of voters admit they need to learn more about Thompson, so his potential influence is still unknown.

2)  Giuliani is still the only potential GOP candidate reliably polling ahead of potential democrat opponents.

3)  Clinton is consolidating support in the democrat field, as acknowledged in the summary.  Look closely, though:  Conventional wisdom is the Philadelphia suburbs are key in our elections.  Urban voters and upstate voters are pretty predictable.  The Philadelphia suburbs have a large concentration of potential swing voters, though.  Rudy still beats Hillary here.  Interestingly, though, Obama beats Rudy here.  This is despite the fact the statewide trend is the reverse, in that overall Clinton shows better against Giuliani than Obama.  I believe the trend in the Philadelphia suburbs is the one that will prevail in the state overall.

Finally, Quinnipiac’s summary says Pennsylvania voters appear uninterested in moving up our Commonwealth’s primary.  This is an odd analysis on their part, as the poll shows 42 to 28 preference for moving the primary up, with 36% of voters saying they would be more likely to vote in a primary if it were moved up.  How can this be interpreted as “Voters show little interest in moving up primary”?

After all, over 77% of registered voters say they have voted in the primary despite its irrelevancy.  If most of them don’t say they are “more likely” to vote in a primary because they are already pretty certain they’ll vote in it anyway, how many additional people have to become more likely to participate in order to show support according to Quinnipiac’s analysis?

Besides, this begs the question.  I don’t care if less people than can fit in my powder room vote in our relic of a primary.  I still want the primary to actually matter!

More State GOP Support: Charlie Roberts

The other news from the piece linked here, at least it was news to me, is that Charlie Roberts has officially endorsed Rudy Giuliani.  He is a committeeman and activist from Bethlehem Township, and this certainly bodes well for the campaign.  It seems Giuliani has been racking up support in PA from party leadership elements that one, perhaps, would have expected to go to more insider candidates.  Especially McCain.

McCain may feel like this is still “spring training” , as he was saying a month ago and reiterated on a blogger conference call yesterday, but this cycle has started.  And the Phillies know all about how a crappy April can sink you for the rest of the season.  [see, politics and baseball again]

I don’t know much about committeeman Roberts, except for the fact he is a Specter guy.  So the day after Steve Forbes joins the Giuliani campaign he lines up a local supporter of Arlen Specter.  Giuliani’s tent is big, and if I were the other GOP candidates I would be pretty sure at this point that his early polling is not a name recognition hiccup.  It is, rather, a confirmation that Giuliani isthe clear frontrunner in the race, able to garner support from diverse constituencies within the GOP with his leadership and his message.

Will Pennsylvania Emulate Iowa?

Apparently the state GOP is considering a straw poll here in PA to officially determine which way the wind is blowing in the presidential primary. [HT Grassroots PA, although it is a Drobnyk piece in The Morning Call]

I imagine this has something to do with the fact that every GOP presidential candidate that beat the Pennsylvania bushes for ducats last week found the response underwhelming.  Except, of course, Rudy Giuliani.  I also imagine they want to encourage candidates to pay attention to the state despite the fact our primary currently will be a political vestigial tail taking place in April.

Interestingly, the reason the primary may not move up from April is because the state GOP is against it, as that will make it more difficult for them unseat new democrat incumbents in state elections.  See this older post from Tony Phyrillas on exactly why that is.  I suppose the state GOP wants the best of both worlds:  Attention from presidential candidates while simultaneously protecting their best interests locally.  I still need to learn more about this before forming a completely coherent opinion.

Charlie Roberts, GOP committeeman and activist from Bethlehem Township,  said he felt a straw poll would give “the average guy a chance” to have his voice heard in the primary process if the state GOP is successful in persuading all of us it is a bad idea to move up our presidential primary.  If by “average guy” he means the state GOP leadership, I guess he’s right.  If he means “nobody bloggers who pay far more attention to politics than most people but have no political connections and no money with which to make political donations” then I believe he may be mistaken.

I am open to learning in more detail why moving up our primary is a bad idea as it relates to promoting the conservative agenda on a local basis.  But even if I were convinced I would still be disappointed as I have never in my life cast a vote that matters in a presidential primary.  As a politically engaged conservative this stings.  I have never, ever been all that thrilled with GOP presidential nominations post-Reagan, and I am too young to have ever voted for him anyway.

Does Bob Asher = Alwaleed bin Talal? [UPDATE: Not Really]

I just had coffee with a gentleman named Bob Guzzardi.  He is a very influential conservative activist in Pennsylvania, most active in the southeast, but he also travels all over the state speaking to fellow activists.  He is financially influential as well.  He was a big part of the Pat Toomey movement that almost overthrew Arlen Specter in the GOP primary, and also one of the conservative influences behind the recent anti-corruption and anti-incumbent movement locally.

Bob is not unreceptive to Mayor Giuliani’s campaign.  Actually, to me he seemed very receptive.  There was one thing that gave him a great deal of pause, though, and that involves Bob Asher.  He is our national GOP state committeeman.  He also happens to be a convicted felon.

Some of you may remember Bud Dwyer.  He made national news when during a press conference he shot himself through the mouth– on TV!– after being convicted of a panapoly of corruption crimes.  An unintended consquence of that tragedy was the release of “Hey Man, Nice Shot” by the band Filter, although they claim it’s a song about any public suicide, not Mr. Dwyer’s specifically.

What many of you may not remember is there was another man convicted in that corruption conspiracy, which involved a scheme to elicit hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal political contributions from a California company attempting to secure a no-bid contract to perform accounting and account recovery services for the Commonwealth.  That man was Bob Asher.

Now, I will not debate here the wisdom of the jury’s conviction of Mr. Asher on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, racketeering, and perjury.  Asher claims he did nothing wrong to this day.

Mr. Guzzardi, though, feels that any presidential candidate who consorts with a man convicted of these charges will instantly lose the support of the politically active conservative grassroots here in Pennsylvania.  Those activistists are indeed conservative, but they are virulently opposed to corruption and cronyism in the state GOP as well.  Former GOP speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate Robert Jubelirer lost his primary race in 2006, and that was at least in part effected by Mr. Guzzardi and this conservative grassroots network.

Do I agree with Mr. Guzzardi here?  Well, I aspire to consistency in matters such as this.  So I would encourage the Giuliani campaign to take a step back from Bob Asher.  Besides, Asher is merely representing a shadow movement within the Ridge machine that now wants to try and play all sides.  So I would recommend in future that Mayor Giuliani decline Asher money much like he declined Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s ten million dollars in the wake of 9/11.  In both cases the money could end up doing some good.  But you do not want to be indebted in any way to people like that.

UPDATE:  After reading this post, it occurs to me I did not do a very good job of putting myself in Mayor Giuliani’s shoes.  Clearly, I have a personal antipathy for Bob Asher.  Equally clearly, though, the Giuliani campaign is in no position to decline the support of the PA GOP national committeeman.  In fact, it would be outright foolish for them to do so, and they are lucky to have his support as he is rather influential.  After all, were he to choose to support one of the other leading candidates, would they say “No thanks”?

Prominent Republicans from all over our big tent coalition are going to need to express a preference for the GOP nomination eventually.  Individually, they may differ on a range of issues, and come from a wide range of backgrounds, from connected insiders like Asher to insurgent outsiders like Guzzardi.  You can probably guess which side of that debate I am on.  That does not mean, though, they cannot support the same candidate.  In fact, that is the precise sort of unifying influence we hope a candidate with leadership will have.

For example, would it be impossible for Arlen Specter and Pat Toomey to endorse the same GOP candidate?  Of course not.  Does that mean Arlen and Pat have changed in any significant way?   Not necessarily.  Although you could probably speculate they have different reasons for coming to the decisions that they do.  So, upon relflection, I can say I would very much rather have Asher in my corner than bin Talal.

Your Host on Blogtalk Radio W/Eric Dondero

If anyone is interested I will be advocating for Mayor Giuliani on the “Libertarian Politics Live” blogtalk radio program hosted by Eric Dondero.  It is tonight at 10:30pm EST.  Link here.

Jim Dyke, one of the campaign media directors, was supposed to do it.  But he got called away at the last minute, and will be in an airplane when the show airs.  As I am a former libertarian, it was deemed an acceptable risk to have me pinch hit.

See, I told you politics was like baseball.

Wish me luck.  On the one hand, I like to talk, have lots of opinions roughly commensurate with those of the Giuliani campaign, and know lots of smarty-pants words so tend to work well extemporaneously.  On the down side, I tend to get stage fright.  So we’ll see how it goes!

UPDATE:  I think it went well.  Gentlemen all.  Thanks Eric and Andre!  And I got to share some time with a real politician, Jack Brandenburg, state house republican and general GOP mover and shaker in the great state of Michigan.  He was a part of Romney’s leadership team in Michigan, and recently jumped that ship for Giuliani.  He mentioned on the show he was supporting Romney as a favor to the speaker of the Michigan House, and had always said he would back Giuliani if he decided to run.

This Is A Criticism?

From the Inky, a luecturer at Yale makes the case against Rudy Giuliani here.  One of his criticisms?

“As mayor, Giuliani fielded his closest aides like a fast and sometimes brutal hockey team, micromanaging and bludgeoning city agencies and even bodies that weren’t under his control, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Board of Education.”

This was a bad thing?  In New York City?