Category Archives: Andy Dinniman

Change The System From In The System

I know more about how the GOP works.  Know what, though?  I am a committeeman, and it’s all still pretty vague to me.  Here’s an e-mail I just sent to the head of the Chester County GOP to get a handle on how best to send real uncommitted delegates to the national GOP convention.  It distills down my understanding of the system as it stands right now.  As I learn more, so will you!  Funny how the process of how we elect the president of a free nation needs distilling.

I seem to recall we nominated you as a delegate last week.  Who did we nominate along with you?
The reason for my question is I am really unhappy with the way the presidential primary system in our country works.  I tried talking to my state legislators about moving ours up so our votes could be meaningful, but that was like beating my head against a wall. [see post tags for list of who I tried to persuade on the matter]
Besides, I eventually came to the conclusion that simply moving ours forward is not so much a solution, as it makes a dysfunctional system worse.  It occurred to me, though, one way to at least draw attention to the issue would be to have Pennsylvania’s delegation to the GOP convention not only arrive uncommitted in theory, but in actual practice as well.
This is an idea already floated by former Senator Santorum, and I feel it is something on which we should follow up, even if there’s no real chance any more of our national convention being “brokered”.
What are your thoughts on this?
PA GOP delegates, you see, are technically sent as uncommitted.  The helpful op-ed from Rick Santorum I mention can be found here.  This is apparently not how it goes down in practice, though, and I need to learn more about how and why.  Skip, though, seems like a decent and rational fellow, and he is one of the two people the Chester County GOP has nominated to be delegates at the national convention.  I’m sure he can explain it to me, and could perhaps also be persuaded to join the cause.

PA Early Primary Left for Dead?

Josh at PA Ave. thinks so.  He goes on to speculate about whether or not a later PA primary may end up making ours MORE influential in case there is no clear winner by Valentine’s Day.  I think chances are better it moves up, even if those chances are poor.

What happened, to bring you up to speed, is things stalled in the Senate.  The House passed the measure, the Senate declined to bring it up for a vote, then the legislature recessed for the rest of the summer.  Please e-mail me how many other jobs that pay $80k a year– plus generous per diems– also have such generous vacation policies.

Conventional wisdom is that the Senate will be able to claim in the fall it is too late for them to move the primary forward.  There won’t be enough warning, they’ll say, for candidates to prepare to get their primary signature drives together.

We’ll see come mid-September.  In the meantime, here’s a list of state senators who can be fairly accused of not feeling very strongly about the right of Pennsylvanians to have a say in electing the future president of the United States.  Put another way, here’s a list of legislators who think their job is to represent the PA GOP and the elections bureaucracy, not their constituents.  These are the men in the GOP majority that run the relevant committee in the Senate:

Jeffry Piccola, Chairman: Western PA lawyer, 33rd degree Mason.  PA State Legislator pretty much is entire professional career.

“Citizen” Mike Folmer, Vice Chairman: He seems right on so much else– as evidenced by the post here— so one can only hope if he has the opportunity to make this right, he will forthrightly do so.

Joe Scarnati, Senate President Pro-Tempore: From legislative freshman to President Pro-Tempore in less than two terms.  How does one do that?  Not by putting voters first, I bet.  But who knows?

I’m going to e-mail Folmer to ask what we can do.  I suspect he is capable of listening to reason.  He also happens to represent a region next to where I actually live.

Primary Moves Up + PA Pollage

I should have gotten this news out to y’all earlier, but circumstances prevented me.  You see, I live a life of Reilly freelance existance which has recently kicked into high gear.  By that I mean I have much more business than I had before, to which I can only ascribe a beneficial business environment created by the anticipation of a Giuliani administration.  But that does mean less blogging…

The Pennsylvania House managed to find the time to pass House Bill 289, proposing we move our presidential primary up to Feb. 12.  This is great news, especially given all the recent agita over the state budget which caused the government to shut down for a day, although employees of the lottery and various casinos were kept working.  So we know our legislators know what *really* matters.

 You can find a roll call vote on 289 here.  I am disappointed to note my state representative voted against it after telling me a couple months ago she was favorably disposed towards the measure.  My fellow constituents in her district are encouraged to join me in asking her “What the heck, Carol?”

The next step is the Senate.  I will be e-mailing my state senator’s office today– that would be Dem. Andy Dinniman– and I hope all of you will do the same.  E-mail your Senators, I mean, not Andy.  I think Andy is on board on this one anyway.

This is obviously great news for voters.  We would actually have a say in the election of the next president of the United States, the campaigns will have to spend more time and money here, which is good for the economy.  The candidates will have to cultivate better relationships with local legislators, too, which will bring more star power to local races, which should increase political participation.

This is also good news for the Giuliani campaign, as evidenced by this recent poll which indicates Hizzoner is the prefered GOP candidate of 42% of PA GOPers.  The next closest candidate is Thompson at 16%.  In our Commonwealth, McCain still beats Romney as well at 10% to 6%.

In the places where election 2008 will be decided– PA, CA, FL, MI, OH– Giuliani is the obvious preference of GOP voters and runs competitively in general election matchups.  He also happens to have the most compelling story of executive conservative governance post-Reagan.  He also happens to have positions on most issues consistent with the positions of the average voter.

Of course, others are welcome to consider the Romney-bot, Amnesty McCain, or an actor who found the velvet coffin of the Senate too tiring.

Act 1 Post-Mortem

Tony Phyrillas has a nice eulogy for Act 1 on his blog.  Link here.  [HT to Bob Guzzardi’s frequent and helpful e-mails]

In it he lists the folks in the General Assembly who voted for this scheme.  Tony recommends we do to them what we did to their colleagues back in 2006.  While I am with Tony generally, I think Carole Rubley, who is my state rep, has earned a stay of political execution.  She voted against the pay raise, and voted against using state money to help build stadiums in Philly and Pittsburgh.  Then the state GOP rewarded her by withdrawing their support for her run for the state Senate seat currently held by Dinniman.

So anyone looked at askance by the state GOP is aces in my book, her Act 1 vote notwithstanding.

Now that Act 1 is out of the way as a potential roadblock to moving up our primary, she is also a supporter of helping Pennsylvanians have a significant say in who the major party presidential nominees are.  So read Tony’s entry, and take his advice.  I especially like how he points out what a failure Fast Eddie is turning out to be as Governor.  His endorsement was apparently political poison is last week’s primary.

Just don’t take his adivce vis a vis Rep. Rubley!

Moving the Primary; Grassroots Update II

Representative Matt Baker – R:  He is, again, the GOP chair of the State Government Committee.  His office has been kind enough to send me a detailed history of the endeavor to move up PA’s quirkily irrelevant presidential primary, along with a summary of the various pending bills addressing the issue.  I have reproduced that letter here.

We at PA for Hizzoner have learned there is a bill heading to committee soon– House Bill 289– which would move up our Commonwealth’s primary in presidential years to February 5.  Representative Baker did not indicate whether or not he supports it, or one of the other bills moving the primary to dates in March, or if he supports no move at all.  So all in all he has upgraded his conduct from mildly combative and disagreeable, to helpful and opaque.

Sen. Andy Dinniman – D:  My state senator finally got back to me and said he does support moving our presidential primary forward, but says the GOP caucus in the Senate is uninterested in moving the process forward, so he doesn’t think it is going to happen.  He did not share any reason why I had to contact his office no less than six times to get an answer.

I have also decided to start a scorecard for all the people I have contacted, and if you want to deliver me information on how other legislators feel about the matter, send it in to karlub at yahoo dot com.  If the list gets long enough I will keep it updated and posted here.

 Again, this is an issue with bipartisan appeal.  It is also the right thing to do.  Finally, it helps Giuliani.  He shows well here, and Pennsylvania has a lot of delegates.  Of course, the vicissitudes of politics may very well hoist him on his own petard if PA becomes Fred Thompson country or something.  So the partisan reasons for my support should not turn off anyone who is simply interested in running an actual functioning representative democracy accountable to the people.

Moving the Primary; Grassroots Report

In the interest of encouraging our sclerotic commonwealth government to entertain the revolutionary idea of allowing us a meaningful vote for president, I have been contacting various legislators on the issue.  Here is a report:

Representative Carole Rubley – R:  She is my representative in the General Assembly.  Initially against moving up our primary, as we both thought a Feb. 5 primary date would make candidates try and secure signatures to get on the primary ballot during the holidays.  Turns out moving our primary to Feb. 5 would make that period run from election day to Black Friday instead.  When informed of this, she said she could be persuaded to support such an initiative.

Senator Andy Dinniman – D:  My state senator.  Have called three times, and sent three e-mails.  Cannot be bothered to express his opinion, or his staff is incompetent.  Not sure which.  Given the fact I am actually one of his constituents, and given the responsiveness of Representative Rubley, I find this somewhat shocking.  I hear local conservatives may have their eye on making his ejection a priority in 2008.  He has done a good job here of making sure I join them.  It’s one thing to disagree with me.  It is quite another to outright ignore a constituent.  You heard it hear first:  He will be looking for a different job in a couple of years.  I actually think I know who might take it…

Representative Matt Baker – R:  The GOP chair on the State Government Committee.  To my initial inquiry, said he would respond via snail-mail.  This got my hackles up a little, as it felt like a brush-off.  I said the issue wasn’t that complicated, so why couldn’t he tell me his stand via e-mail?

He countered it was indeed complicated, as the school boards and party apparatus are against it.  I explained how we could bifurcate the primary for the school boards, and this would not be all that expensive.  For example, this year only a single school board invoked Act 1’s tax referendum.  I also explained the move would not mean getting signatures during Christmas and Chanukah.  He has yet to respond further.

Representative Babbette Josephs – D:  The democrat (hence majority) chair on the State Government Committee.  Her office remains silent.  I only contacted her twice, though, so her unresponsiveness is not as egregious as Dinniman’s, especially since I am not her constituent.

Please let me know how any of you are doing with your inquiries.  I want to cast a meaningful vote for president, and mean to do my best to make it happen.  I hope some of you can join me.  This is, after all, only about the most important function of representative democracy.  One would think a little thing like that would be something people can get behind.

Update on Rubley / Primary Post

An e-mailer who knows way more about election law than I do tells me the holiday objection and weather objections to moving up the primary may be red herrings as well.  A February 5 primary would make the petition period November 6-27.  This means no Christmas or Chanukah conflict.  This also means the period would include election day.  What more could candidates want than being able to get petition signatures at polling places on election day, and then on Black Friday at shopping malls?

The election people may object as they have to do some extra work around Christmas.  But at least now they have President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Passover to themselves for the first time in ages.  And again, am I supposed to let the convenience of election boards hold my right to representation hostage?

What’s really going on here?  Could my conspiracy theories be right?  That both major parties don’t want to move it forward because the voters and the insiders disagree on who should be the presidential nominees?  I have asked Rep. Rubley for comment.  I am also in contact with Representative Baker.  Democrats Babbette Josephs and Andy Dinniman are both ignoring me, and they have no idea I am a Republican.  Make of that what you will.

I have revised the form letter below to account for this.