↓ Archives ↓

Posts Tagged → election

Three seats open on the PA Supreme Court, three women to fill them

Rebecca Warren, Cheryl Allen, and Anne Covey are three outstanding people. All are candidates for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. All are attorneys. Cheryl and Anne broke gender barriers to become judges; Cheryl may have broken a skin color barrier. Rebecca is breaking a philosophical barrier that seeks to keep Constitutionalists out of jurisprudence. Note the bizarre role of the PA Bar Association in this election.

All three women I’ve met and spoken to at length, each more than one time. All three impress the heck out of me. They are real people, plenty smart, and plenty experienced. The citizens of our Commonwealth deserve to have these kinds of minds running our legal branch.

I’m voting for all three of these amazing, inspiring women on Tuesday, which is Primary Election Day. Hopefully, you will, too.

Risk & Sacrifice separate grass roots activists from insulated party professionals

In 2009, like many other citizens shocked at the sudden, dramatic changes and corruption re-shaping America, I greatly increased my political activity.

Part of a grass-roots wave of citizen activists that year, I ran in a four-way US Congressional primary.  It’s a long story, and in short I ended up liking one of my opponents so much I hoped he would win.  Along the way, several people closely affiliated with the Republican Party tried to dissuade me from running, assuring me that a certain sitting state senator would beat the incumbent Democrat, congressman Tim Holden.

Our campaign still netted about 25% of the vote in a four-way race, which is solid performance, especially considering that one of the candidates had run before, one was a sitting state senator, one was a well-known political activist, and we had gotten a late start and spent little money.

In the general election, Holden crushed the Republican state senator who won that primary race by 400 votes.

Fast forward to January 2012, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejects a new, heavily gerrymandered Republican redistricting plan.  At the heart of the court’s decision was the “egregious” and grossly unnatural shape of the 15th state senate district, where I happened to then reside, and still do now, too.

The PA Supreme Court called the new district “the iron cross,” and indeed it looked like a cross shape and was iron clad against upstart citizens asserting themselves in political races reserved for establishment members only.

(My current congressional district is the same, with only about ten blocks of Harrisburg City included in what is otherwise a large, rural district reaching the Maryland state line. Guess who lives in that ten-block area. Yes. Me. )

Given my previous public interest in running for the 15th senate seat, it was obvious that excluding our family’s home from that district was purposeful: It was an attempt by political bosses to artificially silence and thwart an otherwise good candidate who does not see his job as serving political bosses.

The court’s ruling allowed a handful of us to wage a tremendous grass roots 11th hour campaign for that senate seat, getting our start two days into the three-week ballot petition process.

Although we did not win, we did give the political bosses a hell of a challenge by winning a huge number of votes with only pennies spent.

A year later, York businessman Scott Wagner beat those same political bosses for his state senate seat, in a historic write-in campaign against a million dollars of party money. The race, and its remarkable result, drew national attention.  Clearly the voters responded to Wagner’s grass roots campaign in the face of a party juggernaut.

This evening I spent some time speaking with an NRA staffer.  We met at the Great American Outdoor Show, which is the former Eastern Outdoors Show and now NRA-run at the PA Farm Show complex, and he gave me an opportunity to vent a bit and explain my frustration with the NRA.

To wit: An increasing number of grass roots activists now perceive the NRA as merely an arm of the Republican Party establishment political bosses.  The same bosses who oppose conservative/ independent candidates like me and Wagner.

See, back in 2012, I was the only NRA member in that three-way primary race (to be fair, one candidate had been an NRA member for several months, which could never, ever be construed as a political move, even though he was the candidate selected by the same political bosses who created a safe district for him to run in), but the NRA refused to get involved.

If there was any endorsement that was deserved in that race, it would have been the NRA endorsing their one and only member, and a decades-long member at that – Me. (Firearm Owners Against Crime did endorse the one pro-Second Amendment candidate, thank you very much, Kim Stolfer)

And then tonight it dawned on me on the way home from the Farm Show complex…two basic but defining experiences separate grass roots activists and candidates from the party establishment: Risk taking and making sacrifices.

By definition, grass roots candidates take many risks and make many sacrifices, both of which are seen as signs of weakness by the establishment.

Self-starters motivated by principle and passion for good government, the grass roots candidates and activists have to reach into their own pockets to get any traction, and they often risk their jobs and businesses in challenging the establishment power structure.  To get invitations to events, they have to reach out and ask, knock on doors, make phone calls.  They have to cobble together campaigns made of volunteers and pennies, and they usually are grossly under-funded now matter how successful they are.

On the other hand, party establishment candidates have the ready-made party machine in their sails from the get-go.  Money, experienced volunteers, paid staffers, refined walking lists, the establishment can muster a tremendous force in a relatively short time.  Establishment candidates also enjoy artificial party endorsements (formal or informal) that give them access to huge pots of party campaign funds or a leg-up in other ways.

Establishment groups like NRA view grass roots candidates the same way as the party establishment views them- trouble makers.

In short, few if any establishment candidates put in their own money to drive their campaigns, take risks, or make sacrifices in their pursuit of elected office. Everything is done for them by other people.

So long as party establishment staff and officials and groups like NRA maintain this artificial lifestyle and view, this alternate reality, this disconnect between the grass roots voters and the party that needs their votes will continue and deepen.

So long as the voters see grass roots activists and candidates struggling against an unfair arrangement that is created solely for the preservation of political power and profit, they will continue to migrate away from the party and support people they can relate to the most.

An elder in my family once told me that taking risks and making sacrifices build character and lead to success, and although a 26-year career full of both risks and sacrifices has often left me wondering at the truth of that claim, I increasingly see it bearing out in electoral politics.

The voters are not dumb; they can see the pure American earnestness in their fellow citizen fighting City Hall.  They respect risk-taking and sacrifices made in the pursuit of saving America.  That is a strong character which no establishment candidate can or ever will have.

Those political parties and groups that ignore that strong American character do so at their own risk, because they will lose the supporters they need to be successful.

 

What is in a political “party”?

The Communist Party.

The Democrat Party.

The Republican Party.

What is the difference between these three and many other active political parties?

Their party agenda is what defines them.

Their cause, their unifying principles, their policies and political platforms, these are the things that separate political parties from one another.

All political parties have their own structure, their functionaries, their own bureaucracies, lawyers, and bosses.  All have become self-interested organisms, influenced by a constellation of special interest groups.  At a certain point, the party exists simply for its own benefit.

But what happens when these parties begin to bleed into one another, when they begin to blend across their boundaries and blur their boundaries?  When they lose their distinctive appeal?

When political parties lose their way, do they lose their reason for being?

Although my own Republican Party has pledged overall to serve the taxpayers, plenty of fellow Republicans hold personal and official positions contrary to the interests of taxpayers, voters, and citizens.  Their positions are subtle, often only visible in the important background decisions they make.

Many times in recent history, the Republican Party has been used as a weapon to silence voices of political activists who sought to return the brand to its more basic principles and its more elementary purpose, which would naturally be defined as the cause of liberty.

It is my own hope and the hope of many other dedicated citizens that the Republican Party, also known as the establishment, will stay out of any upcoming elections around Central Pennsylvania.

It is one thing for a candidate to ask, say, State Rep. Ron Marsico for his individual support, or to ask individual party committee members for their support.  It is entirely another thing for the Dauphin County Republican Committee to endorse a candidate so that the Pennsylvania Republican Party can spend money to challenge a Republican candidate’s nomination ballots, because he (or she) is too independent-minded.  Or too “conservative.”  Or not enough in the pocket of some party boss.

My experience tells me that this controlling, anti-freedom behavior has happened so often that many political activists are inclined to become political Independents, which means that the Republican base, the most passionate Republican voters, become driven away from the party and become less interested in its success.  We saw this with the past election, where former governor Tom Corbett had little street game.  The people with the most passion were not going to do door-to-door for Corbett.

Even more worrisome is if the one-time Republican becomes an Independent candidate, or mounts a write-in campaign.  Sure, these efforts may hurt the Republican Party’s nominee, but if the party didn’t want that independent-minded candidate in the first place, what right does anyone have to expect him to stay loyal to them?

Put another way, if some political boss doesn’t want a certain candidate to get elected, then what expectation does that political boss have of earning the support of the candidate he opposed?

Put another way, if you don’t want John to get elected, then why would John want you or your ally to get elected?

Do the Democrats have this problem?  Sure.  But that political party has become overrun with foreign policy extremism and anti-capitalism.  Wealth redistribution is completely contrary to American founding principles, but it is nevertheless now a core of the Democrat Party.

That is sad, because at one time, the Democrats just wanted more opportunity for everyone.  Now they want to take from one person and give to another person, which is theft.

But I am not a Democrat, so this is not my political problem.

My problem is with so-called Republicans who actually share a lot in common with liberal Democrats, but who stay in the Republican Party.

There are different ways a Republican can share values with a liberal.  For example, a Republican staffer who believes in the supremacy of  bureaucracy….despite bureaucracy being the enemy of freedom and individual liberty.  Working from within the party, these functionaries stamp their own flavor on policy and principle alike, often softening edges and blurring lines, giving the voters fewer choices, more government intervention, and ultimately less liberty.

The same could be said for certain “Republican” lobbyists, whose connections to money, political funding, cause them to promote bad policies such as Common Core, which strikes deep at the heart of liberty.  They would rather ally with liberals than support a conservative Republican candidate.  People like this have great influence in the Republican Party.  They influence its agenda, and the kind of decisions the apparatus supports.

If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.  I myself will stand for liberty, freedom, and opportunity for everyone.  If that puts me and others like me at odds with some political party, then that says everything a voter needs to know about that party: It does not have your interests at heart.

I am a Republican because I hold old-fashioned, traditional American values, the kind of values that created America and kept her great for so long.  I will vote for and support only those candidates who hold similar values.  Regardless of what a party spokeswoman may say, a Republican Party that has no conservativism in it isn’t really a Republican Party any longer, is it?

Hey, Obama, a storm is coming this Tuesday…

Mister Obama, your War on America, your deliberate opening of our southern border to whomever and whatever disease can walk, fly, or drive across it, your profiling and targeting of politically active citizens and those on your “enemies list” with government agencies like the IRS, NSA, EPA, Homeland Security, and others, have finally caught up with you.

You have ignited a righteous firestorm, and this coming Tuesday, Election Day, that storm is coming back atcha, as Americans of all colors, religions, and regions wake up and realize that you are doing everything possible to destroy America.  You and your allies have used democracy to achieve non-democratic ends.

Well, democracy is not a suicide pact.  There are limits, and you have crossed them all.

Here is a song dedicated to you this Tuesday: You Can Kiss My Country Ass

Harrisburg politics as usual from someone we should not expect it from

“Politics as usual.”

That is a statement, a curse, a wry observation, an accusation, a vexation to the free citizen, and most surely, it is a threat to good government.

Wherever there is “politics as usual,” we find double standards, empty promises, hypocrisy, a lack of forethought, an absence of careful or diligent thought, and an act of putting political gain ahead of citizen gain. And please don’t kid yourself that only “their” political party does it.  Both main political parties engage in politics as usual, and even some of the fringe political parties are awash in it, because for their single issue cause to succeed they must overlook tons of contrary evidence to keep selling their purist issue.

This past week saw a classic example of politics as usual, and it disappointed me, because the person who engaged in it ought to know better.  I certainly believe that he is better than that, and that he has a capacity to act bigger than his silly politicized statement.

What happened was that Governor Tom Corbett line-item-vetoed some “legislative” funding (that is taxpayer dollars used by the legislature for their office coffee, cars, walking-around-money, and parking on Capitol Hill), and state senator Rob Teplitz claimed that it would damage Harrisburg’s recovery plan.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, because that money vetoed out of the budget belongs to taxpayers and has zero to do with Harrisburg’s recovery.  Only an overly creative imagination can find some vague link between the loss of cheap cash for legislators and the loss of economic advance for Harrisburg City.

Making it worse is that Senator Teplitz voted against the state budget to begin with.  If he votes against something, how can he then claim that someone else shouldn’t vote against it, too?

The simple reason that Teplitz said this is for cheap political gain, a lame attempt to damage Corbett among voters in Harrisburg City. This qualifies as politics as usual, and it is destructive of the political process because it cheapens the political process.  It dumbs it down.  Instead of talking about Big Important Issues, we end up talking about nonsense that has nothing to do with anything material or substantial, and voters walk away from it.

When voters walk away from the political process, America is damaged.  Maximum voter participation is needed for the nation to function properly.

Teplitz should know better than to do this.  He is a bright guy, and I think he is a good guy.  Although principled, he is overwhelmingly partisan, and that is why this kind of silly waste of time came naturally to him.  Like all other partisans, Democrat and Republican, Teplitz only really cares about the party enterprise.  He forgets about the citizens, their Constitutional rights, their personal money they remove from their pockets and place in the state coffers.

It is no secret I hope to be the Republican nominee in 2016 for the 15th PA senate district.  If he runs for re-election then, Teplitz will be my opponent.  I have no problem publicly singing his praises where he has earned them, and I can attest to several good things he has done for me and other people in the district.  If Teplitz has had one strength so far, that I have seen, one truly laudable characteristic, it has been his willingness to wade into bad government, force a meeting or two, confront recalcitrant bureaucrats, and represent well a constituent’s interests. That is a real skill, and we should all recognize it.

That is why Teplitz disappoints so badly with his spurious attack on Corbett.  I just know he can be bigger and better than this politics as usual.

 

Cantor loss is shocking only to those who are not paying attention

Yes, yes, yes, Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) was an important man, high up, famous, powerful…blah blah blah.  And he lost his five-million dollar primary campaign to a grass roots candidate who spent a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Hey, Republican establishment folks, are you now paying attention?

Do you maybe now understand what so many of your own voters have been telling you for years?

To wit: America is worth saving, and it can only be saved by breaking from the creeping Big Government identity of “moderate” Republicans.  That means No on amnesty, No on gun control, No on universal background checks aka gun owners database, No on ObamaDon’tCare.

In other words, Hell Yes on freedom and liberty.

Cantor failed on these issues, and his voters punished him for it.

While the NRA lost out to Gun Owners of America in this race, probably no group was more closely identified with Cantor, and the Republican establishment around him, than the Republican Jewish Coalition, a nice group I have had some exposure to.  Sadly, RJC mishandled Cantor’s loss in a gargantuan way that may spell the organization’s descent or even demise.  In many ways, Tuesday night’s RJC is emblematic of the larger Republican establishment, which also seems determined to drive itself over a cliff.

Late Tuesday night, 11:26 PM, to be exact, the RJC issued a brief lamentation about Cantor’s electoral loss and how great Cantor was and blah blah blah.

Did RJC acknowledge that REPUBLICAN voters had spoken?  Nope.  Did RJC congratulate the winner, economics professor David Brat?  Nope.  Did RJC publicly stake out hopes for Brat to follow closely in Cantor’s pro-Israel shoes?  Nope.

Instead, RJC came across as soundly rejecting the wisdom of REPUBLICAN voters in Cantor’s former district, and failing to acknowledge the Big Government issues of a) gun (citizen) control and b) illegal aliens, who are destroying American democracy, disenfranchising American voters, and robbing American taxpayers.

RJC may be a small group with great intentions, but Tuesday night, they were the lost voice for the entire Republican Establishment.  And it shows just how out of touch the establishment is with the American citizen.  Every conservative activist who reads the RJC statement will wonder what the hell is in the DC Beltway water, because it sure isn’t anything they’d want to drink.

The folks who ran and funded Cantor’s campaign, who issued public statements for him, who stood by him when he wafted in the wind on critical issues, and who bewailed his loss, are incredibly out of touch with the actual voters, taxpayers, citizens, moms, dads, students, and out-of-work-car-won’t-run Americans who are slowly, surely, awakening to the crisis we are in, and who are not not shocked that Cantor lost.

But the experts…they are shocked.

What does this portend or mean to Pennsylvanians? Here is one suggestion: Political parties are supposed to represent the voters and stand for principles. Once the PA GOP returns to that model, winning elections will be easy.

Corbett’s Ten Percent challenge

Looking at the statewide vote results (votes Corbett received compared to votes Jim Cawley received) and at counties where Bob Guzzardi appeared on the ballot opposite governor Tom Corbett, it appears there’s about ten percent of Republican voters who are seriously disaffected with Corbett.

These are the voters who could not bring themselves to vote for Corbett, even while voting for other Republicans, or who actively wrote in alternative names.  York County has a surprisingly high number of about 25%.

Are these the angry Penn Staters, whose murky ghost has been hovering in Corbett’s background since the fictional Louis Freeh report sank the beloved institution known as Joe Paterno, and took down his creation (PSU), too?  Corbett seemed to join in the blaming of Paterno for the predations of Jerry Sandusky, or at least his actions and statements left many Penn Staters wondering if he did. 

Or are these voters associated with some of Corbett’s better known “Oopsy” moments, like personally standing at a lectern, reading glasses and pencil in hand, roll-call strong arming the Republican State Committee into reluctantly endorsing Steve Welch for US Senate. Republican voters later overwhelmingly rejected the very urban, effete Welch, and embraced muddy boots, down to earth coal miner Tom Smith.

Maybe these are voters affiliated with people who were once close to Corbett, but who did not see ‘promises kept’ at the personal level.

It’s impossible now to know exactly who these voters are, and whether or not they can be brought back into the Republican fold in time for November’s general election.  Plenty of polls, voter surveys, and canvassing are going to occur in the coming weeks, in search of the necessary mix of voters to get Corbett into his second term.

One thing is for sure: In Democrat-heavy Pennsylvania, Corbett wins only with a fully unified Republican party behind him. Right now, he’s got real work to do to achieve that.

Vote!

Today is Primary Election Day in Pennsylvania, and in many other states, too.

I’m working a poll for state senate candidate Scott Wagner, an independent-minded Republican. Across America volunteers like me are working to get fresh faces and new people into office, so we get better government.

Good luck to all those good candidates today!

Voter Access, Public Funding of Private Elections…

I so totally agree with the gist of this opinion piece by our local newspaper of record, the Patriot News:

By Matt Zencey, May 15, 2014

Tuesday is Primary Election Day, and every year when it rolls around, I’m reminded of this unpleasant fact: Tax-paying Pennsylvanians who don’t belong to a political party are forced to help pay for an election in which they are not allowed vote.

You can’t vote for candidates Tuesday unless you are a registered member of a political party that has candidates on the ballot.

I wrote a column last year complaining about this injustice that is inflicted on politically independent Pennsylvanians. It’s a system that isn’t going to change anytime soon, because the power-brokers who make the rules are the same people who benefit from taxpayer subsidies of their party’s candidate selection process.

In last year’s column, I wondered whether this arrangement violates Pennsylvania constitution’s requirement of “free and equal” elections. What’s “equal” about an election, funded by tax dollars, where a duly registered voter has no say in which candidate wins?

Now it’s true, as I wrote back then, that the U.S. Supreme Court clearly says political parties have a First Amendment right to determine who may vote in “their” political primaries.

The question is whether political parties [THAT ARE PRIVATE ENTITIES] have a First Amendment right to force you [THE PUBLIC] to pay for their candidate selection process.

I don’t think so.

If you are going to participate in a primary election that you help pay for, you are forced to affiliate with a political party. That violates your First Amendment rights.

Pennsylvania’s closed primary election delivers a tax-subsidized government benefit to two preferred political organizations – the Democratic and Republican parties.

All of us are paying so they can pick their candidate who will enjoy a huge government privilege – one of two guaranteed spots on the general election ballot. (Pennsylvania law also makes it extraordinarily difficult for a third-party to get its candidates on the ballot.)

It doesn’t have to be this way.

California recently adopted a much fairer primary election system by voter initiative.

All candidates of all parties appear on a ballot available to all registered voters within the relevant district. The top two vote getters move on to the general election in the fall. The winners could be two Republicans, or two Democrats, one of each party. A so-called minor party candidate might even win a spot on the fall ballot.

This way, taxpayers are not forced to subsidize a process that’s stacked in favor of two political parties. And it’s clearly constitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court has explicitly saidthat a non-partisan primary that is open to all voters and allocates spots on the general election ballot falls squarely within the First Amendment.

But good luck getting such a system here in Pennsylvania. Unlike in California, the poo-bahs who hold political power in Pennsylvania have denied voters the power to pass their own laws by statewide initiative.

On this one, we have to try to persuade legislators and the governor to do the right thing and reform a system that has put them in power and keeps them there.

I’m not holding my breath.

Matt Zencey is Deputy Opinion Editor of Pennlive and The Patriot-News. Email mzencey@pennlive.com and on Twitter @MattZencey.

http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/05/is_pennsylvania_closed_primary.html

Is it time to recall PA AG Kane?

In 2012, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Kathleen Kane campaigned on being fresh, new, unconnected to party politics.  She challenged the ultimate Republican insider, and crushed him by a good 15%.  Kane became Pennsylvania’s first Democrat AG only because so many Republican voters defected from the GOP and voted for Kane.

Within six months into her four-year tenure, signs were evident that she was not this politically dispassionate, politically disconnected professional and fair-minded arbiter she represented herself to be.

Rather, it became clear that she was politically correct (dogmatically liberal) and willing to use the AG office to score partisan political points, going so far as to choose not to enforce or defend state laws with which she personally disagrees.  That right there is pretty much the end of democratic government, when elected officials stop enforcing laws they personally disagree with.  Democracy only works if everyone agrees that whatever the law is, it is, and it is the law of the land until it is changed.

Kane’s icing on the cake was to cold-stop an investigation of four Democrat elected officials in the Philadelphia area.  Kane does not deny that the four had been caught on tape or video taking bribes. One of the officials can be heard saying “Well, happy birthday to [me]!” as he pockets a wad of illegal cash.

In what stinks of political favoritism, Kane simply made up a lame excuse and stopped the ongoing investigation of obvious official corruption.

When Kane was called out about it by the Philadelphia Inquirer, a newspaper unused to criticizing Democrats, she showed up to a meeting with the paper’s board with her libel lawyer in tow.  A subsequent show of legal force and more open threats of a lawsuit against her critics, by Kane, has only made things worse for her.  But she is not backing down.  Mind you, the Inquirer merely reported the facts; the paper did not ascribe motive or allege that Kane herself was part of the cash scandal.  So it is hard to see what kind of libel suit this elected official thought she was going to actually win.  Intimidation was her first and last approach, however, which tells you all you need to know about her very low quality as an elected official.

Additionally, Philadelphia City DA Seth Williams, a Democrat, has criticized Kane for ending the investigation.  Seth and I were close friends while students at Penn State, and yes, he is an active Democrat, and he is also a straight shooter.

Now, Kane says she supports another newspaper’s open records effort to get the documents about the terminated investigation.  Well, actually, after opposing it, Kane only now supports releasing “certain” documents; you know, the documents that support her position.  The investigation’s documents that will cast her political activism in a bad light, well, they should remain sealed, she says.

Governor Tom Corbett may well be a one-term governor, which presently it appears is his sad destiny, if the polling data is even close to accurate.  Well, folks, let’s make this Kathleen Kane a half-term AG.  She is incompetent, she is politicizing Pennsylvania’s established laws, and she is using blunt force legal intimidation to blunt honest criticism of her official job performance.  Let’s start a recall of AG Kane, and get someone in that office who is a plain vanilla enforcer of The Law, as that role is supposed to be.

In an ideal world, party affiliation should not matter in the AG office.  I myself am partial to the potential AG candidacy of Ed Marsico, Dauphin County’s present District Attorney.  Marsico is an honest guy, a hard working guy, and has shown few partisan inclinations in his day to day work of making Dauphin County a safe place to live and work.  Marsico would be a big enough improvement over Kane to warrant a recall effort against her.  Surely there are other professional-grade DAs out there, too, who also would qualify to fill out the remainder Kane’s term.

Let’s get that recall effort started and Pennsylvania’s law enforcement back on track.

UPDATE: How on earth could I forget? Kane is having some difficulty investigating the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, where cash gifts and other toxic ethics violations have occurred recently.  Now….why would Kane have such a tough time bringing to bear her full weight on such obviously corrupt violations of Pennsylvania laws?  Why, it would not perhaps happen to be the presence of KANE TRUCKING contracts with the PLCB, right?  The KANE TRUCKING contracts with the PLCB are worth millions of dollars to Kathleen Kane, personally.  Got it.  Fox guarding the henhouse here.  Good old fashioned corruption, at least on the face of it.  Time to end this sick experiment, and send Mrs. Moneybags Kane home.