Day By Day

Monday, July 25, 2005

Pennsylvania Politics -- The Republicans are Trying to Find a Candidate for Governor, Democrats Screw Up Photo Op

AP reports:

GRANTVILLE – Three candidates for the GOP's gubernatorial nomination gave a list of reasons Saturday why they want to unseat Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, but offered a Republican crowd little contrast among themselves – other than their public-speaking styles.

Former Lt. Gov. William Scranton III thundered from the podium, gesturing at every turn and audibly tapping his fingers in front of the microphone to underscore his points. Lynn Swann smiled early and often throughout his speech, warming up the crowd of GOP faithful with stories from his days as a star wide receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And state Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, known for his serious personality, effusively thanked the crowd for their grass-roots work on GOP campaigns, but yielded most of his speaking time to a campaign consultant who narrated a PowerPoint presentation of Pennsylvania voting trends.

Read it here.

Scranton and Swann dominate public speculation, largely because of name recognition, but Piccola is a serious insider who knows his stuff. All things being equal he would be the choice of the pros. Scranton is not trusted by much of the Republican base and Swann is a neophyte. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. Will they go for the sizzle or for the steak? Who knows at this point.


Gov. Rendell was forced to apologize for statements made by Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll at the funeral of a marine killed in Iraq. Knoll apparently used the occasion to criticize the Bush administration and the war, which outraged the dead man's family and other attendees.

Read about it here.

Knoll's troubles point to a real problem for the Democrats in PA. The party's left wing is rabidly anti-Bush, anti-war, and pro-Roe. None of those is a popular position in the Keystone State and will cost the party votes. Rendell knows this and is trying to shut the lefties up while staking out a moderate position. "It's not the business of state government to support the war" he said, "but our state supports the men and women who are fighting this war."

That position is not going to work for long. Both the lefties in his own party and the Republicans will be pressing Eddie to take a position on the great questions of our day, and when he does articulate a coherent position he will alienate either his party's base or the state's large bloc of moderate voters.

Things are starting to get interesting.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Knoll has now apologized. Apparently she has done this at other funerals without raising a fuss. One of my correspondents who is deeply involved in Pennsylvania politics writes to tell me to cut her some slack. He say's she's not too bright and wouldn't understand why people might be offended by her anti-war remarks. I don't know the woman myself and cannot testify as to her mental competence. My correspondent also says that Piccola is very impressive in person and would make an excellent candidate.That has been my impression too.

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