Get ready for run-up to elections
On Monday we pause for a day to honor the notion of Labor, saluting working men and women and the jobs they perform every day.
On Tuesday politicians across the Commonwealth will revert to their full-time pre-occupation – getting re-elected.
The traditional post-Labor Day dash to the polling places will be at two months and counting before the November mid-term elections.
Pennsylvania voters have plenty on their plates.
We will be electing a governor, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representatives, every member of the state House and half the state Senate.
Sitting atop the Pennsylvania ballot will be the battle for the governor’s mansion. Incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf is being challenged by Republican former state Sen. Scott Wagner.
Call it the Battle of York County. Both Wagner and Wolf are millionaire York County businessmen. Wagner made his fortune in trash-hauling. Wolf was in the lumber and building products biz.
They are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Wolf won office on a pledge to increase education funding, including raising taxes to do it. Before resigning his Senate seat to run for governor, Wagner was part of the conservative firebrand faction in the Legislature that thwarted Wolf’s plans at every move.
In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democrat Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. is being challenged by Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Hazleton.
A new Franklin & Marshall College poll out this week showed both Democrats with double-digit leads, while the Republicans have their own polls showing the races much closer.
One thing is certain: The state will have more women representing them in Washington. That’s because in the newly created 5th Congressional District, Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon will square off against Republican Pearl Kim. The winner will replace Rep. Pat Meehan, who resigned his 7th District seat after being ensnarled in a sex harassment case he settled with taxpayer dollars. The state Supreme Court tossed out the old Congressional district boundaries and drew up their own, making the 5th include all of Delaware County, along with a sliver of Montgomery County on the Main Line, and a chunk of South and Southwest Philly.
In Chester County, Democrat Chrissy Houlahan is considered a prohibitive favorite to beat Republican Greg McCauley for the 6th District seat being vacated by Rep. Ryan Costello, who opted not to seek re-election.
But it’s a person whose name will not be on the ballot that likely casts the biggest shadow on the Pennsylvania vote.
The November Mid-Terms are being cast as a referendum on the first two years of the presidency of Donald Trump.
The F&M poll reinforced that notion, with both Democrat and Republican voters indicating President Trump was “an essential motivating force” behind the vote. In other words, both Republicans and Democrats plan to capitalize on the president.
Expect to hear lots from Republicans on jobs, the economy, tax cuts and the bullish stock market, while Democrats focus on the scandals that have dogged the president, as well as the problems that have plagued his immigration policies.
Both Wagner and Barletta have aligned themselves with the president, enthusiastically embracing the commander-inchief. Barletta has done several campaign appearances with Trump.
The poll indicated 67 percent of those planning to vote for Democratic candidates will do so mainly as a vote against President Trump and Congressional Republicans. On the flip side, 74 percent of those who will cast ballots for Republican candidates will do so as a show of support for the president.
There is some good news in the F&M pool, and it has nothing to do with who is leading the horse race. The poll indicates more than half the state’s registered voters, 54 percent, say they are “very interested” in the mid-term elections.
Do your homework. Analyze the candidates. Don’t succumb to using President Trump as a bellwether for your vote.
He’s not on the ballot. Wagner, Wolf, Costello, Barletta and a boatload of others are.
You’ve got two months to make up your mind.