Get ready for run-up to elec­tions

The Review - - OPINION -

Brace your­self.

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.

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