The LuLac Edition #505, June 25th, 2008
PHOTO INDEX: THE LATE SENATOR FROM THE 20TH DISTRICT T. NEWELL WOOD, MAX OF THE GOP, AND THE LATE SENATOR MARTIN L. MURRAY FROM THE 14TH DISTRICT. BETWEEN WOOD AND MURRAY, THEY TOOK THE STUFFING OUT OF THE GOP PARTY IN THE LATE 60s AND 70s. FORMIDABLE ALLIES.
CASEY AT THE BAT
So the Luzerne County GOP has a new Chairman. He’s Terry Casey and he has a mountain of work ahead of him. We wish him the best. As noted in our LuLac Edition # 376 of Dec. 21, 2007, (you can pull it up in our archives by accessing Dec. 2007) the County GOP needs help.
Casey has come up with good ideas like hiring an Executive Director and staffing an office in Downtown Wilkes Barre. However, it will take more than that to rejuvenate the Republican Party locally. First off, he has to get those Executive Committee members like Mr. Flack and the Sordonis to become more involved as power brokers. They must treat the registration depleted 6th District just like they would their own backyard. Money poured into races, and no deals with the opposition no matter how tempting and a bona fide effort to increase registration would be a good start. In a news article Casey referred to the fact that the GOP has to field better candidates. I disagree. There is a contingent of dedicated candidates who if they had the backing would win in a walk. In Wilkes Barre city alone in ’07, the GOP had 4 articulate, professional Council candidates. They were the best kept secrets in Pennsylvania politics. Save for geographic location, what’s the difference between a Karen Boback winning a State Rep seat and a Christine Katsock losing one? Registration, registration, registration. Terry, you have the candidates, it’s not like the old days where the late cigar chomping Harold Williams ran just because no one else wanted the job. Give them the money, and you’ll see competitive races. The Congressional race of 2006 was a travesty right down the line from the national GOP to your local outfit. I attended two Joe Leonardi events and the representation from the party leaders was pathetic, make that non existent. Don’t put the blame on candidates in this decade, when your party could not even defend two multi term incumbents like Barry Stankus and Mary Dysleski when they came under mild political fire. A few thousand bucks in retaliatory advertising and you’d have those two offices retained.
Even though there is a long row to hoe, the time is ripe for a GOP take over. But let’s not underestimate the GOP’s ineptness in trying to take advantage of the Democrats shortcomings. In 1968, the Democratic party in the County was divided after the death of Dr. Dorris. As a matter of fact, there were two factions, one headed by Senator Martin Murray, the other headed by the people at the Courthouse. How did the GOP take advantage of that split? 20th District Senator T. Newell Wood made deals with Murray to get a few jobs for his cronies and the Dems sat fat and happy for years. Casey alluded to the treatment former County head Guthrie Conyingham received at the 1982 GOP county convention. Conyingham, a well known businessman and philanthropist was associated with the Newell regime and even though he was a decent man, he as Chairman was painted with that brush. The Trinicrats saw Conyingham with tunnel vision, only as part of the Wood era. It wasn't his fault as chairman but during the time Conyingham served, only one row officer was a Republican and he even lost that election and served by court order!!! (The Late Joe Tirpak ran for County Controller, defeated Steve Yanoshak who was an incumbent but never served because he held a financial position prior to his election. Yanoshak, defeated, served until 1975 when he was elected Minority Commissioner). The reason why Frank Trinisewski wanted his own chairman, Ted Warkomski, was because he feared another GOP deal in 1983. Frank Crossin Senior had died, his son Frank Junior was just finding his footing and Edd Brominski was under fire for various and sundry developments in his reign including a brewing Human Services scandal. Trini and Phillips won two terms as Republicans (Trini became a Democrat in 1988, not the next year after his first majority election as Commissioner) but each time they ran, they had opposition within their own party. What is it with the GOP and primaries? When Charles Lemmond retired in the 20th, you had an heir apparent, Lisa Baker with two decades of experience, yet 5 other people jumped into the race. One of the secrets of the Dems rise to power is no primary. Now, as the Dems under the dome are openly contemptuous of each other and there are multi faceted investigations going on in almost every department, it would appear that the Courthouse is ripe for the picking. Maybe the local GOP will get smart, united and funded and the third time will be the charm. But given the past history, maybe is a gigantic word. Terry Casey needs to build from within, blow it up and start over (the roster of district chairman is a good start) and get the local power brokers to stop giving big bucks to the likes of Dick Cheney when he blows into the Back Mountain and start funding candidates who believe in GOP principles. To date, those local candidates have been pretty much hung out to dry. Good luck and God speed Mr. Casey. All political observers are pulling for your success. If you succeed, then that means good government (or hell, I’ll even settle for “not so bad government” ) has half a fighting chance again in Luzerne County.