The LuLac Edition #636, Nov. 12th, 2008
PHOTO INDEX: SPEAKER OF THE STATE HOUSE DENNIS O'BRIEN AND STATE REPRESENTATIVE KEITH McCALL FROM CARBON COUNTY.
ELECTION OVER? HAH!!
So if you thought the electioneering campaign was over and done with, you haven't been checking out the Harrisburg happenings as far as the State House goes. A coalition seems to be building for Keith McCall to make a run at the Speaker's seat. More than a few House Democrats say there is a consensus to nominate House Majority Whip Keith McCall. The election would happen in January. Democrats control the House, but Rep. Dennis O'Brien, R-Philadelphia, is the House Speaker. He won the post in 2006 when H. William DeWeese, leader of the House Democrats, couldn't win the full backing of his caucus. O'Brien was a compromise candidate who took over the reins from John Perzel. There is talk about Perzel trying to make a comeback among the GOP leadership. O'Brien has done a good job at sherpherding legislation through but it seems the Dems want one of their own to handle the gavel in the final two years of the Rendell administration. In the meantime, Bill DeWeese, flush from a re-election victory is working to win the support of House Democrats before they reorganize on Nov. 18. Despite being viewed as vulnerable, DeWeese defeated Republican challenger Greg Hopkins on Election Day.
DeWeese received big time criticism after the disclosure of taxpayer-funded bonuses to legislative staffers working on re-election campaigns. Tom Corbett's office has filed criminal charges against 12 people with ties to the House Democratic office. DeWeese has not been charged with any crime, has maintained that he had no knowledge of bonus payments for work on re-election campaigns. However critics say he can't escape responsibility because it happened on his watch. He told reporters he runs on "a record of accomplishment" that includes House passage of most of Gov. Ed Rendell's legislative priorities. The House majority leader is the one who determines what bills gets to the floor for votes. Some say the position will take on even more weight this year as House Democrats picked up two seats and will hold a 104-99 majority beginning in January. But the GOP has a 28-21 majority in the Senate, with one seat vacant. It appears that if Governor Ed wants to make any legislative paydirt in his last two years, in which he is being characterized as a lame duck, it will have to be in the House and not the Senate. Rendell will need all the coalition building skills he possesses to deal with the GOP Senate.