The LuLac Edition #854, June 21st, 2009
PHOTO INDEX: THE LATE STATE REPRESENTATVE JAMES MUSTO AND HIS SON STATE SENATOR RAY MUSTO, THE LATE SCRANTON CITY COUNCILMAN JAMES DOHERTY AND HIS SON CHRIS DOHERTY, CURRENT MAYOR OF SCRANTON, SENATOR ROBERT CASEY JUNIOR WITH HIS FATHER THE LATE GOVERNOR ROBERT P. CASEY SENIOR. (PHOTO COMPILATIONS FROM LULAC ARCHIVES, DISPLAY BY MRS. LULAC).
FATHERS AND SONS
We are all familiar with businesses that have been passed down from one generation to another. It has been done prominently in this area in the fields of media and manufacturing. When the family business is politics and public service, the passing of the mantle has to go through one big litmus test, the will and opinion of the people. History has shown us the success stories of fathers and sons who have succeeded in their father’s footsteps. Fathers and daughters as well have been political partners. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend followed her father into elective politics in Maryland while current Health and Human Services Secretary and former Governor Kathleen Sibelius followed in the footsteps of her father, Governor John Gilligan of Ohio. Mostly though, it’s been fathers and sons following in the political paths to power. But having a famous, electable father does not guarantee success. Presidents have not been able to translate their popularity to their sons. Just ask James Roosevelt, Elliot Roosevelt and Chip Carter. In LuLac land though, there have been successful transitions of father and sons into local politics. On this Father’s Day, let me tell you about a few.
James Musto was a popular and dedicated member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in the late 40s, 50s, 60s and the first part of the 1970s. Musto represented the 3rd District which comprised the Greater Pittston area at that time. It was not uncommon for people of the district to follow Musto home on a Sunday afternoon after he went to church to tell him their concerns and problems. Musto had to deal with an aging population of constituents who were ravaged by the insidious disease suffered by coal miners, black lung disease or anthrosilicosis.
James Musto remained a dependable mainstay in the Democratic party throughout the years. His district was always regarded as safe despite numerous challenges from perennial GOP candidate Sam Daley. In early 1971 James Musto passed away and it was assumed his son Ray, who put aside his college education to help his father run the family business as well as aid him in his legislative duties would be given the opportunity to run in his father’s place. However the Third District Democrats and a few County Democrats had other ideas. The Democrats endorsed Third District Chairman Roscoe Mulchahy. It was reasoned by the Democratic hierarchy that since Mulchahy was a milkman by trade, he had greater name recognition than the younger Musto. The Pittston Area political community was shocked, then became divided. Ray Musto then decided to do the unthinkable. Run as a Republican in the 1971 special election to fill the seat of his father. The campaign passed out a simple 8 by 14 sheet that showed a sample ballot. In red circled was Ray Musto’s name. The Musto machine that carried his father to victory many times over was now in full gear. Pittston politicos were fond of saying “Ray wasn’t following in his father’s footsteps, he was aiming to make his own imprint on his father’s footprints!” People responded. The late Paul Delaney of Pittston was tireless in his efforts passing out those sample ballots. One Saturday night he got a few box boys from Detato’s Super Market in Pittston (I was one of them along with his son P.J.) to blanket cars and doorsteps with those ballot flyers. It was a coalition of the black lung miners and their widows as well as anyone ever helped by James Musto along with people who did not know the Musto family but felt Ray was getting treated unfairly. All of those factors propelled the younger Musto to victory. He won the special election going away, got his degree from King’s College that year and never looked back. Ray Musto served 4 terms of his own in the State House until fate once more intervened in his career. In 1980 Musto won the special election to fill the seat of Dan Flood in the 11th Congressional District. He was defeated in the Reagan landslide that year by James Nelligan. Musto went back to private life for a short time but then Martin L. Murray, the former President Pro Tem of the Pennsylvania Senate retired and Musto ran and won that job in 1982. Ray Musto is serving his 8th term in the Senate and is highly regarded for his work on environmental and infrastructure issues. One hallmark of the Musto political name is constituent service. If you contact his office, you will always get a response. We posed a few questions to Senator Musto on this Father’s Day and here are his responses:
1. What do you remember best about your father’s tenure in office?
His dedicated service to his constituents and in particular his attention to the problems facing the working families of Northeast PA.
2. He was quite visible in politics and were you ever as a kid growing up impacted in a positive or negative manner by your peers?
My father’s service record had a huge impact on the entire Musto family. His office was our family home. People would come and go at all hours any day of the week. The busiest day was Sunday because everyone one knew that he would be home on Sundays. My mother never knew how many people would be joining us at the family table for dinner. Service was his mantra.
3. Why did you decide to follow in his footsteps when there were other career options available to you today?
In the latter months of my father’s life he was not physically well and I spent a great deal of time assisting him in many aspects of his position except for voting on the floor.
4. Putting the father/son relationship aside, how do you think your father would rate you as a politician and a leader?
I think he would be pleased that I followed in his footsteps by making public service a priority.
5. If there were anything you could say to your dad on this Father’s Day, what would it be?
To my father and mother I would say that the Musto family is very grateful to them for the morals and values that they are responsible for instilling in each and every one of us. Thank you.
Ray Musto was joined in a commitment to public service by his brother Judge Joseph Musto who served on the Court of Common Pleas in the early 1990s and is currently on the bench as a sitting Judge.
A name well known in Scranton political circles is Doherty. Everyone knows that the current Mayor Chris Doherty has had a high public profile. Mayor Doherty has not missed an opportunity to promote the virtues of Scranton nationally whether it be on MSNBC’s Hardball or doing a promotion with a cast member from the hit TV Show “The Office’. The Mayor knows his way around a camera but a lot of that is in his genes. The Mayor’s father, James Doherty was one of the most well known, televised political personalities in the 60s and 70s. It was a much different time then. There was no cable, no video and only three TV channels, 2 of which having a major commitment to cover local happenings. Every Wednesday night if you were watching the news, chances are you’d see Councilman Jim Doherty on the air. Jim Doherty was of the “Greatest Generation”, the WWII era of individuals that meant what they said and said what they meant. Jim Doherty was a Ltn. Commander in the Navy during the second world war and commanded a PT boat in the D Day invasion at Normandy. Doherty was wounded there and no doubt saw thousands of men killed around him so you have to guess that standing up to the Scranton Sewer Authority for him was a walk in the park. Doherty’s exploits in WWII were actually chronicled in a Time Magazine story. After the war, he got a degree from the College of the Holy Cross as well as attending the Harvard School of Business where he received his Masters degree. He married, proceeded to have 11 kids and opened a successful business. In 1963 Doherty began his first of 4 terms on Scranton City Council. He has the distinction of serving under 4 Scranton Mayors, Bill Scmidt, James Walsh, Eugene Peters and Eugene Hickey. Doherty was extremely vocal in his TV appearances and because he was informative and entertaining, a news story featuring him could go on for more than 5 minutes. (Remember TV news was a different animal back then.) Doherty could be funny, once calming down an angry resident by saying he was sorry for upsetting the man’s “tranquility”. One time he referred to an issue not passed by council by saying “it’s as dead as a Christmas turkey”. One of Doherty’s last blasts happened in 1979 shortly before he left office. Doherty was pushing for higher pay for council and didn’t get a second to his motion. He chastised his fellow members by saying, “We don’t like one decision so we throw it to the courts. We don’t like another decision, we put it on the ballot. We’re not supposed to be acting like a bunch of pantywaists”. Despite that parting shot, Doherty was honored by that very Council as well as the city with a Jim Doherty day. Doherty died in May of 1993. His son Chris served on City Council from 1997 to 2001 but the news business changed and he got nowhere near the coverage his father did. But Chris Doherty built on his experience on Council and was elected in 2001, 2005 and now in 2009 as Mayor. Chris Doherty is on a pace, if he serves his full term to match his father’s tenure time on council. 16 years a piece to the city of Scranton). The Mayor has worked very hard to rebuild the image and finances of the city. He has been criticized by some Democrats for embracing Republican office holders to accomplish goals for the city. But he is fond of saying that he is the Mayor of all the people, Republican or Democrat. Jim Doherty was asked once why he never sought higher office. Doherty said, “City Council is where the spade work of city government is done”. His son Chris knows full well that a cooperative effort by all city branches of government, even with disagreements, gets the job done. Jim Doherty and his son Chris, by their respective careers in Scranton City government adhere to the old saying, “If it was easy, everyone would want to do it”.
Robert Casey Senior is a god in Democratic political party circles. But it wasn’t always that way. Bob Casey was touted as an up and comer by the Democrats in the early 1960s. The Democrats had a Governor, David Lawrence who was in his 70s when he left office and replaced by a vitality filled charismatic younger man named Bill Scranton. Bob Casey, a Scranton lawyer fit the bill for the go go 60s in the age of JFK. In 1962 Casey was elected to the State Senate and at the age of 36 received the party backing for Governor. He didn’t count on Milton Shapp, an industrialist who spent millions of dollars of his own money in that Governor’s race. Casey lost the primary but rebounded two years later with a win statewide for Auditor General. Obtaining a small apartment in Lemoyne which is right outside of Harrisburg, Bob Casey was home every Friday afternoon to spend time with his family as well as keeping his political irons in the fire. In 1970 he tried again for Governor but was bested by Shapp again. Casey was reelected in 1972, then went back to private life in 1976 despite being asked to run for the U.S. Senate in the Bicentennial year. 1978 came and Bob Casey lost another primary, this time though due to political chicanery. A man with a similar name, Robert Casey was running for Ltn. Governor and people thought they were voting for Robert P. They weren’t. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Casey in early 1978 on WVIA TV. I was only 24, I was awestruck by him and by all standards I was horrible. But Bob Casey the man did an incredible thing that day. He guided me through the interview, clarifying my clearly inexperienced line of questioning and being ever so kind in dealing with me. The next Monday morning, station manager George Strimell said, “I saw your interview with Bob Casey, you know he saved your ass out there don’t you?” Indeed I did.
Eight years later in 1986 Casey made a fourth bid for governor in 1986, billing himself as the "real Bob Casey" to distinguish himself and make light of the mistaken identity follies of the past. Dubbed "the three-time loss from Holy Cross" by detractors, Casey hired two then-generally unknown political strategists, James Carville and Paul Begala, to lead his campaign staff.
Unlike his three previous tries, Casey won the Democratic primary, defeating Philadelphia district attorney (and future Philadelphia Mayor and two term governor) Ed Rendell. He then faced Thornburgh's lieutenant governor, William Scranton III in the general election. The race was considered too close to call until the week before the election but Casey finally won his long coveted prize by 79,000 votes. Casey’s victory made the career of Carville and Begala in national politics.
Casey brought what he called an "activist government" to Pennsylvania, expanding health care services for women, introducing reforms to the state's welfare system, and introducing an insurance program for uninsured children. Casey also introduced a "capital for a day" program, where the state's official business was conducted from eighteen different communities throughout the state. Despite charges that his administration squandered a budget surplus and ran the state into record annual budget deficits, Casey remained popular with voters, easily winning re-election in 1990 against a pro-choice Republican.
Governor Casey was well-known as a staunch pro-life advocate. In 1989 Casey pushed through the legislature the "Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act," which placed limitations on abortion, including the notification of parents of minors, a twenty-four-hour waiting period, and a ban on partial-birth procedures except in cases of risk to the life of the mother. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania sued, with Casey as the named defendant, asserting that the law violated Roe v. Wade. The case went to the United States Supreme Court in April, 1992. On June 29, 1992, in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey the Supreme Court, upheld all of Pennsylvania's restrictions except one (the requirement for spousal notification) and affirming the right of states to restrict abortions. During his second term, Casey was diagnosed with Appalachian familiar amyloidosis, a genetic condition where proteins invade and destroy bodily organs. To combat the disease, he underwent an extremely rare heart-liver transplant on the morning of June 14, 1993 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The announcement of Casey's disease was made just days before he underwent the transplant, and as a result many accused him of receiving preferential treatment with respect to donor waiting lists. Before undergoing the operation, he transferred executive authority to Lieutenant Governor Singel. Casey resumed his duties on December 13, 1993 almost six months to the day after he underwent the operation. Following his operation, Casey strongly supported legislation that encouraged organ transplants by guaranteeing access to the families of potential organ donors by organ recovery organizations, providing drivers' license identification of potential donors, and establishing an organ donation trust fund from voluntary donations to promote the benefits of organ donation. Today the organ donation trust fund is named in his honor.
Casey wrote a wonderful book, “Fighting For Life” which detailed his political career as well as his battle with his illness. I met him again at the Steamtown Mall on St. Patrick’s Day 1997 where he was signing his book. I had marched in the parade as a staff member of Rock 107 that day and was dead tired. But I had to have him sign my book. As always he was gracious and when I told him I was a follower from the time I was 12 years old in his first run for Governor, he inscribed in the book, “Thanks for being at my side since 1966, Robert P. Casey”. Robert Casey died on May 30th, 2000.
His son Robert Casey Junior followed him to the Auditor General’s office in 1996 and a beaming father saw his son take the oath of office. Bob Casey Junior was reelected in 2000, spoke at the Democratic convention of Al Gore (an opportunity denied to his father in 1992) and was elected State Treasurer in 2004. Bob Casey Junior ran against Ed Rendell in the 2002 Democratic primary but came up short. However in 2006, Bob Casey Junior was elected to the U.S. Senate after much prodding by the national Democratic leadership. The younger Casey has followed in his father’s frugality staying in his office along with family members for the Obama inauguration. (Casey Junior showed political courage too and great political acumen by endorsing Mr. Obama early on.) Even though he meets with Presidents, foreign leaders and power brokers, Bob Casey chooses to get home as quick as he can to spend time with his family. The father of four daughters, he was once asked what ambitions he would have in his retirement years, money, fame, power? He answered, “I’d just like to have a bathroom to myself once in a while”. Down to earth, focused on the issues, a proponent that government is here to help people, Bob Casey is truly his father’s son in every way politically, socially and in the most important manner, personally. Like his father, Robert Casey Senior, who never strayed from Scranton very long, Bob Casey Junior follows in those footsteps. When he was elected by a landslide for the U.S. Senate in 2006, a song blared out what could very well be the anthem for both father and son, “Hometown Boy”.
Attempts by e mail and phone to have the Casey and Doherty staffs contact Bob Casey Junior and Chris Doherty with our questions regarding their thoughts on their dads were unsuccessful. We thank Senator Musto for his participation.