PHOTO INDEX: FRANK CASTELLANO, CANDIDATE FOR LACKAWANNA COUNTY COMMON PLEAS JUDGE AND TINA POLACHEK GARTLEY, CANDIDATE FOR LUZERNE COUNTY JUDGE.
TINA GARTLEY, COZY?
I have been doing a lot of work on this Judicial race in Luzerne County since this whole thing started in early January of 2009. It has been my honor to meet many local attorneys who have offered themselves for public office. All of the aspirants made an impression on me whether it was part of their resume or just the way they presented themselves. I’ve met Tina Gartley a few times, at my Judicial Forum in April (matter of fact I think she R.S.V.P. ed personally) and throughout her campaign effort. There are many words to describe Gartley but the words “cozy” and “hand picked” are definitely not Tina Polachek Gartley. Maybe if her husband bought her a “Snuggy” for her birthday could I use the word cozy but I met Mr. Gartley and he seems way savvy in the marriage business to proffer a gift like that for his wife. So “cozy” is out. The phrase “hand picked” is not one I would ascribe to candidate Gartley either. But Friday the state GOP weighed in on the Judicial race in Luzerne County. One of their spokesman Michael Barley questioned Luzerne County Commissioner Chairwoman Maryanne Petrilla’s recent vote to add language to the general election ballot, saying it’s an attempt “to rig the election for the corrupt Democrat Party and its candidates.” While I as a voter don’t agree with his supposition that this is going to sway the election one way or another, it is nice to see life in the local GOP. What is even more exciting is to see the state lend a hand for a GOP candidate. (I watched in absolute wonderment and surprise in 2006 as the party higher-ups on the state and national level virtually ignored a clean as a whistle charismatic, smart candidate for Congress in the 11th Congressional district while embracing an embattled scandal plagued one in the 10th. So in my view any recognition on the local level is a good thing). And truth be told Ms. Petrilla can take care of herself when she is hammered. In Barley’s release, after questioning Petrilla’s motive in the straight party maneuver regarding Election Day, he also criticized Democratic judicial candidate Tina Polachek Gartley. He said, “Just look at how cozy Maryanne Petrilla is with Tina Gartley, a candidate who has been hand-picked by the entrenched Luzerne County Democrat machine to help them maintain the culture of corruption in Luzerne County.”
Okay, a few facts here:
1. The Democratic party didn’t embrace anyone in the spring judicial primary. It was too fragmented. Proof of that was leading up to the deadline, we knew one Attorney Bufalino was running for Judge but not sure if there would be another one in the hunt. And the guy in question who was not taking a run was the party Chairman! That sounds more like a free for all (sorry Corbett) than a hand-picking ceremony in a smokey back room.
2. With all due respect to Gartley, no one took her seriously except the band of loyalists she had with her and the people who heard her speak on the campaign trail. At the start, you saw no party big wigs at her events, not even Petrilla. You saw people you never saw at a campaign rally. Regular folks who needed a primer on “networking” and an elementary course in “back slapping”.
3. While other candidates spent big bucks, she spent her money wisely thanks to some savvy advertising people who enlisted in her cause. She bought “smart” not “big’.
4. While she was endorsed by the two daily papers that came about because of her presentation skills as well as the belief that it was not time for a “woman” judge (that slogan was used before in this county) but time for a Judge who had levels of experience on a multiple dimensional plane. (Or as one of my frequent posters says about Gartley, “one that has it going on everywhere”).
5. The Democratic party was divided in this Judicial race along all lines. Family, old school, new school, geography, gender, class and even fragmentation of legal specialization. Even the three women who ran, Gartley, Rogers and Morabito had their own separate cheering sections. Not a good formula to be hand-picked if you ask me.
6. Barley is correct that the Democratic party is entrenched because people here vote that way. But the old days of a party chairman calling up a member of the Young Democrats who was seen at a social function with a friend of a GOP official telling the kid, “you’re getting a little independent there” are over. (No. it wasn’t me, I never joined the young Democrats, I was in Future Nurses for the dating opporunities.) If there were any juice left in the controls of the Democratic party, there wouldn’t be 17 candidates running in a primary!
7. Barley seems to imply that Petrilla wants Gartley to win for some power trip or personal triumph. Petrilla is doing what she is expected to do as a Democrat but also a woman. Support women Democratic candidates. Petrilla was front and center with Hillary Clinton in 2008. As a matter of fact, one on line political site criticized the Gartley campaign for having Petrilla host an event.
So the obvious conclusion here is that Tina Gartley is cozy with no one on the party level and she is not a hand-picked candidate either. Like her own life, Gartley had to fight every step of the way to get nominated. And she will be the first to tell you it was not a done deal. Even after the primary, Gartley endured a whispering campaign that was finally put to rest two weeks ago.
The State GOP over reached on this one. Everything is pretty much fair game in an election year and you can’t blame the local GOP for bringing in the big guns. You could say as a Democrat Gartley would benefit from the straight party voting. But to use the words “cozy” and “hand-picked”, well I can see the late wordsmith and GOP speech maker William Safire (who passed away a few weeks back) turning over in his grave. Words matter. Even if they are spoken 105 miles south of Luzerne County.
FRANK WANTS YOU!!!
Lackaweanna County Common Pleas Judge candididate Frank Castellano invites all to an "Old Forge Rally for Frank Castellano" on Thursday, October
22 at 7:00pm. Here are the details:
Event: Old Forge Rally for Frank Castellano
Start Time: Thursday, October 22 at 7:00pm
End Time: Thursday, October 22 at 9:00pm
Where: Cafe Rinaldi.
BAKER IN 2010??
We have reports coming in from the 10th Congressional district that telephone pollsters are asking likely voters if they would support State Senator Lisa Baker in a run against incumbent Chris Carney. Baker became Senator in 2006 succeeding Charles Lemmond. It is an intriguing question and one has to wonder if it is part of the GOP national committee, rejuvenated by the ambitious agenda of President Obama and doubts about it, casting about for a strong candidate to reclaim the 10th. This is worth watching.