The LuLac Edition #1082, Jan. 29th, 2010
Senator Ray Musto made it official the other day. He is stepping down after 37 years as an elected official. That’s the stat on his resume. The veteran lawmaker served in the state House from 1971 to 1980. He began his career when he was elected in a special election in 1971 to fill his late father James Musto’s unexpired term. Musto was then elected to Congress in a special election in 1980. In 1982, he was elected to the state Senate. Musto has the distinction of being among only a few public servants to serve in the U.S. Congress, the state House and state Senate. However Musto led a life of public service before assuming the vacant seat of his father in 1971. When Musto’s father was a State representative, the young Ray worked as an unpaid unofficial aide to his father. The younger Musto also kept on eye on the family store. The oldest child, he delayed his college education while his younger siblings sailed through colleges in four years. Musto got his degree the same year as he won his late father’s office. I'd like to clear up a few misconceptions I’ve been hearing about the Senator on talk radio and in the newspaper comment sections.
1. The Handoff: First, Musto was not handed his office when he succeeded his father. He had to fight like the dickens to get it because the local Democrats endorsed a local milkman named Roscoe Mulchahy. It didn’t hurt that Mulcahy was third district chairman. Musto was forced to run a Republican in the special election. As a high school junior, I volunteered to put 8 by 11 flyers on cars in supermarkets and bowling alleys The print piece had Musto’s name and ballot position circled so that voters, mostly Democrats would vote for Ray. So to those who said the office was handfed over to the younger Musto, I say you’re wrong.
2. Laying Low: I heard that all Musto did when he was in office was that he layed low and got goodies for his family. To be sure he helped out friends but it was part of his constituent service. After assuming office Musto continued the constituent service of his late father with the help of the late Paul Delaney as his point man in the Pittston office. There is a reason why Musto used to have more than 1500 people at his annual breakfast meetings in the fall. They were all friends of Ray.
3. Musto was a lifelong politician: It is true. Musto was just that, but he was proud to be a public servant. What we need in our society today are people not afraid to call themselves politicians. Musto embraced that title more than others. In his career he had token opposition in the General Assembly. When he ran for the Senate the only time he broke a sweat was in 1990 when fellow Democrats Frank Trinisewski and Brian O’Donnell ran against him. He beat those challenges back handily.
4.The Congress: Musto served briefly in Congress winning a Special Election in 1980 against the likes of Ed Mitchell, Paul Kanjorski, Dick Adams, and Frank Harrison. Many believe Musto lost the general because of the Reagan landslide and in fact that was partly true. Another component of that defeat was the defection of Democrats in Wilkes Barre who voted for Jim Nelligan in order to back a city candidate in 1982. (Dr. Tom O’Donnell or the ultimate winner in ’82 Frank Harrison were high on the list). In Saturday’s “Interview” segment we’ll talk to a former Musto staffer who worked in the D.C. office during the Congressman’s short tenure.
5. The Musto Dynasty: A lot has been said about a Musto dynasty. Musto’s kids never ran for office. His niece won her office. His brother ran for Judge twice and certainly didn't benefit from Ray's coattails. Musto won his office by the will of the people and not appointment. The recent appointment of former Judge Musto to Court Administrator (reported here earlier in the month) has tongues wagging. But truth be told, Joe Musto at his age could be doing better things than trying to rehabilitate the Luzerne County Court system. Were the Musto's provincial in some cases? You bet. There were some victory parties where only Musto family members were invited on stage. In this political world, family are the only ones you can trust. While there is not a Musto dynasty, there is a “Musto Tree”. Branches of people who worked in politics and public service because of their association with Ray Musto on the state and local level. To this day they serve the public with lessons they learned from Mr. Musto.
Here are some names bandied about for the seat in the 14th District. (Since 1966 when the District was gerrymandered, only two men have held the office, Musto for 28 years and the late Martin L. Murray for 16 years. It is unlikely a Republican will try to break this tradition. Here’s a list of Dems that might try:
John Yudichak: Heavily favored, he’s young, articulate, been a state rep for more than a decade and is a very good campaigner. His feud with Congressman Kanjorski will not be a factor since Kanjo will have his hands full trying to retain his own seat and not be a kingmaker.
Tom Leighton: The Wilkes Barre Mayor certainly has some achievements to point to with the revitalization of the city. In a primary, Leighton will have the strong Wilkes Barre Democrats out in force just as Bill Amesbury did in the Judicial race. The Mayor has a great relationship with Governor Rendell and might even use that leverage to gain a leg up. So he can be a factor.
Michael Lombardo: The former Pittston Mayor and Social worker has a state job that he’ll have to resign from should he run. Talk was Lombardo stepped aside in the contest for the Wilkes Barre Chamber job with Todd Vonderheid in anticipation of this very circumstance.
P.J. Best: Another name being tossed about is that of Study Commission activist P.J. Best who ran unsuccessfully in a primary against state Representative Mike Carroll. Best also was the impetus behind the Home Rule Charter.
MUSTO ON LULAC
This Saturday in Edition #1083 we interview a former Musto Congressional staffer. And check out our archives from June of 2009 when we did a Father's Day feature highlighting Senator Musto and his late father. Click Archives, June 2009 and look for Edition # 854, June 21st.
A SEAT AT THE TABLE?
I laughed my butt off Thursday when I heard the Republicans in Congress, in particular Representative John Boener asking for a “seat at the table” with the White House in getting things accomplished. What a crock! This self serving little dandy with his little rep tie sat on his hands with a scowl on his face when President Obama gave his State of the Union address. He has opposed every piece of progressive legislation for middle class families. He wants a seat at the table? To say no? Uh, I don’t think so.
TIM TEBOW AD
A lot has been said about Tim Tebow and his supposed Super Bowl ad where his mom talks about his life. Tebow’s mother was told she should have an abortion for her health. She didn’t. The ad focuses on the fact that Tim is a true, living success. The pro choice women’s groups are angry because the ad is going to be on the Super Bowl. Ladies, it’s all about choice. That’s what you say, right? Mrs. Tebow had a choice, she made it. The advertisers had a choice, they picked the Super Bowl. CBS had a choice to take the money and they did. You have a choice to protest the ad but a better idea might be to either keep your mouth shut because your opposition has given the ad more traction than it deserves or produce one of your own. And you all know how I feel about choice.
PCN viewers will get an opportunity to hear from the candidates vying for the chance to get on the democratic ticket for Governor of Pennsylvania and U.S. Senate in the upcoming state primary.
Democratic Gubernatorial debate, hosted by PA Progressive Summit
Airs LIVE on PCN Friday, January 29 – 7:00 p.m.
Scheduled to attend: Chris Doherty, Joe Hoeffel, Tom Knox, Dan Onorato, and
PA Auditor General Jack Wagner
Re-airs on Saturday, January 30 at 2:00 p.m.
Democratic U.S. Senate forum hosted by PA Progressive Summit
Airs LIVE on PCN Saturday, January 30 – 7:30 p.m.
Invited to attend: Sen. Arlen Specter, D- PA and Rep. Joe Sestak, D – PA
Re-airs on Sunday, January 31 at 2:00 p.m.
And Now for Something Completely Different
The British government promises the U.S. that British troops in Malaysia will stay until more peaceful conditions occur in the region...The first of 608 performances of Sweet Charity opens at the Palace Theatre in New York City.......Statewide, Philadelphia area businessman and Cable TV mogul Milton Shapp declares his candidacy for the Governor’s office in the state….and in Kingston’s newly reconstituted 5th district, Kingston GOP Council Chair Frank O’Connell enters the race for State Representative and 44 years ago this week the number 1 song in LuLac land and America was “A Well Respected Man” by the Kinks.