The LuLac Edition #1596, May 15th, 2011
PHOTO INDEX: GAVEL.
JUDICIAL RACE 2011
As the hours dwindle down the 16 candidates running for Luzerne County Judge are fastening their seat belts for a very wild ride. With 6 openings at one time, you can concoct a lot of scenarios. Like 6 lawyers winning dual nominations and thus eliminating the need for a general election campaign. Or having competition in all of them come the fall. Or having a Democrat win the GOP nod but not necessarily the Democratic nomination. The wild card here is 6 open seats. That has never happened before in Luzerne County history.
As I pointed out in my poll, the candidates are put in three tiers. Unlike the 2009 race when it was assumed that money and name recognition could get you elected ( just ask Joe Musto and Gene Sperraza) this race is going to come down to all of the stars aligning right for a candidate. Currently the top tier of Pierantoni, Hughes, Vough, Rogers, Sklorasky Junior and Saporito have to to worry about turnout as well as field organization on Election Day. The money they spent, the way they ran their campaign and the familiarity voters have with them gives them a leg up. But not by much.
The second tier consists of Bufalino, Gelb, Hanlon Mirabito, DeLuca and Raddick. They are close to Saporito in moving into that 6th slot. But all aren’t without challenges. There are some on the campaign trail who think Mark Bufalino is really his brother CJ who ran in 2009. Nothing wrong with that because the vibes I heard were “it’s great he’s trying again, I’ll give him a shot” but then there are others who are a tad confused. Gelb has been trying to explain the leaking of a confidential document from her old law firm Cefalo and Associates. While her explanation has been thorough, most people I talked to clearly don’t understand the issue and have told me its too complicated to deal with. If those voters stay home (as some uninformed opinionators do) it shouldn’t hurt. DeLuca has a double edged sword type of problem. Voters who are pro charter remember DeLuca’s vigorous campaign against it. Others have scoffed at the DeLuca ads where he says he cleaned up the Courthouse. He might have but without specific details voters are telling me this is just an empty claim. Jim Haggerty’s problem is similar to DeLuca’s. There are people who are strong Haggerty fans because of his leadership in Kingston as well as his chairmanship of the Home Rule Council. One thing going for Haggerty is that he was the top vote getters last year in the Home Rule race and that is a block of votes that he can start the contest with. But there is a distinct block of voters who just don't like Jim Haggerty. If the DeLuca and Haggerty supporters come out in force, they can capitulate both men higher out of the second tier. Hanlon Mirabito might surprise some people by actually garnering a Republican nomination. There is talk that the Hanlon Miirabito campaign has been courting some pretty big power brokers in both parties but that she has impressed many in the local GOP. Take her Democratic base as well as hardcore GOP voters to vote for 6 and she might have success. Paula Raddick is working extremely hard doing a lot of grass roots campaigning. If Raddick pulls a good vote out of Hazleton and just breaks even in the rest of the County, she can break out of the second tier.
Finally, the last 4 John Aciukewicz, Mike Blazick both Democrats and Jim McMonagle and Tony Ross will need a virtual political miracle to move up. All four have been impressive on the campaign trail but only Blazick who ran the last time and had the endorsements of both daily newspapers has a shot. Voters I have spoken with say they'd give them another look at another time. The two comments heard most frequently about Ross and McMonagle is "They're young, they'll be back".
But you can prove this analysis wrong and voting for your candidate for Luzerne County Judge.