The LuLac Edition #1867, December 21st, 2011
Write On Wednesday logo.
Dr. Joe Leonardi on the campaign trail in 2006 with Senator Rick Santorum and family member.
WRITE ON WEDNESDAY
by Doctor Joe Leonardi
I read with interest the recent redistricting plan that essentially secured Lou Barletta’s and Tom Marino’s political future. To the victor belongs the spoils and one of the biggest by products of that is control over Legislative and Congressional districts. With the State Legislature overwhelmingly passing the plan, now the names begin to be bandied about for possible candidacies. In the new 17th, Matt Cartwright (who I had the pleasure to work with when I was a political commentator at WYOU TV during the 2008 Election) has indicated he might run against Tim Holden. Matt would be a great addition to public service and in a way his run makes sense. What does not make sense to me is the news that Attorney Bill Vinsko may want to run against Lou Barletta even though the power base Bill has spent years building is no longer available to him. Vinsko’s comments that it is not about a district, but about a country are all well and good. But you can be sure the Barlettta campaign will hammer him as a carpet bagger of the first order. Vinsko seems to think that since he made the commitment to run he has to follow through on it as a code of honor. Politicians make promises all the time. And they should try and keep them. But sometimes keeping those promises to oneself has a big cost. I point that out because in 2006 I was the Republican nominee in the 11th Congressional district running against Paul Kanjorski. The primary ran smoothly for me but shortly after I was taken ill by a serious infection. My entire life, my business, my family, my finances and my campaign were imperiled. As I struggled to recover from my illness, I had thought about leaving the campaign. The overwhelming voice of punctuality and common sense told me to drop out of the race. But those thoughts were drowned out by the example my immigrant father imparted on me in my formative years. My dad always stressed that one should finish what one starts. When you make a commitment, when you give your word, follow through on it. And I did. My race against Kanjorski was an uphill battle because the national GOP was pouring tons of money into the scandal ridden candidacy of Don Sherwood. (Hindsight says I might have done better running against Sherwood being from Honesdale at the time). There was virtually no support from the powers that be here in the 11th District. Oh there were promises made to me but as the administrator of this blog site, Dave Yonki has said many times, “The oaths of local GOP power brokers aren’t worth the paper and ink they are written on”. The race was run on a shoe string but I still got 28% of the vote. If I had about $10,000 I might have had a chance. In addition to running the race, my practice suffered. Patients I saw on a regular basis first had to deal with my absence because of my illness. Then when the campaign came, they lost their patience with me. I used my own money to travel the entire district, kept on a skeleton staff in my practice and scratched together some money for an ad on WNEP and some radio. But I was being pulled in 4 different directions. The four foundations, my business, my finances, my personal life and the new addition, my campaign all were being stressed to the maximum. Days after the Election, I took a long walk from my home in Dupont (where I set up residence to run) all the way to South Wilkes Barre. I reflected on the campaign and did a personal inventory. Even though I did the honorable thing in my mind, keeping my commitments as my father had taught me, I realized it was a huge mistake. Make no mistake, my life has been wonderful so far. Other than the loss of my parents, nothing has ever gotten me down. I have traveled the world, as Frank Sinatra has sung, “I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, A poet, a pawn and a king, I've been up and down and over and out..”, and my motto has been “Been there, done that, loved it all”. But the one mistake I made and will admit to readily is that given everything that was going on in my life in 2006, it was foolhardy to keep my word and keep my promise in making that race. People not close to this have no appreciation for the toll a campaign takes on one. I offer these reflections openly not as an excuse for my failed effort but as a cautionary tale for Mr. Vinsko. If he truly believes his entry against Barletta in a stacked district will somehow make a difference, then I wish him luck. But if he continues to run against Mr. Barletta because of a sense of honor and commitment, if he thinks he will be perceived as less of a man for not changing his mind and going straight into a political brick wall without a helmet, then he should know the only people who will care are the political junkies. And after his time has come and gone, he’ll be a mere footnote. Any person entering the political arena is choosing to be a dual personality, one private, one public. Sometimes political promises are better off broken. Your public life lasts as long as the voters want you, your private life is with you forever. From experience, I say to not only Mr. Vinsko but others, choose wisely. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first. If you don’t, the costs you might incur will be more than an election result.
Dr. Joe Leonardi is an author of fiction, and health related topics. He has a website Fat then Fit now. He a professor at Luzerne County Community College, an area chiropractor and 2006 Republican nominee for the 11th Congressional District.