The LuLac Edition #2040, April 29th, 2012
A GO AND A NO GO
There were two write in campaigns on the spring primary ballot this past election season. In Lackawanna County, the GOP there staged a strong effort to get Ray Nearhood on the ballot in the 112th to oppose Kevin Haggerty. Haggerty displaced Ken Smith in the Democratic primary. Here’s a statement from the Lackawanna County GOP: Based on unofficial returns, Ray Nearhood was successful in his effort to secure the Republican nomination for Representative in the General Assembly for the 112th Legislative District. Mr. Nearhood released the following statement: “I would like to thank the hundreds of voters who took the time to write my name in for State Representative. I would also like to thank the many volunteers that helped make our write-in campaign successful. The results of today’s tabulation are incredibly encouraging. “Voters from across the district came together in support of my candidacy and to guarantee that they would have a choice in the November General Election. We all know there are many problems in Harrisburg. My work in the private sector, background in public administration, and real-world experience working with municipalities and counties across the Commonwealth uniquely qualify me to offer real, common sense solutions to those problems. “I look forward to the opportunity to discuss those solutions throughout the upcoming campaign season.” Nearhood has a herculean task against him in the fall. But at least the GOP made the effort and got a candidate slated.
In Luzerne County, the situation of incumbent Karen Boback and challenger Mark Barrett was a little different. While Ken Smith had all that he could handle with a primary challenger in his own party, Boback was unchallenged in her primary effort. So when Democrat Mark Barrett started making noises about running an Independent write in, the advantages of incumbency kicked in for Boback. Almost overnight, a flyer and mailer was sent out instructing voters how to write in Boback's name on the Democratic side. That was an easy task for some Democrats in the 117th given Representative Boback’s incumbency, her past relationships in the educational community and her husband’s very long and distinguished business career in media sales. Because of that organizational outreach and name recognition, it was an easy sell for Democrats in the district to give Boback a vote as a write in. But the main factor was that Boback was not distracted by a primary challenger this time. Barrett mounted a grassroots effort that tagged the constituency that is the anti gas drilling coalition. He made a good push but many politicos say he started too late. Plus, he made an earlier attempt to get on the ballot before the primary but fell short. The Democrats in the 117th as well as other districts where there is a voter registration deficit have to start early if they have any hopes of challenging an incumbent, let alone trying to knock them off with a write in effort. My advice to minority parties in districts like this is start gathering your candidates resumes well before your Christmas parties in an odd numbered year. The incumbents are essentially running all the time and you need a head start just to stay competitive. President’s Day weekend is not the time to start organizing.
We have to comment on the passing of Monty Evans. Evans was a well known area resident who was extremely popular. At one point, midway through the late Tom McLaughin's first term as Mayor, Evans' name was being bandied about as a possible challenger to the popular Mayor. McLaughlin's top aide, the late Bob Wilkie scowled at one meeting I attended saying, "We don't need a Mayor wearing a tuxedo driving a snow plow!" To my knowledge, Tom McLaughlin or Monty Evans never drove a snow plow but that was the type of recognition he had in the community. He was always active in building up a community.
Evans had a bar in the 80s at Toby Creek on the way to Dallas. It became the place for politicos, social climbers, pretenders and contenders to gather. I had been there just a few times and always found it to be an upper class type Cheers type of joint. What I liked best was the ability to just meet and greet people you wanted to see and ignore the rest. Monty’s was also a judgement free zone. If one had 10 drinks and needed to be carted home by a cab or just ordered a diet coke (as was the case with me) no one made a comment. No judgements. Just good fun, conversation and if it was your wish, no one minding your business. Evans had a flair and I read in his Times Leader obit that his “Monty Says” column was “social media in its infancy”. That is a compliment that I’m sure Mr. Evans’ is enjoying somewhere in the afterlife. But then again, he always was ahead of his time.