Friday, March 09, 2007
Mystery Mailing - Judge for Yourself
ACDC Chair Jim Burn made a call to all committee people the day before the endorsement election warning about a deceptive mailing from a Mayoral candidate. I have found a copy of the mailing and posted it. There is a perception that the old guard of the Committee is out to get Peduto. I really wanted to see this mailing because I'm really torn by this race. I see definitive and polar opposite strengths and weaknesses when comparing the candidates. I view myself as progressive and politically liberal. On the other hand I have a major problem with people who conduct their campaigns in a morally corrupt manner. I have been a Committeeman for the better part of a decade, but I question how the Committee endorses candidates. It makes me sick when candidates try to bribe committee votes by donating TV's and DVD players for Ward Meeting raffles, you won't catch me dead at a "free breakfast" for a candidate and I don't really appreciate gifts, such as aprons being dropped off at my door to buy a vote. This is why I was so interested in the alleged "deceptive mailing". Personally, I have found Jim Burn to be a major improvement, professional and a voice of moderation in County Party leadership. Remember, one of the other potential chairs was a convicted felon, so by all accounts that made Burn the progressive candidate. So, I was disappointed when some suggested that Burn was making his call to skew the election. Now I can see why he was so upset.
The front of the mailing looks identical to official ACDC mailings. The back side definitely leads one to believe that the ACDC is supporting Peduto for mayor. Just when you are really impressed and swayed by this guy's ideas you see something like this that proves what he is really all about. If this was isolated maybe there could be a logical explanation, but there is a long history of questionable tactics. This goes back to him managing the infamous Dan Cohen Congressional Campaign, by directing a low road, campaign of mud slinging, homophobic and racially charged inuendo, and general dirty politics. This submarined the political career of one of the brightest and most able young politicians to serve this area. Cohen did what a candidate should. He took the fall. He admitted fault for following the questionable strategy of his campaign manager.
We can also take a look at the last mayoral campaign. As progressive Democrats began to consider whether or not to run, there was supposedly communication between the various potential candidates. It was agreed that the only way for progressive ideas to be championed was for one progressive to run against O'Conner. Based on these discussions, Lamb announced his candidacy with the understanding that he would have the support of the other progressives. At the Candidates' Night at the 14th Ward Committee meeting interested potential mayoral candidates were invited to speak. O'Conner spoke, Lamb spoke, Flaherty spoke and a few fringe candidates spoke. Peduto was in the audience. He was specifically asked by the ward chair if he wanted to speak. He got up in front of the entire 14th ward committee and said he was not a candidate for mayor and was only a candidate for Council. As a result, unlike the rest of the speakers, he did not have to face questioning from the committee members - being questioned by 14th Ward Committee members can be very tough. There is no ducking questions. Days later he announced his candidacy. He split the votes, split the support and split the ability to raise money with Lamb, who was already clearly committed and announced as a candidate. He single handedly destroyed any chance of our city electing a progressive mayor. Do the math, if you added the Peduto votes to the Lamb votes they would have been neck and neck with the O'Conner total.
Ironically people seem to be holding Ravenstahl responsible for the problems in the City-County Building. Had Peduto chosen to throw his support to Lamb we wouldn't have this mess. Ravenstahl inherited the disaster, he did not create it. Both Ravenstahl and Peduto should be held accountable for City Council's inability to act as an effective check and balance. One of these two is going to be out next mayor. There are no other choices.
Being a sports fan in a sports crazed town I will draw a sports analogy. Would you rather have the average veteran, the .260 hitting third baseman or Cederic Wilson, or would you rather have the prospect. With the veteran, you know what you are going to get. You can't really expect him to improve or change, but you can count on his mediocrity and weaknesses. With the young guy, there is a chance he might fall on his face and fail (remember Chad Hermanson or Greg Hawthorne) or he could achieve greatness (remember Big Ben and Sidney Crosby). We know what we are getting with Bill Peduto for better or worse. We will get great ideas, analytical thought and hard work. We will also get questionable tactics (see above), alienation and blame. With Luke we don't really know what we are going to get. We do know that he is bright, articulate and a natural leader, but we don't know much else. How can we. After all he is only 5 years removed from graduating college. Of course that's five more years removed from graduating college than Bill. Some say Luke is just a follower or a puppet with Onorato pulling the strings. Who really knows. He has been mayor for only a few months. It will take until the end of the term to really find out. This means we will either take a risk with the young guy to finish out the term, or we will give Bill a half a term to implement total change.
When you are 27 your future is ahead of you. You have the potential to learn from your experience. You have the potential to gain confidence and independence, but there certainly will be a learning curve and mistakes along the way. With potential, you have hope. At 27 Ronald Reagan was a Democrat and at a few years younger than that Bill Peduto was a leader of the Younger Republicans at Penn State, before dropping out. At 27 Ravenstahl is mayor. At 26 he was Council President. Some feel he is too moderate. Is it possible that as he gains experience that he will be able to implement more progressive ideas? Sometimes it takes a moderate background to be able to implement progressive ideas. When Bill Clinton first ran he was viewed as a moderate Democrat. After 8 years he became the most effective progressive leader of our lifetime.
Bottom line is that I am very troubled by that mailing. If Peduto would try that to trick the ACDC, what might he do to alienate leadership in Harrisburg?