And…right back into campaign season

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No rest for the weary, as Election 2014 kicks into high gear, already

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
UTMikeColLogoNow that we’ve gotten that pesky election out of the way, it’s time for the campaign to get started.

Think I’m kidding?

Then why is Gov. Tom Corbett in the county today, kicking off his 2014 campaign? And why has the jostling for state legislative and congressional seats already begun?

Traditionally, the day after election day is the kickoff for formal campaigning (except for presidential races, where soon it will be okay to pop out of the womb and form an exploratory committee), to allow for a head start without stepping on the the candidates running in the previous year. The especially includes the 3,246 Democrats running for governor.

So while Gov. Tom is in the area tomorrow, you can bet every other pol or likely pol with eyes on 2014 is either planning his or her campaign, or is out there trying to raise money. A number of local elected officials need to also spend quality time “getting to meet” their new constituents, courtesy of new legislative boundaries that take effect with the 2014 elections.

Whether you live in Birmingham and have discovered that Dan Truitt is sort of now your State Representative (or in Kennett, and just getting to know Steve Barrar) — or one of the likely candidates for the new 74th State House District in greater Coatesville/Downingtown, expect a flurry of activity in the coming days and weeks.

So what to expect in 2014? Well, for starters, ignore the conventional wisdom.

A lot of insiders are suggesting that Allyson Schwartz is the front runner and will easily beat Corbett a year from now.

Nope.

First off, I’m not convinced that Corbett loses to anyone, despite his current poll numbers and pessimism of even some Republican insiders I’ve spoken with. I don’t think he’s in a dire situation — and frankly only see Rob McCord as a worry (he’s the only Democrat I think might play OK in the T — the middle, socially conservative area in the middle of the state).

Were he my political client, I’d suggest he lean hard on the legislature to get his transportation bill done, privatize the liquor stores and get something done on public pensions, or…run against the “overpriced, oversized, underworked, do-nothing legislature,” which is slightly less popular these days than toe fungus.

With every single house member up — and many running in somewhat new districts, making GOP house members explain why “they” can’t seem to get out of their own way to voters could give Corbett his “Chris Christie” moment — making him seem like a true leader stymied by political hacks.

Despite a rocky first term, Corbett is a fairly bright guy and now seems to have surrounded himself with a lot of political pros. I wouldn’t discount him taking that route if the legislature continues to not play ball — something a couple of the more vulnerable incumbent state house members might want to note.

* * *

Going through Tuesday’s election results a couple of things stood out: 22.7% turnout — and that’s just a percentage of voters who are registered. Arguably less than 20 percent of folks over the age of 18 in the county showed up to decide who would run our municipalities and school districts, sit on county courts and lead important county departments.

The argument that “my vote doesn’t count” certainly doesn’t fly with a number of very close elections around the county — South Coatesville and Downingtown Borough Council just to name two.

But the number of uncontested races — dozens and dozens — kind of make it harder to blame people for not wanting to show up and vote. It’s asking a lot of voters to show up and find virtually no choices on the ballot once you get past state and county races.

It’s important that voters have choices for school board and municipal elections. Aside from the fact that it makes those elected accountable, it also leads to a public discussion of issues — hopefully — although a recent trend of candidates avoiding candidate forums and interviews is troubling.

One would hope that both parties make a renewed effort to recruit candidates in areas where they tend to be minority parties in 2015. While these positions sit at the bottom of the ballot, in many ways they are the bedrock of our democracy.

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