My view on the local Congressional races

Americans don’t like Congress, but keep sending the same people to D.C.

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
In these highly partisan times, it seems likely that many voters will be voting one party, one ticket, putting ideology over competency.

Ironically, most polling shows that we Americans hold our Congress in very low esteem, yet seem to continually send representatives to Washington, D.C. on the basis of a handful of issues, not whether we think that they can do the job effectively.

I think that’s a mistake. Again, as I did yesterday with my take on local state legislative races, I’m giving you my opinion on the five federal races. Again, these are not the endorsement or opinion of The Times as a whole, but just my personal point of view. You are welcome to (and likely will) take issue with some or all of what I say.

U.S. House of Representatives

16th District: This is a surprisingly easy pick. There’s a pretty large number of things I disagree with Rep. Joe Pitts on. He’s probably too conservative for the population of the area, which tends to be fiscally conservative and socially moderate. But, I will say this: he gets around. He doesn’t hide in his office — despite claims to the contrary. He knows his way around D.C.

Ayrana Strader is clearly a smart, young woman. I certainly appreciate her service to country. My concern is her utter lack of experience in holding public office. While we might prefer her take on any number of issues, I doubt in her ability to get the job done if elected — Congress is not exactly entry-level in politics.

While we could wish for Joe Pitts to moderate his views to better match those of his district, Strader just doesn’t seem ready for prime time.

Reluctantly, we’d vote for Pitts.

7th District: If the horrific gerrymandering of the 7th District were the only issue, George Badey would be our pick over Patrick Meehan.

Of course, it’s not. While Meehan is a pro in the world of politics, having been a Delaware County District Attorney and a U.S. Attorney, he seems to have a lot of trouble  connecting with the average voter. A large swatch of people don’t seem to know who he is and why he’s running, an unforgivable sin considering his bankroll and a new congressional district designed just for him.

Badey seems like an earnest guy, maybe a bit of an old-school pol — the kind of guy who can give a stemwinder, but then find a way to work with the guys on the other side of the aisle. Like Pitts, he might be a bit out of the political leanings of the district, in this case too liberal, but I get the sense he’d be a fighter for the district regardless of ideology.

As an attorney, he has a better sense of the deal. I’m not thrilled with his lack of experience, but Meehan’s skills and experience don’t seem evident after one term, either.

George Badey gets my vote, Tuesday.

6th District: They keep coming for Jim Gerlach, but somehow he survives.

I think I know how: Gerlach is a sheep in wolf’s clothing. He mostly bangs the drum on conservative issues, but at the heart of things he’s pretty moderate and matches up with the larger views of the area as a whole. I don’t know that’s he’s wildly effective — after a number of years, he’s not a prominent member. But he knows constituent services, skills honed as a state representative and state senator and he does a solid job.

Manan Trevedi is a bright, personable man. Personally, I tend to agree with him more than Gerlach on the issues. But again, Congress isn’t an entry-level job. I’d be more comfortable sending Trivedi to Washington if he had some sort of elective experience. We face too many issues right now to allow much in the way of time for on the job training.

While I think the 6th District would be well served with either man, I give the edge to Gerlach.

U.S. Senate:

Just on the basis of his terrible campaign to date, U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr. probably deserves to lose.

But l think he’s a better senator than politician and like many, thought Republican Tom Smith would be an easy opponent. However, the self-made millionaire has poured his own money into the campaign and is making Casey sweat.

Truthfully, it’s hard to take Smith seriously, though. Its one thing to be a conservative, as U.S. Senator Pat Toomey is, and to embrace the extreme positions of the Tea Party. Interestingly, despite seeming philosophical differences, Casey and Toomey have been an effective paring in the U.S. Senate, working together on behalf of the commonwealth.

I can’t see Smith — despite being a fellow Republican — playing as well with others and not pandering to the extreme and sometimes bizarre policy positions embraced by the Tea Party.

One would hope Casey learns not to take anything — or anyone — for granted in the future, but he deserves another term in the U.S. Senate.

I’ll be voting for Bob Casey Jr.

Tomorrow: the race for the White House.

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  1. Tom Miller says:

    Mike, lets get your journalistic act together here. John Murphy is a great replacement for Joe Pitts. It doesn’t require a degree in communications to discern this but it does require paying attention to important issues that you and I care about. Paul and Gayle have some really valid points and you could probably learn a lot from them because obviously you need to touch base with more people in our community. Term limits are needed more than anything and to fight the status quo Pitts needs to go.

  2. Jay SPencer says:

    There’s another choice than Joe Pitts and politics as usual, John Murphy. Let’s not pretend there’s no choice. Don’t waste your vote on more of the same old poison that’s been making us all sick.

  3. Gayle Morrow says:

    Wonder why “we” keep sending the same inept people to DC? Couldn’t possibly be because “they,” meaning the media, keep forgetting to mention the names of any other candidates but the Democrats, Republicans, or the attention seeker extremes like the Tea Partiers. Unfortunately people vote for the names that are familiar and the media makes certain that the three above are familiar by repeating them over and over, while ignoring any others.

    I’m not certain why they do that. Maybe they don’t know any better and are too lazy to research all the candidates running for an office? Maybe they are told who to write about and who’s name should never be spoken? You did state that this was your opinion, Mr. McCann, which effectively releases you from the journalistic requirement of objectivity, so I guess we can just take it as that and nothing more. Sure would be refreshing though to find more journalists who go to the trouble to cover all candidates in a race. Oh, well.

    For those of you who take voting seriously enough to want to know all of your choices instead of only those fed to you by the media, Independents John Murphy and Jim Bednarski are also running in the 16th. I’m assuming when Mr. McCann talks of Mr. Smith in the senatorial race he of course is referring to Republican Tom Smith, and not the third candidate, Libertarian Rayburn Smith.

    I do agree with the gist of Mr. McCann’s argument that doing the same thing over and over does not produce different results. However, if we truly want change we are going to have to spend a small amount of energy researching all the candidates for office. Better yet, get off your duffs, spend a lot of energy, and run yourself! These third party candidates believed strongly enough to do that. They deserve at least a mention and a look-see, don’t you think?

    • Mike McGann says:

      Ms. Morrow,

      Your points are well taken. Understand it is hard to focus on a candidate that will get 2% of the vote — when, to be honest, we lack the resources to even cover the major party candidates well. As for running for office myself, I have — but as I fit politically neither party, it didn’t go well. When a third, moderate party emerges we might be a break in gridlock — but even that will difficult, as the game is fixed between the two major parties.

      • Gayle Morrow says:

        “… as the game is fixed between the two major parties.”

        This is especially so in PA, but it’s only “fixed” if we continue to allow it to be so, right? Aren’t the 2 major parties dependent on our complacency? Perhaps a bit more of the tea party fervor is in order.

        I’m not certain what amount of resources has to do with mentioning all candidates in a race. I researched online a few seconds; didn’t cost me anything!

  4. Paul Horan says:

    Mike: Your reasoning regarding the support for Pitts is sound, however, we are at a time when each district needs to kick out all the congressmen currently in office and start over. A vote for Mickey Mouse would be better than a vote for Pitts. We need to have term limits so that we follow the design of the originators of the constitution who indicated that each citizen should do his civic duty and serve but return to civilian life after such service, not become entrenched in Washington. In addition, Any congressman that has signed the Grover Norquist pledge should be thrown out of congress. By signing that pledge it hampers the negotiating power of the member to becoming a Johnny one note and incapable of approaching a solution using all the facits needed to solve the economic problems of the day. Pitts must go no matter how novice the opponent.

  5. Ray Farrell says:

    Misstate it all you want gentlemen.

    The fact of the matter is fiscal Conservatives (ie. The Tea Party) want to reform & save Govt programs such as SS & Medicare. Wanting to save something for future generations to enjoy is certainly not extreme. Likewise, not wanting to pass-on mountains of debt to future unborn generation is not bizarre. Also, having a work requirement to receive welfare benefits is certainly not extreme either.

    Poll watchers: you must be a registered voter in the county you will be monitoring to gain access to that polling station. If someone is monitoring a polling station in W. Philly, then they must be a registeted voter in Philadelphia county. It is unlawful to ship someone in from a different county to gain access to said polling place. Stated any other way is untruthful.

    News flash: Wait for it…the Republican Party is 50%…women.

  6. Turk182 says:

    We’re going to lose because of you and the Tea Party, Ray.


    • Mike McGann says:

      Cool it, or you’ll be looking at another time out. There’s no evidence that the Tea Party is inherently racist, although I am questioning the wisdom of Tea Party members showing up at a West Philly polling place. Let’s keep the rhetoric down to a dull roar, please.
      Ray — I think ending Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security — positions widely held in the Tea Party — is pretty extreme. And I can tell you many Republicans privately think they are pushing the party so far to the right that might not be able to compete in national elections in a few years, particularly as U.S. demographics change. There isn’t much future in being the party of angry, older white men — and both parties run the risk of making them selves irrelevant by catered to the extreme left or right, rather than the broad mainstream.

  7. Ray Farrell says:

    When one can’t win the debate of ideas with those you don’t agree (in this case the TEA party) paint you them as “extreme” & “bizarre”.

    On the basis of the terrible job he has done as a U.S. Senator, Bob Casey Jr. deserves to lose this election. His proven failed ideas have done nothing to help Pennsylvania. From Obamacare to environmentalism and beyond, Casey is a lock-step career politician who has done nothing to reach across the partisan divide. His incompetence & ineffectiveness is only matched by those of the Obama-Biden team.

    Tom Smith is a serious man with incredible life & business experience. His leadership as a measured political activist should be respected even if you don’t agree with him. This self-made man will do a much better job than Casey Jr.

    • Turk182 says:

      Geez, Ray, were talking about a group sending “poll watchers” to Philadelphia to ensure the vote (Tea Party to English translation: intimidate minority voters like a 21st Century Klan group) because they can’t win on the strength of their arguments (polls suggest 80 percent of voters have a negative opinion of the Tea Party) and have to resort that sort of tactic. So yeah, extreme sounds about right.

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