Never mind the Presidential race because it’s shaping up to be a fun election up here in the rural and sprawling Fifth Congressional District of Pennsylvania. Our representative, John Peterson, joined the mass exodus of Republicans who are retiring from Congress this year.
Peterson is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Those are the people who decide whether or not a particular spending measure is included in budget bills. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, Peterson secured 37 earmarks that meet the definition of “pork” in the most recent round of government spending accounting for $26.6 million in tax dollars. That figure actually places him somewhere in the middle of the Porkers list. Here in Tioga County, the Wellsboro Hospital got $195,000 for new equipment and two flood control dams (which primarily protect communities downstream on the Chemung and Susquehanna rivers) also got their annual funding to continue operating. In contrast, the top Porker was Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi 1), who retired Dec. 31, with $176.3 million in appropriations.
In fairness the total pork for the most recent budget -- money that typically does benefit the recipient community -- amounted to $17.2 billion. The Iraq War has cost $144 billion in the same time period.
(h/t to POAC for the link to CAGW’s 2008 Pig Book)
With Peterson’s announcement, candidates have been coming out of the woodwork to run for the seat. We have 12 people (all men) running for the seat. If you happen to be in Wellsboro Monday, April 7 the candidates or one of their aides will be at the high school beginning at 6 p.m. for a forum. Tioga County Development Corp. is sponsoring the forum. (That’s me in the purple shirt and silver tie.)
PA-5 is one of the more conservative districts in Pennsylvania (Our Fearless Leader got 61 percent of the vote here in 2004) and is the largest district geographically in the East. Occasionally, a Democrat or Libertarian runs for the Pa-5 seat, but they are lucky to get 20 percent of the vote. Regardless, we have three Democrats and nine Republicans running for their party’s respective nominations. You can’t tell one from another without a scorecard.
So, as a public service, here is your (un)Official Pa.-5 Scorecard:
In Pennsylvania the first party listed on ballots in the general election is the same as the Governor’s party. No slight intended to the loyal opposition; just following custom.
Here is a full list of all of the Pennsylvania races this year if you need it. It looks like Pa.-5 is the hottest race in the state.
Here in the extreme eastern portion of the district, we have encountered some of these candidates already. I’m much more interested in the Democratic nomination since I am not a member of an organized political party – I’m a Democrat.
I have personally met Vilello, who is the mayor of Lock Haven, when our local Democrats gathered at the Gaslight in Wellsboro for Super Tuesday. He seems like a nice enough guy, but when I interviewed him for a story (best link I could find), he seemed to go into a standard stump speech. I generally agreed with what he had to say. ActBlue and Governor Ed have endorsed him (which got the attention of DailyKos). Here are DailyKos’ updates about Pa.-5.
Cahir (sounds like “care”) has also visited Wellsboro. Cahir is a former journalist (that’s a plus for me) and an Iraq War take II veteran. He got an age waiver to join the Marines and finished up his basic training at age 35. Former Senator Harris Wofford and VoteVets.org have endorsed him. Unfortunately, I was at work during his visit to Wellsboro, but I am leaning toward voting for him.
Shaner has not been shy about spending money and has dropped $1.22 million so far. His commercials have been all over the television lately. This guy is the definition of an archconservative. He wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent (probably because he has the money to drop on a huge campaign). He has a problem with gay and lesbian couples sharing their lives together, opposes women’s right to choose what they do with their bodies, and does not want those illegal immigrants here. He also wants to eliminate earmarks, so the hospital can kiss that money for equipment goodbye. (Oh, and he was probably drunk when he left the scene of a crash last year.) This blogger and Kos contributor is probably not going to be voting for this guy.
Someone from Stroehmann’s campaign placed a campaign sign in the front yard of my company’s store without asking permission.
I have also heard that some of the other candidates have stopped through the area, but I have yet to meet any of them.
I plan to go to the candidates’ forum on Monday. Until then, I will be withholding my humble endorsement, but right now I am torn between Vilello and Cahir.
Election Day is April 22, which is also Earth Day. Plant a tree and use the
bullsh** political fertilizer to help it grow.