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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