The ReThink Blog

Starting from scratch in politics and science


The Pennsylvania Ballot 2010 - Page 2

Two years ago, I attempted to take a fair look at the candidates for president in the 2008 general election. It was a success, because even those who disagree with my politics agreed that my information was accurate and my approach was balanced (indeed, my predictions for President Obama--both positive and negative--have proven to be largely accurate). This year, I'd like to try the same strategy concerning the upcoming election, only this time I will focus my energies on the Pennsylvania ballot, as nobody but the president and Sarah Palin appear to be running for president this time around (and neither will be on the ballot, strangely enough). Though I will be focusing mainly on the governor and U.S. Senate races, I will devote some time to the races specific to my voting districts, including a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and one in the State Senate. I will also take some time to examine Pennsylvania's sole ballot initiative this year, which is a call for a constitutional convention.


Tom Corbett and Dan Onorato
Tom Corbett and Dan Onorato

Tom Corbett, the current Attorney General of Pennsylvania, is well-known for his opposition of the recent healthcare legislation, as he was one of fourteen attorneys general to file suit against it once it was passed. When it comes to the economy, he has stated that he prefers free enterprise over government stimulus. He believes in strong fiscal responsibility and outlines several plans to curb spending on his website. While he did suggest that he would consider raising the payroll contribution tax, he has pledged time after time that he would not allow any new taxes. He has made tackling unemployment his number one issue, and states that he will put job creation first through "meaningful tax, regulatory and legal reform."

On the other hand, there is Dan Onorato, who supports the healthcare law, but explains on his website that he will make fiscal responsibility--especially where implementation of the healthcare law is concerned--a major priority. He also believes that using tax incentives is a good way to stimulate job creation, that curbing the influence of special interests and "streamlining" are the best ways to reduce spending, and that it is important to improve accountability and transparency in government. Where education is concerned, he seeks to double the number of entrants in early childhood programs while minimizing the impact on property taxes.

Both candidates have strong records in their previous positions, and it really comes down to where you stand philosophically. Corbett believes in reducing the state's intrusion into the free market, whereas Onorato believes that more intrusion in the form of "streamlining" is the way to go. Corbett sees the healthcare law--specifically the individual mandate--as unconstitutional, but Onorato is talking about how to implement it rather than how to defeat it. Both candidates are interested in fiscal responsibility and have detailed and comprehensive plans for dealing with government spending, and both candidates are convinced they can bolster the job market without causing undo strain on the budget or taxpayer. In short, there are reasons to vote for either one, but based on my own opinions--in particular, of the healthcare law and the general value of the free market--I plan to vote for Tom Corbett.

State Senate (District 18)

Lisa Boscola and Matt Connolly
Lisa Boscola and Matt Connolly

The websites for incumbent Senator Lisa Boscola and political newcomer Matt Connolly are pretty minimal when it comes to the issues. Therefore, I'm relying more on their debate appearances, most notably the one that aired on my local PBS station. The key issues for both candidates are jobs and the economy, and they both talk about reducing waste and lowering taxes. In truth, however, I find that Lisa Boscola is the more coherent and concrete of the two candidates, whereas Connolly seems more interested in attacking her than in proposing his own ideas. Therefore, I'm going to vote for Boscola, because I think she has done well in her previous terms and has shown a willingness to address the issues that are important to me. While I don't fully agree with her on some minor matters, I feel like her plans to bring jobs back to the commonwealth are more coherent than Connolly's, and I fully support her independent spirit.

The Constitutional Convention Question

I'll be honest and admit that I don't know much about the Pennsylvania Constitution, aside from the fact that most Pennsylvanians are unhappy with it. From what I have read, the call for a constitutional convention is intended to address the budget crisis, term limits, widespread gerrymandering, corruption, and certain archaic legislative rules of procedure. Seeing as how any changes offered by the convention would still have to be voted on by both the state government and the people of Pennsylvania, I don't see how calling a convention can do any harm, though I can see how it can do good. Therefore, I will be voting for the constitutional convention.

Final Thoughts

In our increasingly polarized political landscape, it still surprises me how closely our candidates tow the party lines on so many issues. I admit that it was hard to take the candidates at their word this time around, but I forced myself to do it. And despite my dissatisfaction with the Republicans, I find myself agreeing with them more when it comes to the important issues of today, like the economy and healthcare reform. Indeed, in all but one of the above races, I'm voting for the Republican (the exception being Lisa Boscola, who is a Democrat). On top of that, I strongly dislike the idea of one political party having too much power and believe that we can see examples of both major parties going too far with their power in the last few years.

Still, I do want to reaffirm my differences with the Republican party, because though I believe this election cycle is all about the economy, jobs, and federal spending, I worry that a Republican majority will try to insert social dogma where it doesn't belong. Things like same-sex marriage, stem cell research, science education, drug deregulation, and abortion are areas where I rarely see eye-to-eye with the Republicans. If they win big next week--which they probably will--I sincerely hope they don't misread their mandate as badly as the Democrats misread theirs in the last two elections.

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-e. magill 10/26/2010

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