Diven v. Fontana v. Rauterkus:
I never knew that Michael Diven and Wayne Fontana were such horrible human beings until the Harrisburg aparatchiks for both political parties descended on this region to tell us all their faults. Voters in the 42nd senatorial district have been flooded with reams of ugly literature and all of us have been subjected to negative TV ads that depict these two nice guys (yes, they are both nice gentlemen) as the devil incarnate. It's the battle for a Senate seat between Diven, the Republican, and Fontana, the Democrat (and Mark Rauterkus, the Libertarian), and both political parties are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to win.
Fontana should win tomorrow, but Diven is the kind of Republican who can pull an upset. The Rs think their man is up by two points, while the Dems think Fontana is ahead by double digits. Sadly, the race has come down to trivial accusations that sometimes border on the laughable. Diven shows a picture with his fiancee and some kids (not his own), and somehow he's committed some campaign fraud. Fontana, one of 15 members of county council and the most outspoken against reassessments and former Allegheny County chief executive Jim Roddey (R), is somehow the author of every action in the county that raised property assessments. It's almost enough to make you vote Libertarian!
Behind the scenes, the battle is between Republican and Democratic state operatives. Having won a special state senate election back in Allentown on April 5, the GOP would like nothing better than to pick up another one, especially in a city-suburban district like this one. The Dems are throwing everything at it to keep that from happening. And one guy who has a lot riding on this race is Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato, the Democrat who does not need a political loss in his own neighborhood. Onorato has raised more than a $100,000 for the Fontana camp and tossed in some dollars of his own. If nothing else, after the rather bland mayor's race, this battle has been entertaining.
Jon Delano, always the gentlemen, tip toes around the race coverage in his email blast today. I could never hope for anything better than the above posting from Delano. To me, that is like hitting a grand-slam in the bottom of the ninth, with the other team ahead.
The entire posting, PSF, is in the comment section.
Yes, Delano is right in that there has been a lot of "operative" action in the race with Diven and Fontana. The opponents are close to puppet status, sadly. There are a lot of issues that I still don't understand, (like why the Ds would put so much money into a guy like Fontana who is so anti-choice), but I'm not going to air them out on the eve of the election. I'll get to the head-scratching elements later.
Finally, to the last word of his post, "entertaining." I wish that this race of ours was entertaining. We had ONE debate that was put on TV. One. I needed five, then the race would have been entertaining, really.
I was the clear victor in the lone TV debate. If we had a handful of public opportunities, such as should have happened with PUMP, AIA, Urban League, PIIN, within the Trib, Courier, The Front, CMU/Pitt/Carlow/Point Park/RMU, UJF, and on with WPTT, KDKA, TV 11, QED, DUQ, WTAE, PCTV and KQV -- then -- we'd ALL would be buying advertising. Furthermore, the race would be a three-way deadlock.
I know. I know. I shouldn't pick battles with those who buy ink by the barrel, nor with those who have big bandwidth, like Comcast. But, the journalist in me is again frustrated with the global efforts of voter education and media play in certain times in certain races.
This time, globally, I have little but praise for the Mayor's race coverage. Les, Hop, and Dan got enough buzz and got their message out. People and instituions went out of their way to be much more inclusive than in 2001 when I saw Josh, Leroy and Earl get skunked.
In the PA Senate race, I didn't get skunked everwhere. But, our race (and coverage from all three of us) did get zippo in certain quarters.
Finally, it is not like I'd never be satisfied. I am easy to please. I live in the city afterall. My driving theme, I want things to be better. They have improved in some sectors. More improvement is welcomed.