December 1- 7, 2005
political notebookThe Replacements
Who will replace state Supreme Court Justice Russell Nigro? Nigro, the only justice on the seven-member court from Philadelphia, lost his retention election in November's general election because of a backlash from voters in the western part of the state against state legislators who voted a pay raise for themselves last summer. (The legislature later repealed the raise.)
Nigro's unprecedented defeat means he'll leave the court at the end of the year so now it's up to Gov. Ed Rendell to nominate his replacement. Chances are that the interim justice will be from Philly. After Rendell selects, the Senate must confirm. The new justice can only serve an interim term until a new justice is elected and takes office in 2008. Rendell may appoint an interim justice to fill out the term and the appointee could then run for the seat.
The last time there was a vacancy was when former Chief Justice Stephen Zappala reached the mandatory retirement age of 70. Former Gov. Tom Ridge appointed William Lamb to fill in until the next election in a deal that prevented Lamb from running for the seat. Democrat Max Baer won the seat in 2003.
This time, though, expect a lot of local ties. Nigro was instrumental in appointing Kevin Dougherty as administrative judge of Philadelphia Family Court. Dougherty is the younger brother of Electrician's Union Local 98 Business Manager John Dougherty. His appointment is good for three years. Since Nigro is leaving, and the court is down a Democrat, leaving the ratio two Democrats to four Republicans, could Dougherty be replaced? "Unlikely," said Art Heinz of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court administration. "That appointment is an order from the court."
No news on Nigro's future plans.Pork and Sausage
Underdog Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Chuck Pennacchio doesn't have the big bucks that Bob Casey Jr. has to run an election, so he is using the Internet to reach votersand potential donors.
Pennacchio, an assistant professor of history and political science at the University of the Arts, is pulling a Howard Dean by sending massive e-mail campaign updates and contribution solicitations.
In the latest e-mail, Pennacchio announces that his campaign is raising $1,000 a day.
His campaign acknowledges that many Democrats are giving to Casey even though they don't believe in his values.
"They apologize for supporting Casey, whose politics they don't share, but lobbying is part of their business and a hefty campaign contribution is the price of admission," reads the latest missive. "And I know people with money who just want to win. It's a gambler's mentality, so focused on imaginary gains that they end up losing everything. The price we pay for pork campaigns is pork politics."
Pennacchio is hosting a $50-a-head holiday reception on Dec. 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Warwick Hotel.
Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum is also using the Internet to get his point across. The Rick Report is a monthly update on all things Rick.
On Nov. 18, Santorum announced that the U.S. Senate passed the Tax Relief Act of 2005, which included charitable-giving provisions that were part of the CARE Act Santorum introduced in the Senate earlier this year.
Four days later, Santorum issued a statement that he received confirmation from the Air Force that the 911th Airlift Wing, based in Willow Grove, will retain its currently assigned eight C-130 aircraft and personnel.
And of course, there's the all-important Rick Factoid. Here's one: "The Santorum family enjoys cooking the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. Karen's special stuffing (complete with cornbread and sausage) is Rick's favorite side dish. But he doesn't leave it all up to his wifehe helps out by carving the turkey. And one of his biggest duties on Turkey Day is cleaning up."
The Rick Report began shortly after the Santorum Must Go e-mail discussion group was set up for the state's gay and lesbian community to chat about their "favorite" senator. They have been hosting "retirement parties" for Santorum.Society Page
A really big shoo is planned for this year's Pennsylvania Society at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York the weekend of Dec. 9. The black-tie gala held in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf is sold out. This year's Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement will be bestowed upon MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews, who will be far more entertaining than any politician could bealthough 2003 Gold Medal recipient, former President George H. W. Bush, proved rather witty.
The weekend will be filled with parties and fundraisers. A big fundraiser is planned for Casey and both Republican gubernatorial candidates, Bill Scranton Jr. and Lynn Swann, will be out in full campaign mode. Look for 2007 Philly mayoral candidates to be there hobnobbing and taking full advantage of access to the money people.