Everyone's heard of "Road Rage." What we're witnessing in Pennsylvania is "Voter Rage." Pennsylvania taxpayers are mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore! They will vote out incumbents in record numbers in 2006, starting with Gov. Ed Rendell.
Normally when you get a song going through your head, it's annoying. But I don't mind having the pulsing beat of Queen's No. 1 chart-topper from 1980 humming through my head because I know every time I hear Freddie Mercury sing "Another One Bites The Dust," another of Pennsylvania's Larcenous Legislators is history.
So far, 11 members of the state Legislature have come to the realization that they’re too ashamed or too scared to face the voters in 2006.
As I predicted last fall, you will see a long line of legislators opting to retire or pursue other interests rather than attempt to defend the indefensible 2 a.m. raid on the state treasury on the morning of July 7, 2005. The Nov. 18, 2005, vote to repeal the pay hike doesn’t mean a thing. The crime was committed in July and no amount of remorse or desire to make restitution to the taxpayers is enough.
Everyone's heard of "Road Rage." What we're witnessing in Pennsylvania is "Voter Rage."
Pennsylvania taxpayers are mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore! They will vote out incumbents in record numbers in 2006, starting with Gov. Ed Rendell and making their way through House and Senate leadership down to the drones who made the pay hike possible. And every day that the Legislature fails to deliver on property tax relief is one more incumbent about to lose his or her job.
If there's one thing that drives politicians more than money, it's ego. That's the main reason these veteran Legislators, some of whom have been feeding at the public trough in Harrisburg for decades, are giving up their lifestyles of the rich and famous. They simply cannot bear the thought of being rejected by voters in their home district. Their egos just can't stand it.
That's why 11 Legislators have decided to give up $72,000-a-year jobs that require you to show up for work an average of 77 days a year. That's why they’re willing to give up the luxury automobiles and $130-a-day in meal money (not to mention those invitations for free breakfasts, lunches and dinners at the local Kiwanis or Lions or Rotary club meetings).
Here's a list released Jan. 4 by the Associated Press of the Legislators (10 in the House and 1 Senator) who are calling it quits:
— Rep. Kevin Blaum, D-Luzerne, minority caucus secretary.
— Rep. Raymond Bunt Jr., R-Montgomery, majority caucus secretary.
— Rep. Thomas C. Corrigan Sr., D-Bucks, House member since 1987.
— Rep. Jacqueline R. Crahalla, R-Montgomery, leaving after two terms.
— Rep. Robert J. Flick, R-Chester, chairman of the Consumer Affairs Committee.
— Rep. Victor J. Lescovitz, D-Washington, minority chairman of the Local Government Committee.
— Rep. Sheila Miller, R-Berks, chairwoman of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.
— Rep. T.J. Rooney, D-Northampton, chairman of state Democratic Party.
— Rep. Bruce Smith, R-York, chairman of the Game and Fisheries Committee.
— Rep. Elinor Z. Taylor, R-Chester, majority caucus chairwoman.
— Sen. Charles D. Lemmond, R-Luzerne, chairman of the State Government Committee.
The list will grow in the coming weeks. I predict at least 50 new House members and at least 15 new state Senators will be elected in 2006, regardless of how many incumbents are on the ballot. Gov. Ed Rendell will also pay for his role in the Great Pay Heist of 2005.
You'll also see the end of the line for some big names in state politics, including Sens. Robert Jubelirer, David Brightbill and Robert Mellow and Reps. Samuel Smith, William DeWeese and Mike Veon. Next to Ed Rendell, nobody has done more harm to Pennsylvania than Speaker of the House John Perzel, but sending Perzel back to his waiter job at a Philly restaurant might be too much to ask for in 2006. We may have to settle for Perzel's demotion to the rank-and-file once the new legislators are sworn in. And let's not forget that two more state Supreme Court Justices will face retention votes this year. I can’t even think of their names right now, but it doesn't matter. Voters will vote "no" to all incumbents, including judges.
The re-election rate for members of the Pennsylvania Legislature was 90 percent before the pay-jacking. Sadly, 8 out of 10 incumbents never faced opposition in their bids for re-election. All that is about to change as voters get their revenge for decades of abuse from self-serving politicians. PaCleanSweep, the non-partisan group helping candidates challenge the incumbents Legislators reports it has recruited 99 candidates across the Commonwealth who have declared their intention to seek office in 2006, including 65 candidates planning to run against incumbents in the May 16 primary election. For a variety of useful information on how you can become a candidate, visit the group’s Web site at www.pacleansweep.com
An average of 16 of the 203 House members opt not to seek re-election every two years, usually because they’re too old or they’ve picked enough money out of taxpayers' pockets. But don't weep for these hard-working public servants. They'll still get taxpayer-funded pensions and taxpayer-funded health insurance coverage as well as life insurance and long-term disability care. And many of them will return to Harrisburg as lobbyists for big corporations that want to do business in Pennsylvania.
The best way to keep track of who is "retiring" is at one of two excellent political Web sites, www.grassrootspa.com, which is updated frequently throughout the day, or www.politicspa.com, which appears to be updated once a day.
And don't hesitate to encourage your local legislator to consider retirement. It will save us the trouble of riding the bums out on a rail.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas