Mike Welsh is running for the state house in Allentown's heavily Democratic 132nd district. His opponent, incumbent Jennifer Mann, is mentioned in at least forty Morning Call reports over the same period. Until voters set her straight, this ambitious politician was running for both state house and state treasurer simultaneously. That certainly accounts for some of the coverage.
But not all.
Morning Call columnist Bill White acknowledges the power of the incumbent. "They have much more money for TV advertising and mailers. They tend to turn up on TV or in the papers in the course of handing out giant checks or other official activities." Challengers like Mike, on the other hand, get scant coverage. "[I]t has to be frustrating to keep trying and trying to get your message out -- in the back rooms of diners, in quiet hotel meeting rooms, on busy street corners -- knowing that in many cases, almost no one will show up, and no one will hear about it."
It wouldn't be so frustrating if, now and then, the MSM would cover a frickin' news conference. Forty to one is an appalling comparison.
And so there was Mike Welsh at The Bethlehem Diner on Saturday morning, looking a little flustered, hoping I'd show up. I had already stiffed him once. I was originally supposed to meet him on Friday, but overslept. I'm lousy, too.
Mike has learned the MSM will just ignore him. When he called a news conference over Mann's penchant for using her state rep seat to launch campaigns for every other office on the planet, nobody bothered to show up. I guess that's not news.
I really had only one question for Mike. Are you out of your mind?? What on earth makes you think you have a snowball's chance in a heavily Democratic district against a seemingly popular Democratic incumbent, especially at a time when voter registration offices report that this area is becoming increasingly blue?
Welsh's answer was simple and to the point - Allentown is in big trouble. Its police force is too small. FBI records indicate that, even at full strength, its force will still be inadequate. Welsh notes a legislative measure to add 10,000 police officers, and asks why Mann is not listed as one of the sponsors. This has been hailed as a "landmark" proposal that would signal a new approach to public safety. Does Mann care? Does it bother her that one Allentown mother won't let her three toddlers play outside, even in broad daylight, out of fear they might be killed?
I'll be meeting Mike again for a full blown interview. I'd also really like to know what the hell Jenn Mann is doing for Allentown's poor. I know she excels at raising money, got that $10,000 grant for Parkland ice hockey and wants to bring an ice hockey rink downtown, but how does that help Allentown's mostly minority communities? Imagine what Allen High School's band could do with that money.
Seriously. Ice hockey? That sounds about as brilliant as Allentown's boxing program for 5 year olds.
If you have any questions for Mike, please leave them in the comments.