Over the last four years, he's been the subject of 83 posts on this blog. When I guest-hosted Ron Angle's talk radio show on WGPA 1100 AM, he was a regular guest. Rich voted against the midnight legislative payraise, refused to take it, and was rewarded for his troubles by losing his role on several key committees. That may have lost him the confidence of the House leadership in Harrisburg, but he won the hearts of the Lehigh Valley. He was unopposed in 2006 and 2008, when many others had stiff competition.
In 2007, he was rated by readers of this blog as one of the LV's top ten elected leaders. He's a real Democrat. For one thing, he opposes party endorsements in contested primaries. As my state rep., he never refused to duck a call or answer an email. I'll miss him.
Rich's 137th legislative district includes Forks, Lower Mount Bethel, Palmer, Upper Mount Bethel, Upper Nazareth, Washington, Bangor, East Bangor, Nazareth, Portland, Roseto, Stockertown and Tatamy. Unlike most seats, this one could go either Republican or Democrat.
Four candidates - Democrats Frank Scagliotta and Charles Dertinger, and Republicans Donald Albanese and Joe Emrick - are after Rich's seat. Ironically, most of the attacks so far have been inexplicably directed at the person who is stepping down, Rich Grucela.
Grucela has been attacked, anonymously, for his supposed ties to and endorsement of Frank Scagliotta, who is lovingly referred to elsewhere as "Skank." Grucela was apparently spotted in a Scagliotta classroom. "They sat in the back of the room with their heads together."
Today I received an email from Rich that is "for the record." He told me he received calls from 5 of 6 potential candidates for his job and spoke to them all. In fact, Republican Donald Albanese "and his wife came to Harrisburg and visited my office …… I had them introduced from the house gallery and told them where the Republican caucus met … I also introduced him to some very good R friends of mine who got a big kick out of it ….. They said they always knew I was 'nuts'……Don’s son coached our son in little league baseball."
Rich has also tried to be helpful to both Dertinger and Scagliotta. "I have given both Frank and Charles advice and told them events they should attend ….. I also have given them names of people who I believe would support their views."
Did he meet with Scagliotta at Bangor High School? Yes. "For the record I did visit BAHS and Frank’s class …. He called me with a question about how to fill out his ethics form b/c of his referee’s income …. It was a bad weather day…. The students came to school but b/c of the weather (a late storm brewing that day) there was to be an early dismissal…. Frank’s class had very low attendance and he chose to show a video already in progress when I arrived."
Who has Rich endorsed? "I have only endorsed Jack Wagner for Governor and no other candidates."
Grucela has avoided endorsing anyone and has tried to be helpful to everyone. He realizes the voters make this call, not him.