What goes on at a Republican picnic? Oh, the usual. Some were reading passages of the Constitution to each other. Others were reciting the Bible or just pledging allegiance. There's always some target shooting. But I never expected to see so much food.
"Eat up, Bernie, eat!"
They had actually roasted a pig for the occasion. They gave her a name, too, although I've been sworn to secrecy about that.
Now you may think Republicans are just a bunch of jerks, but they were really nice. After showing me the secret Republican handshake, they made sure my plate was always full. But I was wary. I know what happened to Nicholas Cage in Wicker Man, so I was ready to bolt.
Most of the candidates were there, including State Senator Bob Mensch. Having never heard him before, I expected a dud. I was wrong. In a matter-of-fact style, he explained that growing the size of government is no way to create jobs, and neatly ticked off these facts in support of his argument.
* Pennsylvania has the second highest number of unemployment claims in the nation.
* Pennsylvania is ranked #45 in job creation. Four years ago, we were ranked #44, so we're going in the wrong direction.
* Our 9.9% corporate net income tax puts us in a tie with Iowa for the highest corporate income tax in the nation.
* Rendell has increased the budget by 40% over his years in office.
* The feds will no longer fund about $800 million in Medicare and Medicaid claims, leaving that expense to the state.
"We can't keep going in that direction," he quietly said, noting that our bad business tax policies must change. Asked about the jobs created by the new casino industry, Mensch noted the gambling industry "does not pay much more than McDonald's or Burger King."
Mensch's message would resonate anywhere, which may explain why he is one of the rare Republicans able to garner union support.
Mensch was a tough act to follow, and none of the other candidates came close.
Ron Shegda (running against Bob Freeman) spoke about gas while his sister kept filling plates with cookies and cupcakes and taking them out to their car. I'll bet they had one hell of a bake sale. Shegda, in a blinding tie-die shirt, droned on while his sister scooped up the goodies. Eventually, someone from the exec committee signalled him to wrap it up.
Matt Connolly (running against Lisa Boscola) brought his cute daughter, who wowed everyone with her singing. He didn't need to speak after introducing her.
Dave Molony (running against Joe Brennan) asked how many people there were from South Bethlehem. Not one person raised a hand. "That's what I'm up against," he lamented, referring to Joe's heavily Democratic district. Dave brought his good-looking kids, too, who must take after their mother. Dave said he wants to get Harrisburg's "taxaholics" into a 12-step program.
Pat Browne (running against Rick Orloski). "If it takes 101 days to pass a budget, it takes 101 days." Huh?
Joe Emrick (running against Charles "don't call me Chuck" Dertinger) had just finished working out. "Just remember the 3 Bs. Be awesome. Be like me. Creatine." Emrick also bragged that in Upper Nazareth, were he is a Supervisor, taxes have actually gone down 7%, which does buck the trend. I think he called Dertinger a girlie boy.
Justin Simmons (running against Mike Horton). "I knocked on 10,000 doors." How many answered? Justin had to be home by 5 PM. They were having macaroni.
Ron Angle (running against everyone). "Did I tell you about my run-in with the judges?" No sooner had he said that than sirens began to wail from a distance. "Morganelli's coming for you!" someone shouted.
That's when I slipped away.