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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, November 13, 2017

2017 Election - Winners and Losers

Winners

1) Civility.- Tuesday's election was a firm rebuke, not of Republicans per se, but of Donald Trump's presidency and authoritarianism. In the NorCo Exec race, Democrat Lamont McClure defeated Republican incumbent John Brown with 53.8% of the vote. Democrats captured four of the five county council seats up for grabs. The balance of power has switched from a 7-2 GOP majority to a 6-3 Democratic board.

In Lehigh County, Democrat Phillips Armstrong defeated Republican Brad Osborne in the Exec race with 52.69% of the vote

This Democratic surge was seen elsewhere in southeastern Pa. According to The Inky, two Delaware County Council seats - the only two up for grabs - went blue for the first time. Four Chester County row offices also went Democratic for the first time.* Bucks County elected four Democratic row officers for the first time in over 30 years.

Democrats also made inroads in Pittsburgh 'burbs.

What happened in the Lehigh Valley and Pennsylvania is also what happened in Virginia and New Jersey, although New Jersey may be more Democratic.

Last year, billionaire Donald Trump attracted Lehigh Valley already conservative Democratic voters by appealing to their darker natures and appearing less elitist and out-of touch than Hillary Clinton. But after a year's worth of ugly tweets that have made us a laughing stock internationally, citizens have become Trump-weary. Their vote on Tuesday is an early indication that Season 2 of the Trump reality show may very well be cancelled.

"This was a rejection of anger and narrowness inside the Republican Party," said Ohio Governor John Kasich, who is rumored to be interested in Trump's job. "I think the party has to sit down and look at itself and say, 'Who are we appealing to?' If we're just appealing to a handful of people in our own base, I think you don't win. You have to be broader than that."

2) Women. - Though a woman was rejected as a presidential candidate only last year, they were quite popular in this year's municipal and judicial races. Three women - Peg Ferraro, Lori Vargo Heffner and Tara Zrinski - were elected to Northampton County's nine-person county council. This is a first. in Lehigh County, Amy Zanelli was elected as a Lehigh Commissioner, representing west Bethlehem and Allentown's east side. But the big story is that women, Democrat and Republican, swept in the statewide appellate court races.

This was bad news for Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano, who unfortunately came up short in his second bid for the Superior Court. But without question, women are under-represented in Pennsylvania government. According to a recent study by  Representation 2020, Pennsylvania ranks #49 out of 50 states in terms of the percentage of women in elected office.

We did beat Mississippi.

3) Facebook. - Although anyone in high school seems to hate Facebook, we baby boomers in particular  love it. This was the first municipal campaign I've seen in which a concerted effort was made through to reach voters via Facebook, primarily in Lamont McClure's executive campaign. He used it to boost messages and create more of a buzz.

I decided to try it myself.

I created a "Say NO to Seth Vaughn" Facebook page, drawing attention to his abysmal 64% attendance over the past three years and his "So what!" "Who cares!" attitude about his duty. "I'm still going to win the election next year, pal," is what he said to me last year after I took him to task for missing the most important budget hearing of the year, i.e. the one in which Council members propose amendments. I boosted a post on that page on the Friday before the election. It reached nearly 2,000 Northampton County Facebook users over the next two days, resulting in 61 "likes" and 21 shares.

Total cost to me? $32.13. Cost to Seth Vaughn? Hard to say, but he finished ninth of 10 candidates in the NorCo County Council race.

But that's nothing compared to a devastating Facebook video posted by the Northampton County Democratic Committee on election eve. (You can see that video on YouTube). In the span of just three or four days, that video was viewed by 27,000 Northampton County Facebook users. This resulted in 410  "likes" and 99 shares.. This video was created by former Easton City Council member Jeff Warren, a principal at Progressive Consulting Strategies. 

4) Dr. Paige Van Wirt -  She staged an unsuccessful write-in campaign in Bethlehem for City Council against four incumbents who had no challengers. Although she knew she had little chance of succeeding, she gave Bethlehem voters something they previously lacked - a choice. She energized pockets of Bethlehem, especially in the north side. This increased turnout of Democratic voters made her an instant friend with Lamont McClure, whose victory margin in Bethlehem was 1,902 votes.

In addition to promoting her own campaign, Dr. Van Wirt made it a point to stand by other women who were running, and attended the County Council debate.

Although she may have fallen short in her quest for City Council, there may be vacancies in the County soon. She would make an excellent Director of Human Services, and has very specific ideas about combatting the opioid crisis, a topic that stumped everyone else.   

5) Steve Barron -  Northampton County's Controller, Steve Barron, purchased an autodialer several years ago. He has used it to help Democratic candidates reach voters through polling and robocalls. Although campaign finance reports show payments to him, he does not benefit personally. He uses the money received to purchase minutes.

He helped with several robocalls for McClure, including one prepared by DA John Morganelli.     

6) The Lamont McClure campaign. -  Whether you like him or not, McClure's executive campaign is the most masterful executive race I've ever seen. If his stewardship of the County is anything like the way he managed his campaign, the people of Northampton County can rest easy for he next four years.

McClure's opponent, John Brown, used precious campaign funds to repay debt to himself. He also paid out large chunks for a campaign manager and a consultant.

McClure, in contrast, did everything himself. His webpage as free. He wrote his own ads, though he did use a designer. He paid no consultant or campaign manager. He relied on volunteers like Jim Schlener, who planted the signs you saw placed every three feet, and Barron. The money he saved went to more mailers and TV time.

McClure engaged in a classic negative campaign, and was able to paint Brown into a corner on a new jail. Brown, who likes to play his cards close to his vest, was revealed as nontransparent and secretive. By the time he finally ruled out a jail at any location other than where it already is, it was too late.

McClure also is the first executive candidate I've seen to make heavy use of Facebook. By contrast, brown had three different Facebook pages, which just confused people.

7) Northampton County employees and retirees. - There are 2,200 Northampton County employees, and close to 1,000 retirees. They were on the receiving end of numerous county vacancies. At the jail, corrections officers were placed on mandatory overtime as vacancies hit 30. This endangered lives. In addition, Brown decided unilaterally to cut health benefits paid to county workers. Most people in the private sector would have no empathy on this issue, which was rarely mentioned by McClure's campaign. But he made sure that these employees voted. 

8) John Morganelli. - Northampton County's affable District Attorney has been sought out as a Congressional candidate who will bring the same civility and decency to the office that Congressman Charlie Dent has done. Dent is a centrist who leans right. Morganelli is a centrist who leans left. Morganelli is actually popular in conservative circles like the tea party because of his tough stance on topics like crime, the death penalty and illegal immigration.  He has been waiting for this election to decide whether to run.

He has his answer.

Losers

1) Northampton County GOP - Last year, General Lee Snover and the Northampton County GOP delivered the county to Trump after an energized election that included flash mobs and numerous volunteers. That seemed to go to her head. Snover lost sight that her main function is to recruit Republicans and get them elected in her own county. She instead alienated Congressman Charlie Dent, the most popular Republican in the Lehigh Valley. She followed that up with a "Chairman's Dinner" in which she promoted supposed Trump acolytes like Justin Simmons for Congress, while snubbing three of the four GOP Council candidates.

2) The Express Times.  - This supposed daily newspaper provided no pre-election coverage and only began writing about municipal races on election day. The Morning Call provided excellent coverage of the Allentown Mayoral campaign, and there was some exposure of the Northampton County races. Tom Shortell covered the Executive debate and columnist Bill White wrote several columns. But his column focusing on Ron Angle's last place finish in the Council race strikes me as mean-spirited. I admit I am a bit biased here and consider Ron a close friend  But what was the point, except to gloat? Angle has been out of office for several years, so Bill White was hardly afflicting the comfortable.     

3) Justin Simmons. - Simmons has predicated his opportunistic Congressional gambit on the theory that he is a Trump acolyte who will drain the swamp. He thought nothing of trashing Charlie Dent, who helped him raise money and endorsed him in the past. By now, it should be dawning on Simmons that the 15th Congressional district includes numerous Republicans and Democrats who detest Trump, as well as numerous ordinary citizens who will be put off by the way Simmons went after Dent.

4) John Brown. - During his first term in office, NorCo Exec John Brown ran for state auditor general. During his second term, he was going to challenge Matt Cartwright in the 17th Congressional District. His poor showing in Northampton County is going to force him to rethink that strategy.     

5) Allentown - What can I say?  Leave it to the people of Allentown to elect the worst possible candidate for Mayor despite being provided with 54 good reasons from no less an authority than the United States of America to vote him out.
_____________
* An Inky news account indicates that in 1799, these seats were won by the Democratic-Republican party, and confuses that with the Democratic party. In reality, the Democratic-Republican party is the party formed by Jefferson and other Southern aristocrats to espouse state rights, and by extension, slavery.

Updated 8 am. In my original story, I incorrectly stated that Democrats gained a Lehigh County Comm'r sear.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just such nonsense.

Anonymous said...

The employees and the retirees in Northampton County, add in their spouses and families, become one helluva big block of voters. Just employees and retirees are almost 4,000 voters and when you add in their families the numbers are crazy. Why would anyone want to go out of their way to screw over that block of voters? that is exactly what Brown and his cohorts did. That had to enter into the race for executive. It isn't nonsense as 1:10 AM stated. It is a plain and simple truth.
P.S.
Bernie
You did a super job of reporting this election. It is evident why you receive awards for your Blog and your writing. We're lucky to have you

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate Angle did not do better. What do you think of the people that won for county council. The two democratic women will now join Ferraro. Ferraro almost lost and is lucky she hung on. Any surprises?

Anonymous said...

If Melan had done a last minute Robocall to let voters know Ferroro is wanting that Easton fish tank she would be out.

Anonymous said...

Express-Times continues getting worse. Noticed Editor Jim Deegan is no longer with them. An email to him got bounced back. They didn't do a story on that.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice the green McClore signs out before Labor day in the Slate belt?

Anonymous said...

5am. Signs. Really?

Anonymous said...

Bernie O'Hare said:

"In Lehigh County...Democrats also picked up a district Comm'r seat"


Does the fake news ever stop?

Dennis P said...

As I see it , before the 2017 election , Lehigh County Democrats held two out of the 5 district seats and after the election they still held two ... No net gain unless Nathan Brown has become a Democrat ...Nathan Brown won the Republican Primary..

Anonymous said...

Mayor Pawlowski is a good man who has done wonderful things for Allentown.
The people who live there can see his achiviments and have blessed him for his leadership, courage and perseverance asgainst hate and lies.
With the support of the people and in the Light of the Savior, Mayor Pawlowski will triumph in January and continue to make Allentown great again.

Anonymous said...

@0637. Boss Hogg Pawlowski did nothing for economic revitalization in Allentown. You can thank Pat Browne for the NIZ and the economic funding and J.B. Reilly for the fortitude in development. This was done when his dishonor was attempting to run for Governor and Senate; a ticket out of Allentown! His leadership was excellent in extorting money from campaign donors and corrupting the process of government in Allentown. He had the courage and perserverance in trying to evade the FBI wiretaps and surveillance by utilizing burner cell phones. The only light he saw came from the darkness of hell; not the savior! Idiots like you illustrate why Allentown is corrupt and will remain corrupt; as long as they keep electing a lying, deceitful, unremorseful and delusional mayor as Edwin "Fed ED" Pawlowski. City of Allentown, you deserve the gangs, thugs, drugs and shootings; because that is the price you pay to live in Pawlowskiville.

Dennis P said...

Sounds like Anonymous 11/13/17 6:37 AM thinks that the current Allentown Mayor has created a Nirvana like state in Allentown ... Admittedly certain positives have been create in the reign of the current Mayor but we can't ignore the negatives and there have been many... Whether the current Mayor can overcome the 54 indictments that he must answer for and be tried in court for is another matter ... Indeed by our system he is presumed innocent until found guilty of any one or all of the charges .... In my mind Pawlowski has a major hurdle to climb before he would be free to govern without the distractions he now faces ... All I know for sure is that when City Council convenes in January its first battle will be to Choose a President whom will assume the office of Mayor at least temporarily should Pawlowski be forced to resign due to decisions that will be made in Federal Court...We have been told by innuendos in the past campaign that O'Connell thinks that he would be appointed Mayor in the event that Pawlowski is forced to resign due to conviction ... Well it is possible that a Mayor Hendricks, McClean, Guridy, Mota, Affa, Zucal or Robinson might actually like the job once they are temporarily installed and seek to retain it ...

Anonymous said...

Hear, Hear, Bernie!

Especially re: JUSTIN SIMMONS. I voted for him like I did, John Brown. I vowed not to make that same mistake and so did so many other voters, and McClure won. I don't plan on voting for Justin Simmons again, EVER!

All Simmons' opponent must do is run ads showing Justin supporting trump and attacking Charlie Dent.

Anonymous said...

Justin Simmons also was heavily involved in an Upper Milford Township Supervisors race in the heart of his district where progressive Democrat Joyce Moore defeated Simmons handpicked Republican candidate 58-41%. This has to be one of the most surprising results in the valley given his personal involvement in the race and Upper Milfords huge Republican advantage in registration numbers. The race wasn't even close.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dennis, I thought he was a D. Got mixed up.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5 am, McClure's signs were blue. Also, he has a first amendment right to plant them when he wants, but my guess is you have him confused with Brown.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:49, way too soon for a story on the new council.

Anonymous said...

Many of the robocalls likely from Steve Barron's "autodialer" I received violated FCC regulations by failing to mention who paid for the call nor did they include a required phone number at the end.

Anonymous said...

Ed Pawlowski has restored the All American City to a place of commerce and beauty.
His vision is Allentown’s pride.
Forward with Mayor Ed, the people’s man.

Anonymous said...

For the delusional anon at 8:10. A place of commerece and beauty? Walk around the streets of Allentown, off Hamilton Street and at night. You might think different. Also, think about the record shootings and the 17-homicides this year while you take your leisurely stroll around beautiful Allentown. It's Dodge City reincarnated.

Anonymous said...

As a lifelong D, I am offended at the mention that this election was a Trump Lash.

To suggest that this election was a "trump lash" diminishes every Dem who won, their campaign and their support, by making the election about Trump. It was not.

The suggestion that this was a Trump Lash is a slap in the face....the day that people head to the polls and vote on pure emotion, regardless of the names and what they stand for , is how shitty people get elected.

Everyone who won had a message that reached the voters, and turned them out. I guess you are stuck so badly in the nevertrump camp, that you would insult the DEM party everywhere, to despicably suggest that everyone who voted is exactly like you. Pouting about past elections, and voting D out of spite.

You should really get a grip and seek help for your seething hatred.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Ed is proof that LOVE trumps hate.
Blue is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Sorry Bernie Mc Clures signs in the slate belt were green. Held over from 4 years ago. He had green and blue signs.

Anonymous said...

You can do all the analysis you want, and say that McClure ran some kind of new campaign with social media (he didn't), and Paige Van Wirt was the reason for more voters in Bethlehem (she was not), the reality is this was Trump driven.

(BTW: Why would Van Wirt give up a mid-six figure salary as a Doctor to go work for the County? You are dreaming.)

Anonymous said...

Mayor Ed Pawlowski proved Blue is Beautiful.
Blue Baby Blue

Anonymous said...

Blue Foerver
Forever Blue

Anonymous said...

All green McClure signs in my area.
The Pawlowski cheerleader is a troll. Ignore.
Like it or not, this was a lash at Trump. Dems came out in numbers and they were voting against anyone with an R next to their name, including some good ones. 2018 elections will send a stronger message to the GOP that backing Trump in 2020 will be political suicide.

Anonymous said...

10:31a: "Dems came out in numbers and they were voting against anyone with an R next to their name, including some good ones."

So true. This happened in the Lower Saucon Council race. Ron Horizney was voted out, despite him being the best Council member on that board. He has done so much for the Township over his tenure. The Democrat who won by a few votes, barely (if at all) campaigned. He never went to Council meetings. He had no yard signs, no robo-calls, no mailers, no door-to-door solicitation...simply nothing other than a "D" next to his name.

I am a life-long Democrat and even I didn't vote for him in that particular race. I actually assumed that he decided that he didn't want the job but it was too late to take his name off of the ballot.

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:31, can you photograph one of these green McClure signs? I am unaware of any that color.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:39, likely i am. There were numerous factors, including the disenchantment with the Donald.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:08, i have reviewed your complaint with Barron and he is quite certain that he complied with both state and federal law.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:55, you don’t sound at all like a lifelong D, but like someone looking for an excuse to slam me.

Anonymous said...

People of district 15 are put off by the fact that Dent campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare. He gets re-elected and right after, started a bash Trump tour on various MSM news shows. The voters are just angry and fed up with Dent, as reflected by his low poll numbers. So, if you want to slam someone just look at Dent's hand picked candidate. I am sure that he will do and say anything to get elected. As a matter of fact, Mac has been coming out and stating that he is going to follow through with the Trump agenda. Nonetheless, you would never object to your life time buddy Dent's clone that would be detrimental to your constant source of insider information.

Anonymous said...

The Clintons did more to move this country to the right than any republican in my lifetime.
And now we have Trump, and he will be the best thing to happen to the democratic party in 50 years.

Good needs evil to serve as it's foil, without one the other is indistinguishable.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:21, Wrong, wrong and wrong. Charlie Dent was a steadfast opponent of Obamacare and preferred an incremental approach to healthcare legislation. He would repeal and replace if the replacement was not worse than the original bill. Also, Dent has been consistently opposed to Donald Trump, and for good reason. He is not a Republican. He is not a Democrat. He is an authoritarian who wants to use the FBI to investigate political enemies ands deny broadcast licenses to TV stations that are critical. No wonder Trump likes Putin. Dent spoke out against Trump because Charlie really is a patriot, and recognizes that people like Trump are bad for democracy. And no, I do not like MacKenzie precisely bc of his Trump support. The problem is not that some Rs are critical of Trump, but that not enough of them are. But I'll give MacKenzie this much. He was honest about his support of Trump from the start. Simmons only became a Trump supporter when he thought it might help him in a congressional bid. Also, I have spoken to Ryan MacKenzie once. Period. I have not spoken to Charlie since the day he announced his retirement, although I really enjoy his take on things and learn from him.

Anonymous said...

At 7:33 AM Moore shouldn't be so quick to take a victory lap. Not only did she practice law without a license, but she defamed her opponent without substantiating her comments. And I am absolutely sure that some attorney would be more than willing to work pro bono on this one.

Anonymous said...

A lot of new blood in the last few years on county council. Good to have a few people that know what is going on.

Anonymous said...

8:10 am is not only dillusional but is part of design feet on the street is genuine commerce when fact is its just cover for the lead too be slungg!

Anonymous said...

anon 4:01, please write in readable English.

Jeff Fox said...

There were green McClure signs in the Slate Belt. And they were up on public property way before they were legally supposed to be.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have confirmed that McClure's old signs were used in the beginning of his campaign. But your declaration that they were up "before they were legally supposed top be" is inaccurate. Under the First Amendment, that is core political speech and this trumps any ordinance to the contrary. In fact a number of NC municipalities were sued over his very issue, and lost.

Anonymous said...

@10:45am: "So true. This happened in the Lower Saucon Council race. Ron Horizney was voted out, despite him being the best Council member on that board. He has done so much for the Township over his tenure."

I agree. The Council in place now is NUTS! Donna Louder (R) and Priscilla Deleon (D) ran as a united, bi-partisan ticket. Their unified, collaborative effort didn't take long to destruct. All Louder wants to do it get more money for her husband and Deleon wants to continue making enemies.

I was at the last Council meeting. Before a crucial vote, Louder left the meeting (seemed in tears) and came back after the vote was cast. Um, WTF? What's her position?

Meanwhile, later on, the two were yelling at each other after the meeting. Louder had her finger in Deleon's face and called her a "Bitch", meanwhile Deleon lashed back and threatened that she better put her finger down, "or else"!

It's too bad that Josh Popichak from the Saucon Source missed this meeting and didn't report it. O'Hare should grab some popcorn and start recording these fireworks.

Ah, Lower Saucon tax dollars at work.

Anonymous said...

Well you have to forgive Bernie because Brown was also the Democratic nominee

Anonymous said...

Not to blow smoke up your ass but Winner: This Blog. Keep it up.

Anonymous said...

To suggest that this election was a "trump lash" diminishes every Dem who won, their campaign and their support, by making the election about Trump. It was not.

Everyone I know went into the booth and simply pushed the D button as a reaction to Trump. Republicans are the party of Trump and now always will be.

Anonymous said...

including some good ones

There are no "good ones" any longer. IF you are running as an R, you are running as a Trumpist. Charlie Dent understands this.

Anonymous said...

7) Northampton County employees and retirees. - There are 2,200 Northampton County employees, and close to 1,000 retirees. They were on the receiving end of numerous county vacancies. At the jail, corrections officers were placed on mandatory overtime as vacancies hit 30. This endangered lives. In addition, Brown decided unilaterally to cut health benefits paid to county workers. Most people in the private sector would have no empathy on this issue, which was rarely mentioned by McClure's campaign. But he made sure that these employees voted.

Losers -

All of us who pay for them.

-Clem

Bernie O'Hare said...

Clem, without question, you are a loser.