Monday, January 27, 2014

Better Luck This Year

Following on the club's dynamite gubernatorial forum at Carnegie Mellon yesterday (here's some good coverage from PoliticsPA), here's a recap of the club's last gubernatorial forum and endorsement, in 2010.

The club co-hosted the forum at the Wightman School  Community Building with the University of Pittsburgh College Democrats and the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh. KDKA's Jon Delano moderated. All four candidates in the race at the time participated, including then-Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and then-state auditor general and Beechview resident Jack Wagner. (The Post-Gazette's story is here.)

Joe Hoeffel speaking in 2010
(photo from 2 Political Junkies blog)

That April the club threw its support behind the race's most progressive candidate, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, who the club also endorsed in 2004 for U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, Hoeffel lost the primary to Onorato, finishing fourth in the four-person field with 12.7 percent of the vote. Onorato went down in defeat in the general election to current Republican Governor Tom Corbett.

Dan Onorato speaking at the club's
2010 endorsement meeting at the
Schenley Park Skating Rink Lodge

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Anybody but Casey, Apparently

Philip J. Berg on the campaign trail, 1990

 In 1990 the club endorsed Philip J. Berg for governor over incumbent Bob Casey, Sr. Berg, a Montgomery County attorney, had his hat handed to him in the primary, getting 22 percent of the vote to Casey's 78 percent.

The archives don't indicate what Berg's progressive credentials or appeal might have been in 1990, but today, he is best known as a leading conspiracy theorist. For example, Berg brought a racketeering lawsuit against George W. Bush and 154 other people charging them with complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Another lawsuit challenged Barack Obama's eligibility to become president (i.e., Berg's a birther). There's much more wackiness at his Wikipedia page (

So why did the club back Berg? Probably because he wasn't Casey. Despite Casey's working class background and Democratic Party dedication, he was a staunch pro-life advocate; an absolute no-no for most club members. (During the campaign, Berg charged that Casey, a Catholic, might be controlled by the state's Roman Catholic bishops.) In fact, two years after the election, the U.S. Supreme Court considered Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a major case that upheld almost all of the abortion prohibitions that Casey signed into law.

Berg on Obama's trail, 2010, from the Birther Report website.
Another somewhat curious twist of the 1990 endorsement was the striking similarity between the club's endorsement mailer and the county Democratic committee's slate card, which had Casey in the top spot. Through the years the endorsements of the club and the main party have diverged many times, but they're usually easy to tell apart at the polls and in mailboxes--the club's slate is on yellow paper, the committee's list on red, white and blue card stock. Here's how they looked in 1990:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rendell Got Early Club Endorsement for Governor

21st District Attorney of Philadelphia - Ed Rendell meets with
newspaper staff in Philadelphia Evening Bulletin conference room.
(Photo from
Next Sunday, January 26, the club will co-host a forum for eight Democratic gubernatorial candidates at Carnegie Mellon. To mark the event, this blog will take a brief look at some of the club's endorsements for governor, starting with its 1986 backing of then-Philadelphia District Attorney Ed Rendell.
Bob Casey Sr. - 1986

As the Pittsburgh Press article below reports, the club--"one of the most liberal organizations in the state"--gave Rendell 50 votes at its endorsement meeting versus 16 for his main opponent, Robert P. Casey. Rendell put on a good showing in the primary with 40 percent of the vote, but he lost to Casey, who finally prevailed after three previous Democratic gubernatorial primary losses. (In 1978, Casey lost the primary to former Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty, who lost the general election to former Western PA's U.S. Attorney, Dick Thornburgh.)

Rendell went on to serve two terms as mayor of Philadephia before becoming Pennsylvania governor in 2002, again with the club's backing, beating Casey's son and current U.S. Senator, Bob, Jr.. Curiously, Rendell's failed 1986 run for governor goes unmentioned on his Wikipedia page.