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:

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