I don’t have time to do a full write-up of the Lieutenant Governor debate from the Progressive Summit this weekend, but that’s almost a blessing because I really have but one simple political insight to share.
There are many candidates in the race for Lieutenant Governor, but only two real choices worthy of your consideration.
One choice is Mark Critz.
At the debate, Critz basically declined to address in depth any of the real issues that the Lt. Governor deals with. He looks forward to learning more, after you elect him.
His view of the race – and I’m not going to say he’s wrong about this – is that no voters actually care about what the Lt. Governor does, and he doesn’t either. He sees his job as “a tool in the toolbox” (a phrase he used repeatedly) of the Democratic nominee for Governor.
In this view, the Lt. Governor’s job is to be a political surrogate, to bring geographic balance to the ticket, and to raise money for the ticket.
I’m being negative obviously, but again, he’s not wrong, and this definitely is a viable political strategy for winning the Lt. Governor primary and the general election for Governor. Critz spoke to what Democratic voters ultimately care about – retiring Tom Corbett – and put approximately zero weight on communicating any kind of competence on the very real policy issues that the Lt. Governor is responsible for.
The better choice is Brad Koplinski.
Fuck what you heard from any of the other candidates. Brad Koplinski brought more policy substance scarfing pizza with Carl Feldman and me on Friday night than all the other Lt. Governor candidates combined brought to Saturday’s debate.
Koplinski’s no slouch as a political communicator. He got some of the biggest applause lines at the debate, and he won the Keystone Progress straw poll, discredited as that poll is for producing a John Hanger win.
But more importantly, all the issue questions that the other candidates waffled on or said they needed to learn more about (after you elect them, naturally) got clear and detailed answers from Brad.
Pardon board, Marcellus Shale taxes and regulations, municipal reform issues – nobody knows more about this stuff than Brad, and more importantly, nobody else has better values than Brad in these areas. Areas that the Lt. Governor is directly responsible for.
Wonk out here if you want to learn more, but in short, Brad’s for smart sentencing reforms, he’s for an “unreasonable” tax of 6-10% on natural gas production, and he’s for regionalization, shared services, and more local revenue and policy tools for PA’s older cities, boroughs, and first ring suburbs.
These are your choices.
If you think the Lt. Governor’s role is just a tool in the political pageantry toolbox, and you don’t care at all about the policy choices, vote for Mark Critz.
If you think that the Lt. Governor should be an effective political operative, but also have strong policy competence in the issue areas he’ll directly preside over, vote for Brad Koplinski.