The race in the 112th legislative district (which covers the Midvalley, Dunmore, and parts of Scranton) has, in my view, been a lock for Frank Farina from the beginning. He’s got Tom Lukasewicz, who was for the Landfill before he was against it. And then there’s Kevin Haggerty, who
probably definitely needs counselling.
The solid political strategy for an incumbent would be to simply keep on keeping on. There’s no need to wade into controversy, no need to engage in anything risky, and definitely no need to hold bizarre press conferences dragging out an already damaging story.
That last bit of advice was disastrously ignored by the Farina campaign last weekend.
Backstory: Farina took per diems for travel reimbursement when he went to Penn State to watch a game with his family. He did have legitimate state business there, but that is, of course, overshadowed by his extra-curriculars.
The per diem system for state reps is awful and needs reform. Things like this get people pretty upset. So Frank decided to apologize for taking one. The easiest way to do that is to simply offer a press release. It could’ve said something like this: “While I visited Penn State on legitimate state business, in the interests of removing any questions or concerns about the visit, I reimbursed the state for the per diem.” Easy. Story over.
But, no. Farina called a press conference, which guarantees that the story gets more air time. And it also allows for the possibility of appearing foolish publicly, which happened. We get our apology (but if he did nothing wrong–since he was on state business– why apologize?) and then we get a comparison to JFK and a mention of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Huh?
And then it ends with a campaign speech about his qualifications.
It’s things like this that make me actively contemplate starting a political consulting business.
I say all this as a Farina supporter. Frank got a bill passed that was near and dear to my heart. It involves mandatory training for teachers on suicide awareness and prevention. He got the bill through as a freshman representative and that’s impressive. That’s enough for me to stick with him, barring something egregious (and reimbursement for travel doesn’t fall into that category).
Besides, the other two choices don’t make any sense. Lukasewicz is now very anti-landfill, despite a demonstrable record of supporting it whole-heartedly for many years. Haggerty is, well… himself. I’ll be posting this week about his record as a State Rep. Hint: He barely ever did his job.
To sum it up: like the title of my post says, this race is a disaster.