Crow on the menu?

Columnist : Albert Paschall

I’m hoping a couple of pals of mine are good in the kitchen. I think they might be inviting me to dinner and I know what’s on the menu. I’m eating crow and I don’t know if they’re going to bake it, broil it or just serve it up cold. But however it gets dished out, it’s mine.

Newly elected State Representative Jacqueline Crahalla and Montgomery County Republican committee vice chair Marie Cavanaugh deserve to serve it up as they are the master chefs that cooked up the surprise election upset of self-described independent, maverick, Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Democrat John Lawless.

In my perfect hindsight I can see Lawless had his own problems. His constantly changing party loyalties with his bottomless ambitions were sure to confuse voters. But in his own district the political pundits, led by me, saw him as the man of the people and the easy winner for a 6th term in the Pennsylvania House.

But as the clock ticked up to 11PM on election night Crahala crept to a 63 vote victory that held in last week’s recount in Montgomery County and I began to hope that she and Cavanaugh are as good in the kitchen as they are at the polls.

But how did two sweet little grandmothers burn one of the orneriest campaigners in the state’s history? They let Lawless be Lawless. Crahalla wore out shoe leather knocking on doors talking about her record as a township supervisor while Cavanaugh tried to raise money, organize committee people and get out the vote. Meanwhile Lawless cooked up conspiracy theories about the local police being manipulated to harass him by Crahalla’s husband, a former state cop who is now a district justice. When his minions were caught hanging signs that said ‘Republican John Lawless’ the incumbent lamely claimed they were recycled signs from his last campaign and he was just too cheap to buy new ones. His fans wrote screeching letters to the editor accusing Crahalla of being a good old boy when it’s obvious to anyone who has ever met her that Jacque Crahalla is anything but anybody’s boy.

The undeserved, shameless trashing that Crahalla and her husband took at the hands of the Lawless campaign backfired just 63 times out of 17,300 votes cast in the 150th House district, just enough to push her to a sweet victory.

But even if her feet are sore Crahalla better not let them rest for too long. If anybody has Wannabe Fever it’s John Lawless. Someday he’ll be back. While he may be too bruised for this year’s Montgomery County Commissioners race he might have an open field if State Senator Connie Williams joins the Rendell administration. You’d think I’d be out of the prediction business but I’ll bet dinner that if no other options open up to him he’ll be running hard at Crahalla in ’04.

In the meantime these ladies have worked hard they really shouldn’t go to the trouble of making dinner for me. Maybe if I invite them out to dinner I can choose the restaurant and only hope crow isn’t on the menu.

Albert Paschall
Senior Commentator
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc.
[email protected]