Rendell’s Hole-In-One

Columnist : Albert Paschall

Last winter I had about 300 cable channels installed. They changed me from being an ordinary couch potato into a deep baked one loaded with butter and sour cream. When spring finally arrived I knew I needed to get outdoors. After a tennis match with young neighbors that left me with a black eye and a badly bruised ego I decided to take up golf. On TV golf looks so easy. Stand up, pick up the club, whack the ball and get to the 19th hole to tell war stories.

A brave friend of mine volunteered to give me some lessons. Let’s just say I wasn’t born to this game. But Sunday afternoon on the driving range after about my 100th slice, I broke a ball straight for about 70 yards. I felt born again.

I guess I could take inspiration in continuing from one of the most persistent guys I know: Governor Ed Rendell. The guy just doesn’t quit.

He got beaten out of $200 million in his Growing Greener II initiative, you can count on one hand the number of school districts that are buying into his Act 72 and now he’s trying to advance Pennsylvania’s 2008 Presidential Primary election from April up to early March.

The Governor claims that Pennsylvania has lost its clout in Presidential Primaries. Last year when the primary was in April the race was already over. Bush and Kerry had already been anointed in other state primaries. The Governor believes that if we bring Pennsylvania into Super Tuesday with other big states like California, Ohio and Massachusetts the voters in the Keystone State are going to have the power. Or is it that the Governor wants the power?

Unless Pennsylvania’s Republicans jump start a candidate soon or something extraordinary happens, right now it looks like there’s nobody out there who can push Rendell out of the Governor’s mansion next year. Should Bob Casey carry the day over Senator Rick Santorum, Rendell should be positioned for some national momentum.

Except Howard Dean is Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. With Rendell’s nationally televised gaffe in 2000 when he called for Vice President Gore to end his judicial battle for the presidency and Dean’s intolerance for anyone who compromises his ultra liberal views, Rendell is out of the game.

Unless Pennsylvania’s Presidential Primary is advanced to March in 2008. Then Rendell could be in a position to deliver a key swing block to whoever he chooses. Shrewd as Rendell is, that’s likely to be the candidate who promises him a high profile Cabinet position, maybe even the number two slot on the ticket. With a growing number of Democrats starting to wonder about Senator Hilary Rodham-Clinton’s viability as a national candidate, it’s looking to be a brutal primary.

The problem with the Governor’s plan is the affect it will have on local races. Nominating petitions will need to be filed by December 2007 and disputes will have to be resolved over the Holiday Season to get campaigns underway in time for the March primary. Local campaigns for offices like county commissioner, borough council or township supervisor will be carried out during the winter months and a vote in early March in local races, some often decided by just a few dozen votes, could have their outcomes changed just by bad weather.

Rendell’s plan to advance Pennsylvania’s Presidential Primary in 2008 could be a hole-in-one for the Governor’s national ambitions and put him right back at the top of the game. But local politicians better keep their eyes on Rendell’s ball. Someday for them, Pennsylvania’s 2008 spring primary could be more like my golf game: a lot of bad slices.

Albert Paschall
Senior Commentator
The Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc.

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