Thursday, November 13, 2008


A Captain Renault post: Lots of news reports and speculation in the last few days on the battles for the elected leadership posts in the House Democrat and Republican caucuses. I can't imagine there is much interest in the general public for who gets elected to most of these leadership positions within each caucus (I understand the elected Caucus Administrator, for example, is in charge of parking spots and office space). But the political junkies and the lobbying community hang on every reported word written. Every half hour there is another rumor spread throughout the Capitol, some by design and some by ignorance.

In the Democrat caucus the obvious fly in the ointment is Bill DeWeese. DeWeese is damaged goods for so many reasons that even with Dwight Evan's considerable influence he appears to have little to no chance of being re-elected as majority leader. DeWeese has already been quoted in a few articles talking about perhaps seeking a lower ranking leadership post like Whip if he can't win the majority leader spot. (I wonder if he has any experience parking cars?) DeWeese definitively gave up any hope of becoming House Speaker again and publicly endorsed Keith McCall for that job. The rumor is that McCall, Evans and DeWeese met after the election and DeWeese and Evans asked McCall to allow DeWeese to run for Speaker with McCall's support and in return they would back McCall for Majority Leader. It looks like McCall rolled them both and announced for Speaker soon after that rumored meeting.

From an outside observer's viewpoint, it doesn't seem to make much sense for the House Democrats to elect DeWeese to a lower ranking leadership position if they won't elect him as majority leader. If DeWeese is such a political and public relations liability that he can't be elected Leader, he would only be very slightly less radioactive as the Democrat's third ranking position as Whip. Radioactive is radioactive. It may take a little longer as you are exposed to the danger, but you still end up dead.

The Republicans seem to be having a much more orderly (and sane) leadership election. It looks like Sam Smith will be re-elected easily as Minority Leader and Mario Civera will continue to be the Republican Appropriations Chair. Mike Turzai from Allegheny County, who ran the House Republican campaign operation this year, appears to have an easy track to be elected as Minority Whip. The current whip, Dave Argall, has stepped aside and declared his intention to seek the Jim Rhodes Senate seat.

Now for the sane part. All indications, news reports, and rumors seem to point to the likelihood that John Perzel will be shut out of any Republican leadership post. Perzel once ruled the roost in the Republican caucus but his bullying and his arrogance has caught up with him. Perzel raised a ton of money this election cycle by convincing (foolish?) contributors that he would soon be back in power. The Republican leadership election next week should put that fantasy to rest for good.

It's a long, long way from Speaker to a back-back-back bencher in the Republican caucus. Nobody deserves it more than John Perzel. Umm...except Bill DeWeese.

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