Josh to Jump

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: Well, another one bites the dust.

BE: Eh?

JB: Josh Shapiro, Montco Dem, is leaving the legislature. Wants to be county commissioner. Stories about it in today's Inky and Pottstown Mercury. But there's more to the story.

BE: Oh?

JB: He's a bright young Georgetown Law grad, a reform-minded guy in a place that needs all the bright, reform-minded folks it can get. And he's leaving.

BE: Not good, huh?

JB: Probably good for him. He wants to do things and is frustrated, stuck in a place that never wants to do things.

BE: He tried, right?

JB: Yeah, Philly Mag named him "best state legislator" back in `07.

BE: Which, in Pennsylvania, is like being...

JB: Yeah, I know, a one-eyed man in the land of the blind. Still, he co-chaired the Speaker's Commission on Legislative Reform, got some changes, open records stuff, and wants bigger changes, such as ending lawmakers' huge legislative slush funds, currently around $188 million.

BE: And he's had enough, so he's quitting?

JB: Couple things. Got tired of reform "talk" and little action. Close to Commissioner Joe Hoeffel, who's not running for reelection. Was Hoeffel's chief of staff for five years when Hoffel was in Congress. So Hoffel out, Josh in. Also, Josh has four kids, nine and younger, the fourth just born a couple weeks ago. Wants to be close to home to be a dad. So seek the county gig, stay in the Legislature this year and, if elected, leave next January to be commissioner.

BE: Wasn't he looking at running for state auditor general?

JB: He was. Has like $1 million raised. And he looked at running for U.S. Senate before that Specter party-switch stuff. So, clearly, he wants a higher-office future.

BE: But first Montgomery County commissioner?

JB: Yeah, he should win. He'll take some heat for not resigning his House seat. But unlike in Philly, there's no requirement to quit one office to run for another.

BE: So an ambitious guy on the move leaves the lethargic legislature behind.

JB: Bingo. You haven't heard the last of him. But his leaving is a loss for those pushing reform and pushes the legislature's collective IQ a few points lower.

BE: I didn't think that was possible.

JB: Grrrr.