Sunday, August 2, 2015

This judge is a real sport

In the statewide race for Superior Court, one candidate appears to know how to appeal to his base.

This judge is a real sport


Whether you know it or not, care or not, plan to vote or not, there's an election next week for one statewide judge -- a judge of Pennsylvania Superior Court.

This is one of those invisible contests funded by the organized bar, law firms and unions. And, really, what better way to pick a judge?

We are among only a handful of states that elect judges at all levels and, because of our size, these low-profile races are usually decided by factors such as geography, ballot position and gender.

This year, candidates for a Superior Court opening are Republican Vic Stabile, a Harrisburg lawyer and former GOP chief in Cumberland County, and Democrat Jack McVay Jr., an Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge.

Stabile's big money, according to the Associated Press, comes from Philly trial lawyers and Gov. Corbett. McVay's big money comes from labor. Nice to see some things never change.

Who wins? Well, there are more Democrats registered to vote in the state than there are Republicans. And Western PA voters tend to vote in higher proportion and with more regional loyalty than Eastern PA voters.

But Republican Stabile has more dough and, as usual, turnout (can't imagine it'll be anything but miniscule) is key.

Still, McVay got my attention with a TV spot that plays to Pittsburgh's love of sports more than playing up actual qualifications to sit on a state court.

It (to me, oddly) states McVay "has done a lot of things in life he really likes." It notes he played college football at Duquesne, works in the press box at Steeler's games and has thrown out a first pitch at a Pirates game. Photographic evidence is included.

It also mentions his work on Family Court but the emphasis (and images) suggest he should be elected because, well, he's a real hometown sports guy. The ad ends with a robbed McVay holding and lightly tossing a baseball as a narrator says, "Elect Judge Jack McVay. Simply superior."

You can see the ad here. And you can decide if it's a hit or an error.


Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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