With a race for governor in Pennsylvania and congressional elections in the commonwealth and New Jersey, it would be a shame to see a repeat of past midterm elections' paltry turnout. Beyond urging you to vote Tuesday, here are The Inquirer's recommendations.
For reasons publisher Gerry Lenfest explained a week ago, rather than endorse either of the candidates, The Inquirer contrasted their positions and ours on key issues.
For example, while Gov. Corbett has resisted calls to tax the state's booming natural-gas industry on the grounds that doing so would threaten an economic windfall, challenger Tom Wolf supports a 5 percent extraction tax that could yield $1 billion a year to help fund basic education.
The two candidates are similarly at odds on income taxation, with Wolf proposing to make the state's flat tax more progressive by exempting an unspecified level of earnings. Corbett has not supported changes to the income tax and has sharply criticized Wolf's refusal to specify the details of his proposal.
On pensions, the Republican governor says he would call a special legislative session if reelected to consider his proposal to institute 401(k)-style plans for public workers. But while Corbett considers the pension situation a crisis, his Democratic opponent says there's no need to panic; benefit reforms already in place and perhaps refinancing can address the unfunded liability.
On liquor control, Corbett has advocated joining 48 other states in turning over wine and liquor sales to the private sector. Wolf opposes privatization, saying the state should address popular dissatisfaction by improving the booze bureaucracy and making more efforts to take advantage of its purchasing power.
The Inquirer has backed Corbett's efforts to address pensions and privatize liquor sales, while noting his lack of progress on both fronts. We support Wolf's plans to tax gas extraction, make the income levy progressive, and provide robust education funding.
As a freshman senator,
(D., N.J.) has shown the energy that made the former Newark mayor a national figure. He's sponsored successful legislation, brought home funds for worthy purposes, and made it a personal mission to help break the partisan divide that has made this Congress one of the least productive in history.
Running against Booker is Jeff Bell, whom voters might remember as the Republican who defeated Sen. Clifford Case for the nomination but lost to Bill Bradley in 1978. Bell has studiously assessed the U.S. economy and has ideas to improve it. But he is no match for Booker when it comes to education, employment, and criminal-justice issues affecting urban areas across New Jersey and America.
(R.) has ably served the Second District for nearly 20 years and deserves reelection. In the race to replace retiring Third District Rep. Jon Runyan, former insurance executive and Randolph Mayor
(R.) has the skills to be an effective member of Congress.
(D., Camden), one of the more active members of the state Senate, is the better choice to represent the First Congressional District, which includes Camden, one of the poorest cities in New Jersey.
Pennsylvania: Second District residents should avoid the risk of reelecting 10-term incumbent Rep. Chaka Fattah (D.), who faces an investigation of alleged misuse of federal funds, by voting for Philadelphia schoolteacher ARMOND JAMES (R.). Deep knowledge of Bucks County, where he was a commissioner, has made MIKE FITZPATRICK (R.) an able representative for the Eighth District. The independence Rep. PATRICK MEEHAN (R.) showed on gun control and the government shutdown adds to his credentials to represent the Seventh District. And State Rep. BRENDAN BOYLE (D., Phila.) has the legislative experience and focus to replace retiring Rep. Allyson Schwartz in the 13th District. In the Sixth, RYAN COSTELLO (R.), who has learned bipartisanship as chairman of the Chester County Commission, is a good fit to replace retiring Rep. Jim Gerlach.
As bad as the Pennsylvania legislature's reputation was, it got worse when State Sen. LeAnna Washington (D., Montgomery) was charged with using taxpayer-paid staff to plan political fund-raisers. Washington, who pleaded guilty and resigned last week, told a complaining aide, "I am the f-ing senator. I do what the f- I want." Not anymore. Fourth District voters have an able potential replacement in public-interest lawyer
(D.), a Cheltenham Township commissioner.
Voters should say
to Public Question 1 to let the courts jail or release defendants based on their risk to communities, not whether they can make bail. They should also vote
on Public Question 2, which would divert some business-tax revenues to acquire more open space for preservation and storm protection.