Commonwealth Court Candidates Gear up For Final Month
By Sari Heidenreich, Contributing Writer
With just under a month left before election day, Commonwealth Court candidates Anne Covey (R) and Kathryn Boockvar (D) are each busy making their way around the state, but political scientist and pollster G. Terry Madonna said nothing short of $3 million and a statewide television and radio campaign is going to earn either of the candidates statewide recognition.
“This is little more than a crap shoot at the moment unless a candidate gets a lot of money and does commercials,” said Madonna, Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. “The voters have no clue who these candidates are. And I’m not saying this meanly. But it’s a big state. ”
The Associate Press reported last week that Covey has raised $199,000 while Boockvar raised $192,000. Both women are attorneys from Bucks County.
Madonna said he does not expect either of the candidates to come up with the millions needed to launch a statewide campaign.
“But you never know. Politics is funny,” he said.
Madonna said candidates for these positions don’t normally have statewide recognition so he expects voters to do what they’ve done in previous years: skip this item on the ballot or vote along party lines. So, the race will likely be decided on which party turns out more voters.
There is likely to be a higher voter turnout in areas where there are strongly contested local government races, but whose favor this plays to depends on if these races are in red or blue ares of the state.
The absence of a competitive city-wide general election race in Philadelphia may also boost GOP chances.
Madonna said he expects to see a greater percentage of those registered Republican — rather than Democrat — turn out to vote. However, when “there are simply a million more Democrats” than Republicans in Pennsylvania, that doesn’t necessarily mean much.
But Pennsylvania GOP spokeswoman Valerie Caras said she feels Covey and the state party are “going to be able to turn out that Republican base … And I think in this environment that is so toxic to Democrats, hopefully [we’ll] pull over some D’s and I’s as well.”
Caras said Republicans statewide are running a 10 to 11 point advantage over Democrats according to an internal poll, something she sees as Pennsylvanians “completely rejecting the liberal Democrat agenda.”
But Pennsylvania Democratic Spokesman Mark Nicastre sees things differently, writing that “Pennsylvanians will reject Republican candidates in November,” given that party’s tendency to hand pick “corporate special interests over middle class Pennsylvanians.”
For Covey and Boockvar, the last weeks of the campaign are about getting to as many counties as they can.
“Mostly what it’s going to look like … [is] lots and lots of travel,” Boockvar said. Traveling has “been one of the things that I’ve always felt strongly about. I’m running for an office that is going to hear cases from all 67 counties and I’m trying to visit as many of them as possible.”
Covey echoed this sentiment.
“I’ve been working hard since last year,” Covey said. “I’ve put a lot of miles on my car … and now I’m attending the various Fall dinners and I’ve been asked to speak at a number of seminars so I can reach a broad spectrum of individuals across Pennsylvania.”
For Boockvar, this time of traveling is more about selling the office than selling herself. She said when talking to voters she always tries to explain to them what the court is and how it affects them.
“I talk about that far more often than I talk about my self because I really want voters to feel a connection with this office that they’re voting for … The more people I talk to about how this affects their life, the more invested people become in this race … because everybody shares the impact,” she said.
The Commonwealth Court is a court unique to Pennsylvania that deals with legal matters involving the state, local governments and regulatory agencies. It hears lawsuits against the state and typically focuses on issues such as taxation, right-to-know, elections, banking, insurance, utility regulation, labor practices and workers compensation. Their decisions can be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Covey and Boockvar’s campaigns, as well as the state parties, decline to give specifics about the home stretch.
Boockvar’s campaign manager Brad Koplinski said they “hope to do communications on as many fronts as we can, but what that is specifically, we can’t say.” And Bucks County Democratic Chairman John Cordisco said they have a “very well thought-out GOTV [get out the vote] plan,” but didn’t want to divulge details.
Nicastre said the state party is “going to really look to compliment some of [the candidate’s] efforts with field work” and by working with county parties in several areas throughout the states.
Caras said the Republican party is “still evaluating what our final push is going to be going into Election Day. You will probably see a combination of a bunch of different thing. We’re going to focus on getting out our voters and I think that there are number of different ways that we can get there.”
While neither campaign specifically outlined a plan to use mailers or radio ads, Covey said her “first choice is to get out and meet people one-on-one and then from there, in the final days and weeks, I’ll leave it to my campaign manager and strategist.”
Election day is Tuesday, November 8.