Progressive Summit: Lt. Gov. Candidates Make Their Pitch

lt gov forumHarrisburg City Councilman Brad Koplinski, former Congressman Mark Critz, State Senator Mike Stack, Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith, former PSU assitant football coach Jay Paterno and Harrisburg city adviser Brenda Alton took the stage to debate progressive issues in their quest for the Democratic nomination for Lietunant Governor.

Two, in particular, emerged from the pack as ready and prepared to be the Lieutenant Governor – Koplinski and Stack.

Stack talked about his experience in the State Senate, where he’s been for the last 13 years, fighting for progressive issues, he said.

“I was fighting Tom Corbett before it was cool,” he said, making the claim that he was the progressive hipster in the bunch.

“Tom Corbett hasn’t met an underdog that he hasn’t wanted to kick under the bus,” he continued. “In his first week in office, he wanted to get rid of the Adult Basic program.”

A question about the General Assembly’s Women’s Health Caucus was perfectly suited to his experience and he was able to talk about the progress of the bills.

Koplinski was also able to provide substantative answers, based on his experience as a Harrisburg City Councilman and then working in the Department of Justice, under the Civil Rights Department.

All of the candidates agreed that voting reforms were needed to increase ballot access, but Koplinski stood out here as well with an answer that earned a few chuckles from the audience that was chowing down upon free boxed lunches.

“We’re behind the times here in PA,” he said. “We’re like the wild west on campaign finance reform.”

There were brief fireworks, as expected, between the progressive audience and a stage full of candidates who were unwilling to support a fracking moratorium – all but Alton and Koplinski.

“There are economic benefits, but at what costs?” she asked.

Koplinski’s support of the moratorium was conditional – that new wells were banned until there was thorough research on what was going into the water. In the event that fracking could be done safely, he proposed a high severance tax, even on par with the 24% extraction tax found in Sarah Palin’s Alaska.

The other candidates qualified their “no’s” on the moratorium by mentioning the important economic impacts of the industry, which was of particular interest to Smith, who hails from Bradford County, the largest producer of natural gas.

“It’s been a tough issue for me. I have a lot of experience on the issue from the economic to environmental side,” Smith explained. “I want to see DEP fully funded and on the flip side, I want to see that we are developing our economy and creating jobs.”

The forum seemed to stumble Critz a bit, who answered that he wasn’t sure to at least two of the questions and then made the assertion that the Lt. Gov. existed solely as a tool in the governor’s tool box, but that he was able to help the ticket win in the general election and would learn about the office before he took it.

Critz was able to talk a great deal about his campaign experience and the following that he has in Southwest PA, underrepresented on the dais today as State Rep. Brandon Neuman could not attend. After running in four multi-million dollar campaigns in the area, Critz believes that advantage will be a major boost to the electability of the Democratic ticket.

But Alton pointed out her unique advantages to the ticket as well, striking chords with the audience by pointing out that she was the only woman and African American on the stage and therefore had overcome immense adversity.

Paterno gave many vague answers to questions as the newest entrant into the field, but made a strong pitch on his devotion to public service, citing the influence of his mother in molding him into someone actively involved in education and charity.

“The only reason you should get into politics is to help people in trouble,” he told the audience, riffing off of a John F. Kennedy quote.

10 Responses

  1. We should only have primary elections for governor. Then the nominee can select who they want as a running mate. Lt. Gov. primaries are a waste of time and resources.

  2. 80 year old Bradford County resident Max Chilson asked Mark Smith and the other Bradford County commissioners for help when his water turned black when drilling started by his house. Mark Smith did nothing to help him. Residents asked them to set up a contamination hotline they could call with water problems. Smith and company turned them down, he did help organize a rally for gas leasers who were being ripped off from Chesapeake energy. He’s willing to help those with the money. Brad Koplinski gets my vote and support.

  3. This really should not be an elected position. Catherine Baker Knoll was not in a position to be Governor and in 1978 the dems nominated Bob Casey, except it wasn’t THE Bob Casey it was a nobody Bob Casey who got elected because people thought it was the real Bob Casey. I don’t see any of these people in 2016 ready to be Governor in an emergency. Luckily Schweiker, Ridge’s LT was ready when he had to take over. The Gubenatorial nominees should pick their LT.

  4. @ David
    To me tools work hard and gets things done, you just didn’t finish your sentence.

  5. Robbie, assumed “diversity” was probably supposed to be “adversity” – but I’d cut them a break. Having to listen to multiple Lt. Governor candidates wax poetic (or in the case of Critz, apparently not wax at all) would probably cause anyone’s eyes to glaze and thought process to cloud.

  6. The only substance Mike Stack brings to anything is his knowledge of how to fleece taxpayers and get his car washes paid for with tax dollars. He’s a worthless bucket!

  7. Paterno’s mention of how his mother influenced him was worse than awkward. He thought he was being clever by saying that one of his parents taught him … laundry list of values (including helping children)… then closed with “it’s not the parent you would think. It was my mother.” Ba-dum-bump

    First: no one there would have assumed his father taught him any values, particularly regarding the welfare of children

    Second: why remind everyone of his dad, and then point out that his dad didn’t teach him these values.

    Third: in general, he seemed to have no clue about the audience to whom he was speaking.

    Brad displayed an impressive array of experience prior to his current role in Harrisburg.

    Critz’s said he could help the Dem nominee beat Corbett. He offered to “be a tool in the toolbox”. This leads to the obvious bumper sticker: “Critz is a tool ! “

  8. An African-American woman may have overcome obstacles and may be an example of diversity. But an African-American woman did not “overcome immense diversity” (“diversity” is a positive result, and “overcome” denotes an action surmounting a negative situation). That is the way the English language works. I understand difficulty for ESL speakers/writers, but not for those who are journalists.

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