W HEN GOV. ED Rendell came to Wilkes-Barre two weeks ago to unveil his plan for campaign finance reform, we were pleased but skeptical.
Campaign donations and lobbyists have had lawmakers’ ears for decades, and we think it’s about time someone with political power put their weight behind limiting the big money’s influence. Rendell, who is still smarting from a 101-day budget standoff with lawmakers, wants to harness public dismay into proactive reform.
Additionally, it told us that Rendell, with 13 months left to his two-term stint as governor, was not going to spend his remaining time passively.
Who would be better to take the lead than the politician who raised more money – $73 million in two campaigns for the governor’s mansion – than anyone in state history?
However, what resonates well in Wilkes-Barre doesn’t necessarily produce the same vibes elsewhere. In the state’s two largest regions, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the media was less than receptive and expressed heaping skepticism.
“The idea of Rendell as an agent of change is like President Barack Obama changing course and saying health care reform is a bad idea,” railed a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review political columnist.
The Philadelphia Inquirer noted Rendell “has taken full advantage of the state’s absence of restrictions,” while a Philadelphia Daily News columnist suggested the governor still has $2 million lingering in campaign accounts that he could use toward his reform effort.
The irony is sinfully appealing: Using money given by donors and lobbyists to diminish their future influence on state government.
Observers always will question politicians’ publicly expressed sincerity. But isn’t it possible that someone who spent a long career in politics – or any career, for that matter – recognizes there’s a better way to do things?
But we have to wonder why a veteran politico who has his share of successes – expanded health care, his work to enhance renewable energy sources and education reform – would target campaign finance and related issues.
Is it likely that he’s serious and that he will get earnestly to work after the holidays?
We hope so, because the cry of the cynics and detractors gets tiresome, especially when we want to believe what our leaders tell us in person.
The irony is
sinfully appealing: Using money given by donors and
diminish their future influence on state