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Random Notes: Field Slow To Form; Cummings Ponders 114th

January 5, 2019
Field Slow To Form; Cummings Ponders 114th

Lackawanna County Recorder of Deeds Evie Rafalko McNulty keeps ruling out a bid for county commissioner.

“Absolutely not,” Carbondale Mayor Justin Taylor said when asked if he would run for commish.

Taylor and his wife expect their first child in a couple of weeks, and he wants one more term as mayor, he said.

Every four years, Taylor keeps saying he just wants one more term.

As 2019 begins, the shape of the commissioner race remains largely a blank canvas with only Republican Chris Chermak and the incumbents — Democrats Jerry Notarianni and Patrick O’Malley and Republican Laureen Cummings — certain or virtually certain to run.

Notarianni said Friday he found a running mate, but declined to identify the person’s name or gender. He will announce that, he said, before the first day for circulating nominating petitions. That’s Feb. 19.

Cummings said many Republicans want her to run for the vacant 114th state House District seat. The trouble is, the special election for the seat, which the late Sid Michaels Kavulich held, is March 12. That’s also the deadline for filing nominating petitions for commissioner.

“I know and I’ve been bombarded with phone calls to run for this office ever since Sid died,” she said. “If I didn’t get 60 calls last weekend, I didn’t get any.”

She’s thinking about a 114th bid, she said, and has to decide by next Friday, the county Republican Party deadline for submitting a resume.

She could hurt her chances for the House seat if she decides to hedge her bet and run for commissioner as well. She would have to circulate nominating petitions for commissioner while running for the state House. Voters might question her commitment to one or both jobs. Two other Republicans already have announced for the 114th, which makes a Cummings bid even less likely.

Cummings sounds like she prefers to remain a commissioner, and we’re betting that’s her play.

“I want to be commissioner,” she said. “I’m doing a good job and what would you guys (The Times-Tribune) do without me?”

She does inspire a lot of coverage, for sure.

Efforts to reach O’Malley were unsuccessful. Again and again, Democratic insiders say that O’Malley is having trouble finding a running mate, but don’t be too sure. One thing about O’Malley we know for sure, he’s one savvy politician.

Who else?

Former county tax claim bureau director Ron Koldjeski, a Democrat, said last spring he was “really interested.” A few months ago, he ruled it out. On Friday, he said, “I don’t yet. It’s a mess.”

He didn’t mean his thinking is a mess, he meant the way the county is run.

Details to come, we’re sure, assuming he runs.

Last spring, Scranton City Councilman Wayne Evans, a Republican who faces re-election this year to his council seat, said he would settle on his 2019 plans by the end of 2018, but decided he needs more time.

“I’m going to try to figure out this over the next few weeks,” Evans said. “It could be one or the other or neither. It’s still on my radar,” he said of a commissioner bid.

We’ve heard a few people salivate over the possibility of Evans teaming up with former first assistant district ,attorney Gene Talerico as a Republican ticket. Neither is a big fan of Cummings.

Talerico didn’t rule out running Friday.

“A lot of people are talking to me about it. I’m listening to people but I don’t have any commentary about it,” he said, declining to say if he’s considering the idea.

For now, we’ll bet he takes a second shot at district attorney against incumbent Mark Powell in 2021.

Scranton City Councilman Bill Gaughan, a Democrat, doesn’t have to seek re-election this year. He can run for commissioner, which he said last year he’s considering. Efforts to reach him Friday were unsuccessful. At least one person told us he has changed his mind about commissioner and may focus on mayor in 2021, but until we hear it from him, who knows?

Efforts to reach Bill Egan, the Kelly Volkswagen owner who was also considering a commissioner bid, were also unsuccessful.

The primary election is May 21.

New name in 114th

Last week, we learned Democrat Leonard Longo wants to get the party nod for the 114th state House seat. Longo said he owns and operates a Cinnabon-Carvel store in the Oakdale Mall in Johnson City, New York, and the Cinnabon store in the Viewmont Mall. He’s also operations manager for Northeast Penn Supplies in Scranton.

“I want change,” he said. “I want to help people. I want to lower the property taxes. I want to create jobs,” he said.

The Democratic 114th committee meets Thursday to pick a candidate. Bridget Kosierowski, Rabbi Daniel Swartz and Wendy Jones also have applied.

BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Times-Tribune’s politics reporter, writes Random Notes.

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