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Scavo Must Count Himself Among His Enemies

March 9, 2019
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Scavo Must Count Himself Among His Enemies

Frank Scavo is right about a couple of things. For weeks, the controversial, now-former Old Forge School Board president has talked about how he can win the 114th state House District special election Tuesday because he ran well in the district for state Senate last November and better than three Republicans higher on the ticket. He’s right. Countywide, Sen. John Blake, the Archbald Democrat, walloped Scavo, 61.81 percent to 38.09 percent. Scavo did much better in the 114th, which is where he’s running against Democrat Bridget Malloy Kosierowski. Blake won the 114th towns, but with only 55.78 percent to Scavo’s 44.12 percent, a roughly 11.7-point margin. Senate candidate Lou Barletta (43.34 percent), gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner (39.09 percent) and John Chrin (41.4 percent) all received smaller percentages of the votes. Scavo attributed that to his push to eliminate school property taxes. “We outperformed them in the 114th District even though they had a lot more advertising and dollars. We had the message resonating with those people in the 114th, which prompted my (latest) run,” Scavo said. The 114th includes the city of Carbondale; Waverly, Fell, Glenburn, Greenfield, Newton, North Abington, Ransom, Carbondale and Scott townships; and Clarks Summit, Dickson City, Jermyn, Mayfield, Moosic, Old Forge, Taylor and Vandling boroughs. The winner will serve the remainder of the late state Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich’s term, which ends Nov. 30, 2020. Scavo points out that Kavulich backed the bill to eliminate school property taxes while Kosierowski prefers a scaled-down version limited to homeowners. “That’s one of the reasons that we decided, OK, let’s jump back into this rat race called politics,” he said Monday. “It’s the 44 percent margin that we received” and carrying on Kavulich’s “tradition and legislative agenda.” In the next breath, Scavo said he still believes in school property tax elimination but might be unable to do it for everyone. He said he will concentrate on senior citizens, a highly questionable possibility because the state constitution requires taxing each class of taxpayers uniformly. He’s also relying on his opposition to loosening the rules on late-term abortions, which Democrats in many places suddenly seem ready to do and which will never happen as long as Republicans stay in control of the Pennsylvania House and Senate. Kosierowski likes the status quo on the state’s abortion laws. These things give Scavo at least a puncher’s chance, but almost no one believes he can beat Kosierowski. She’s a bit green on issues, but she has studied hard and she’s better than the day Democrats nominated her in January. She has spent a ton of money on mailing campaign literature to voters’ homes and also has avoided making any huge mistakes. Scavo made his mistakes a long time ago. His “stupid” and “in poor taste” anti-Muslim posts — his descriptions, not ours — emerged more prominently in the last couple of weeks, but had been around for years. It’s amazing no one brought them up earlier. Scavo apologized and met with Marwan Wafa, chancellor of Penn State Scranton and a Muslim. They spent two hours together Tuesday, talking about Scavo’s posts, economic development and their ownership of and ability to repair Jaguar automobiles. But the controversy undoubtedly hurt Scavo’s standing among many Democrats, who outnumber Republicans in the district by more than 10,000. He’s also a three-time loser in previous bids for the state Senate. “Bridget wins,” said state Rep. Mike Carroll, D-118, Avoca, one of the local legislators who blasted Scavo this week as unfit for any office. State Republicans clearly don’t think they can win because they haven’t put any serious money into Scavo’s campaign, Carroll said. He’s almost certainly right, which means Scavo can focus on seeking re-election to another term on the school board. The board voted Thursday, 5-3, to remove him as president. Considering the divide on that board, that school board race should be a real contest. Cummings’ odd vote Lackawanna County Commissioner Laureen Cummings, a Republican and chairwoman of her party’s 114th House District committee, is certainly no fan of the Democratic Party. Nonetheless, Cummings voted Wednesday to reappoint Chris Patrick to the county housing authority board. Yep, that Chris Patrick, the chairman of the county Democratic Party. Backers of Commissioner Jerry Notarianni delighted when they saw the appointment on the commissioners’ agenda. They knew Notarianni wouldn’t vote for Patrick. They do not like each other. That left Commissioner Patrick O’Malley, a Democrat and close Patrick ally, to make the motion to reappoint Patrick with Cummings voting yes. Cummings said she voted for Patrick because no one else applied. Patrick thanked O’Malley and Cummings for their support and had a few choice words for Notarianni. “I guess Jerry Notarianni forgets the number of years of support I gave to his group, the Parker House gang,” Patrick said, referring to the political group that used to hang around the Parker House, a bar Notarianni once owned. “It’s very upsetting that ... former Democratic Chairman Jerry Notarianni can’t find a vote for the Lackawanna County Democratic chairman ... I understand he was dysfunctional as city chairman, he was dysfunctional as county chairman and he’s dysfunctional as a commissioner so I understand why he didn’t vote for me.” Notarianni disputed Cummings’ claim that few people want to serve and fired back at Patrick. “The last dinner I had as county chairman we had over 1,000 people, which is much better than his record,” Notarianni said. Four years ago, he said, Patrick could have supported any one of four Democrats for commissioner. Instead, he chose to recruit O’Malley, the Republican minority commissioner before he switched back to the Democrats. “I’m a very functional county commissioner,” Notarianni said. “I’m not the one who causes the dysfunction in this place. I vote for all the things that are necessary and right.” BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Times-Tribune politics reporter, writes Random Notes.