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Candidates’ Musical Chairs To Determine Seats

October 6, 2018
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Candidates’ Musical Chairs To Determine Seats

You can tell we live in interesting times by looking at two upcoming regional elections. In the 8th and 9th Congressional District races, you have Republican candidates moving from one place to another to bolster their runs and remaining quite competitive. Former Wall Street banker John Chrin, the Republican 8th District candidate, grew up in Lehigh County and graduated from high school in neighboring Northampton County. He sees both as part of Northeast Pennsylvania when he talks about himself, though plenty of people here probably disagree. If you look at a map and divide the state into quarters — northeast, southeast, northwest, southwest — geographically, only the northeastern most sliver of Northampton County lies in Northeast Pennsylvania. Traditionally, Lehigh and Northampton counties — geographically mostly in the southeast — are thought of as lying in sort of a limbo between the northeast and the Philadelphia-ring southeast counties — Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery. Most Northeast Pennsylvanians define their region as Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties. At least one pollster doesn’t think the same way. The Franklin & Marshall College poll, which has the longest history of polling in Pennsylvania, includes Lehigh and Northampton counties as part of the Northeast. When this column counts up votes in statewide elections, we go by F&M’s breakdown, so Lehigh and Northampton count in the Northeast. Now, Chrin has connections to the seven traditionally northeast counties. He has ancestors who migrated to Lackawanna County; he worked in Monroe County as a youth and he has other ties. He likes to remind people that his opponent, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Moosic Democrat, actually grew up in other places, including Canada, and moved here 30 years ago. Chrin has turned the race competitive, partly because of the 8th District’s makeup — it voted for President Donald Trump by 10 points in 2016 — partly because he has the money and partly because most Republicans don’t care where he’s from. No public polling exists, but Nate Silver’s 538 website recently downgraded Cartwright’s chances of winning from 90 percent last month to 86.2 percent this week. The Cook Political Report, a Washington, D.C., congressional election tracking outfit, just this week changed its rating of the race from leans Democratic to likely Democratic, meaning its analyst thinks Cartwright will probably win. Two other trackers, Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball, still have the race as leans Democratic. Chrin’s residency hasn’t eliminated him right off the bat, even though his campaign acknowledges it’s a problem and Cartwright has hammered him on it in TV commercials. It helps when you have money, and Chrin has plenty of it to let people know about his local ties and beliefs. Chrin owns a home in Short Hills, New Jersey, bought his childhood home in Lehigh County in 2009 and registered to vote there in June 2017 to establish state residency after announcing his run against Cartwright. He bought homes in Palmer Twp., Northampton County, and Barrett Twp., Monroe County, as redistricting changed congressional district boundaries earlier this year. Cartwright never moved because redistricting didn’t move his home out of the district he represents or wants to represent. Keep in mind, you can live anywhere in Pennsylvania and run for any state congressional seat. The U.S. Constitution only requires state residency. The Constitution and state law say nothing about living in a district. In the 9th District, the Republican who just moved into the district flat out stands as the overwhelming favorite to win. The Republican, former state Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser, actually is a native New Yorker and son of a New York City cop. Like Cartwright, he moved to Northeast Pennsylvania decades ago. He even established and grew a major local business, Pride Mobility Products in Exeter. Like Chrin, Meuser also moved because his home was outside the district he wants to represent. Meuser has a home in Kingston Twp. in the 8th District. Last month, he established a residence in the 9th in Dallas Borough. He faces Denny Wolff, a resident of Millville, Greenwood Twp., Columbia County, where he has lived his whole life. Wolff’s main problem is he’s a Democrat in a district that’s 48.5 percent Republican, 37.6 percent Democratic and 13.9 percent independents and third-party types. Meuser also has a lot more money. The Washington trackers have the 9th either safe or solid Republican. The way we see it, the 9th could symbolize the strength of any so-called Democratic wave in the congressional races in the Nov. 6 election. If it ends up close or Wolff wins, Cartwright will definitely win and Democrats certainly will regain control of the U.S. House. McNulty gets his portrait Former Mayor James Barrett McNulty’s portrait finally will hang in City Hall, starting next week. From the time he left the mayor’s office in January 1986 until he died 2½ years ago, McNulty balked at adding his portrait to the City Hall gallery of past mayors. That will change Wednesday at 10 a.m. when city officials unveil McNulty’s portrait. Lackawanna County Recorder of Deeds Evie Rafalko McNulty said her late husband declined immediately after leaving office to have his portrait added to the gallery because he thought he might win election as mayor again someday. After that hope faded, he didn’t want a portrait because he didn’t want the attention, she said. Yep, she really said that about the city’s greatest showman. She explained that her husband generally spent his time publicizing programs, causes, candidates and issues important to him, but became modest about promoting himself. Not that he didn’t mind taking the national stage when an out-of-town reporter called for his opinion. “Jim was never about fanfare (for himself),” she said. “If it was an issue, he’d drop from a helicopter.” The helicopter part, we do not dispute. BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Times-Tribune’s politics reporter, writes Random Notes.

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