RODERICK RANDOM: New Face Possible In GOP Commissioner Race

February 23, 2019
1 of 2
RODERICK RANDOM: New Face Possible In GOP Commissioner Race

Jessica Kalinoski might come down from the mountain to climb toward the sixth floor.

Kalinoski, 42, of Throop, who manages Montage Mountain Resorts — the ski resort and water park — told several people we know this week she plans to run for the Republican nomination for Lackawanna County commissioner.

The Lackawanna County Government Center’s sixth floor is home to the commissioners’ offices.

Efforts to reach Kalinoski were unsuccessful.

Kalinoski, who converted to the Republicans in March 2017, attended the campaign kickoff party that Democratic Commissioner Jerry Notarianniand his running mate, George Kelly, hosted Wednesday at La Buona Vita in Dunmore. She told a few people there about her plans, which is how it got back to us.

For weeks, the Democratic commissioner candidates have hogged the local political oxygen, but the Republican race shapes up as quite something, especially if Kalinoski and Scott Twp. Supervisor Michael Giannetta enter an appearance.

Add them to incumbent Commissioner Laureen Cummings and Chris Chermak, and Giovanni Piccolino, and that’s a real contest.

We heard this week about someone else entering the Democratic commissioner race but couldn’t come up with a name. We’ll know soon anyway. The deadline for filing nominating petitions is March 12.

The actual primary election is May 21, but Commissioner Patrick O’Malley and his running mate, Debi Domenick, began flexing their financial advantage this week with a television commercial buy.

O’Malley’s campaign committee had $254,493 at the end of 2018 .

They paid $1,600 to air a 60-second commercial during WNEP’s 6 p.m. newscast on Thursday, according to the station’s Federal Communications Commission disclosure file.

The Committee to Elect O’Malley & Domenick Commissioners aired the commercial just once.

As of Friday afternoon, the FCC files didn’t show any further commercial buys.

The day before the commercial aired, Notarianni and Kelly drew slightly fewer than 250 people to their campaign kickoff rally in Dunmore while Cummings drew more than 100 to hers at the Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel.

Considering the snow and sleet that evening, Notarianni and Cummings said they were pleased with the turnout.

Both feared much smaller crowds.

“I was so happy,” Cummings said. “A lot of people stayed for only half an hour (because of the weather), but they came.”

O’Malley had at least 375 for his introduction of Domenick as his running mate Feb. 13 at Fiorelli Catering in Blakely.

These numbers mean little. If people didn’t turn out that would signal real danger to winning the election, but in the long run the good crowds at kickoff rallies mean about as much as campaign yard signs.

Last year, for example, we saw lots of yard signs for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Lou Barletta and Republican congressional candidate John Chrin, and fewer for their opponents, Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Matt Cartwright. We all know how that turned out.

Signs aren’t votes.


■ Scranton City Council President Pat Rogan, a Democrat, said Friday he’s seriously contemplating a run for county controller.

“It’s a possibility,” Rogan said. “I do have petitions.”

Incumbent controller Gary DiBileo, also a Democrat, plans to kick off his re-election campaign Friday.

Rogan would be the third straight controller from the city if he wins. The first was Ken McDowell.

Rogan sees a county government full of dysfunction and thinks DiBileo doesn’t do enough about it.

■ City Councilman Wayne Evans, a rumored commissioner candidate, will likely announce his plans this week. He has already said he won’t seek re-election to the council.

■ Less than two months into 2019 and it looks like Cartwright, the Democratic congressman from Moosic, will have a Republican bull’s eye on him again next year.

The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has named him one of its 55 initial “offensive targets” in 2020. That means he’s an incumbent Democrat they will look to attack rather than simply defending their own incumbents.

Cartwright defeated Chrin last year by 9.3 percentage points to win the newly formed 8th Congressional District seat. The victory earned Cartwright a spot as one of the House Democrats’ top message-makers. President Donald Trump won the district by 10 percentage points in 2016. With Trump facing re-election next year, Republicans think he might help flip seats they lost in the midterm election last year.

“Freedom or socialism — that’s the choice in 2020,” NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer said in a statement.

The Republicans announced their targets the day after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced its list of “frontline members,” who include Cartwright. House Democrats want to protect the new majority they won last year.

“Our majority hinges on these members from tough seats winning re-election in 2020, and with today’s announcement we’re sending a clear message that the DCCC will stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the fight ahead,” a DCCC statement said.

As of today, it’s 87 days to primary election day.

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