Lukasewicz Proves Running Mate Often Crucial
Former Throop Councilman Thomas Lukasewicz is thinking about another run for Lackawanna County commissioner. “There’s a good possibility,” Lukasewicz said in an interview Friday. If he does it, he doesn’t want to go it alone. He would get in much earlier, and he wants a running mate and wants to organize a group of supporters to help the campaign. He relied on himself and his family last time and that just wasn’t enough, he said. “It really takes a toll on you,” he said. In 2015, Lukasewicz ran solo and started seriously campaigning only a couple of months before the May primary election. He got crushed, finishing last in a four-man race for the Democratic nomination, but he still received more than 11,000 votes. He sees that as a positive sign that could translate into a win with a running mate’s help. For the record, Commissioner Jerry Notarianni finished first with 16,629 votes, Commissioner Patrick O’Malley, 15,603, then-Commissioner Jim Wansacz, 12,878, and Lukasewicz, 11,029. Remember, Notarianni ran solo, too, but he was better known among Democrats countywide because he served as county chairman. Naysayers might point to Lukasewicz’s similarly long political career. He served as a councilman for 23 years before resigning in late January 2017. All that time in office and still he couldn’t beat a freshly re-minted Democrat like O’Malley or even Wansacz, who had lost the trust of the Democratic rank-and-file. When he resigned from the council, Lukasewicz spoke of needing more time for himself and his family, lamented the nation’s poisoned political atmosphere and hoped the Throop council would gain “new blood” in the 2017 election. He said Friday he resigned because he accomplished what he wanted as a councilman, but had it in the back of his mind that he might run for commissioner again and wanted freedom from borough duties to do that if he chose. “It was time to move on,” he said. “I just needed some time (off) after running for commissioner and state representative.” He ran for the 112th state House seat in 2016 and lost badly in that one, too, to the eventually elected state Rep. Kevin Haggerty, who had 5,782 votes, and then-incumbent Rep. Frank Farina, 5,453. Lukasewicz had 3,211 votes. You look at those numbers in a House seat that includes Throop and most of the Midvalley and wonder if Lukasewicz can win a county race if he can’t carry his home region. He won only Throop. He was a popular councilman there, but he needs to translate that countywide if he’s going to win a nomination. That’s where he thinks a running mate can help. “I know that I can do good for the people,” Lukasewicz said. “It’s a tough decision (to run).” He discounted another fun rumor we heard this week — that Lukasewicz and Scranton City Councilman Bill Gaughan might team up to run for commissioner. Gaughan has said only that he is considering running for commissioner, but Lukasewicz said the councilman called him to ask for his support if he runs. They did not talk about running as a team. “He never said anything about actually teaming up,” Lukasewicz said. Gaughan confirmed the conversation and its contents. Last week, the rumor mill had Gaughan potentially teaming up with Scranton School Director Paige Gebhardt Cognetti, a rumor both dismissed. It seems like people keep floating rumors to either encourage possible pairings or to gauge public interest. It is intriguing, though, that Gaughan is calling around and telling people he might run and seeking their support. It did sound like Lukasewicz wouldn’t mind pairing up with Gaughan. “It might be a good team, Bill from the city and me from the Midvalley,” Lukasewicz, 59, said. “I’ve watched Bill for a lot of years and he seems to be a very smart, outstanding young man. If I was not to run, I’d probably support someone like him.” Evans fires first Republican County Commissioner Laureen Cummings probably read it right when she learned Scranton City Councilman Wayne Evans criticized her at a council meeting Monday. Without mentioning her or O’Malley by name, Evans ripped them for refusing to back reassessment for fear of voters knocking them out of office. “I guess the campaign has started,” Cummings said Monday. Evans, 64, a Republican who owns a real estate sales company, faces a council re-election race next year, but his name has hit the commissioner candidate rumor mill. He has said only that people have suggested he run, but said he really hasn’t thought about running. He will decide his plans for next year in the last quarter of this year, he has said. At the council meeting, Evans could have just said he supports a lawsuit by three city property owners who demand reassessment, but he went beyond that and criticized O’Malley and Cummings. That says a lot, but if he runs on a platform that includes favoring reassessment, Evans could find the going tough. He and others may think Cummings and O’Malley oppose reassessment for political reasons, but they have a referendum that says voters oppose it. They can argue they did what voters want and say that Evans and Notarianni, for that matter, want to defy voters’ will. Evans and Notarianni will have to make the case that they’re right in the face of voter defiance, a potentially trick proposition. That is, if reassessment emerges as a major issue, which has never really happened before. BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Times-Tribune politics reporter, writes Random Notes.