RODERICK RANDOM: Notarianni Runs On Cheap; Others Wait On FBI
You could look at Lackawanna County Commissioner Jerry Notarianni’s campaign finance report for 2018 and think he’s crazy.
You could also conclude he’s really confident.
Notarianni raised no money last year for his upcoming re-election campaign, his 2018 campaign finance report says.
You read that right.
Zero, nada, nothing.
He started 2018 with $16,497 and actually spent $10,096, leaving him with $6,401 at the end of the year, according to the report.
That’s $6,401 to start the year for a campaign — with a running mate whose identity he is supposed to announce next week — to knock off his nemesis and fellow Democratic commissioner, Patrick O’Malley.
The zero fundraising last year looks especially strange when you consider Notarianni raised $18,065 in 2017 and $17,380 in 2016. Notarianni won the office in November 2015 so he raised money in the two years after that but not last year, the year before his re-election campaign.
Strange, for sure, but maybe Notarianni thinks Democratic voters view O’Malley so poorly he won’t need that much money to beat him in the primary election. O’Malley started 2018 with $173,980 and ended it with $254,494.
In 2015, Notarianni raised $67,105 through May 4, just before the primary election. Maybe he thinks that kind of money will be enough this time around and he won’t have any trouble raising it. O’Malley and running mate Jim Wansacz raised more than $216,000 during that period and Wansacz still lost in the primary.
Efforts to reach O’Malley and Notarianni were unsuccessful.
From what we heard Friday, Notarianni remains on track to announce county economic development director George Kelly as his running mate next week, maybe as early as Wednesday, the day after Kelly’s retirement takes effect.
That could mean we know Notarianni’s running mate before we know O’Malley’s. More than a few people are convinced O’Malley is having trouble finding someone to run with him, but it’s still 17 days to the first day for circulating nominating petitions (Feb. 19) and more than five weeks to deadline for filing them (March 12).
One guy who knows for sure how well O’Malley stands with voters is Scranton City Councilman Bill Gaughan. As part of his preparation for possibly running for commissioner, Gaughan told us Friday he did a poll to get a feel for the landscape. The poll didn’t ask about head-to-head matchups between candidates, but did ask Democratic and Republican voters how favorably they view the prospective candidates, Gaughan said.
He declined to talk at all about the results, but you can bet the poll at least asked about the incumbent commissioners and Gaughan and probably others whose names we’ve tossed around as possible candidates.
The poll by Multiquest PRSCM LLC of Metairie, Louisiana, cost $6,950, according to Gaughan’s 2018 campaign finance report.
The report says Gaughan raised $17,955 last year, about what Notarianni raised in each of the previous two years, and he’s not even running for commissioner.
Gaughan, who ran up huge vote totals in his 2017 council re-election win, actively thought about running, but confirmed he won’t run.
He and his wife already have two young children with a third due in March. Even after they found out about the third baby, he thought about running, but decided “no way” he could leave his wife every day with three young children.
“I’m not running for commissioner,” said Gaughan, 31, an American government teacher at Commonwealth Charter Academy in Dickson City, who’s also working on getting his principal’s certificate.
Hey, he’s still pretty young and given what’s going on with the FBI investigation of Mayor Bill Courtright and City Hall, he might rather bide his time. For years, people and this column have talked about Gaughan challenging Courtright, and his regular criticism of the mayor’s administration did nothing to discourage that thinking.
If the FBI gets around to charging Courtright and succeeds in convicting him, no one who wants to replace him will have to worry about beating him in an election.
If he were interested in the top job at City Hall, Gaughan probably wouldn’t be the only one. We heard this week that City Councilman Wayne Evans has given up on trying to run for commissioner.
Evans said he still hasn’t decided on commissioner, but is “fairly confident” he won’t seek re-election. If Courtright resigns, maybe Evans could replace him.
We heard a couple of other interesting tidbits this week.
First, former First Assistant District Attorney Gene Talerico said he won’t run for commissioner on the Republican ticket. So even if Evans runs, forget that Evans-Talerico or Talerico-Evans ticket, which could have been formidable.
Second, Rose Marie Crotti, 66, a retired Lakeland Junior-Senior High School principal from Scott Twp. who works part-time for the district attorney’s office, confirmed she thought about running but decided against it.
The rumor of the week involved Crotti. As the rumor went, O’Malley tabbed her as his running mate, planned to announce that Jan. 23 when he announced his re-election bid at Fiorelli Catering, and even had signs printed with their names only to have Crotti back out at the last minute.
Untrue, Crotti said.
She denied ever talking to O’Malley about running and joked that she wanted one of the signs.
“There was never a plan to announce a running mate,” said Democratic party Chairman Chris Patrick, a strong O’Malley backer. “There were several people who were talked to and interviewed. ... She was one of them.”
Finally, the name of attorney Debra Domenick, 45, a Dunmore resident, emerged as a potential candidate. A county public defender, she also has her own law firm, according to its Facebook page. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.
BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Times-Tribune politics reporter, writes Random Notes.