Meadville Tribune

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March 30, 2014

Candidates quickly learning that entering race early is pivotal

With the primary election only two months away, candidates are quickly determining whether to stay in the race or support other candidates for various positions.

Former State Auditor General and Democrat Jack Wagner, who didn’t get into the gubernatorial race until the final weeks before nominating petitions were due, has dropped out. He found out what many candidates have learned. If you are going to run, get in the race early before potential supporters join other campaigns.

Politics is difficult for many people. The question becomes how early do you get involved? If you get in too early, do you run out of steam? If you wait until later, those who typically get involved are already on board with another candidate.

I can recall years ago when people said the Christmas season was too early to think about politics. The late Crawford County Treasurer Fred Wagner often disagreed, however. His theory was that was the time many people socialize and you could get a feel for what people were thinking about various offices and candidates.

- State Attorney General Kathleen Kane is being rumored by some to be considering a race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2016. Joe Sestak, former candidate, has already indicated by his appearances at political functions that he will seek that nomination.

So far, the only Republican name we have heard is that of incumbent Pat Toomey.

Of course, that election is still two years away, but many people will tell you that’s not too long in a statewide race.

- Pennsylvania Young Democrats have endorsed Tom Wolf for its choice for the Democratic nominee for governor but noted that Young Democrat chapters in the state can endorse whomever they wish.

As active as both the Democrats and Republicans are in Crawford County, neither party has been able to maintain a Young Democrat or Young Republican chapter. Allegheny College has had some students involved in the both the Democratic and Republican parties, but the interest apparently is not here for future leaders in either party. At least, it is not there enough to form a chapter and hold events.

- When the old jury wheel used in Crawford County was retired recently and prepared for display, a photograph from the 1980s was shared. It was a formal pose of the county elected officials at the time — apparently taken on the day many were sworn in to begin office.

Included were two relatives of the current jury commissioners. David Kennedy’s mother, Dorothy, was a jury commissioner and was succeeded by David. Samantha Staab’s grandmother, Lucile Kean, was a jury commissioner in the 1980s. Both Dorothy Kennedy and Lucile Kean have both since died — but their legacies of dedication to the county remains.

Politics often becomes a family tradition, as the elder family members pass on their love of politics as well as their dedication to public service to others. However, in some cases, the younger generation has seen the darker side of politics and want nothing to do with it.

- At the city level, the late George X. Simonetta, who served on Meadville City Council, was the uncle of former city councilman Patrick Donahue and the newly elected councilman Sean Donahue.

Patrick was very active in the Democratic party for years and then took a break. He now is once again active and heading up the voter registration efforts for the county Democratic party.

Jane Smith is a retired Meadville Tribune reporter who specialized in covering government and politics.

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