Dragons in the Algorithm
Adventures in Programming
by Michael Chermside

Election Guide, May 2010

This coming Tuesday, we have primary elections. I have been doing my research on the candidates for the various races -- all primary elections, and I am registered as a Democrat. I will summarize the results of that research here along with my endorsements and intended votes.

Race #1: Governor:

Dan Onorato

Dan is the front-runner for the governor's race: polls suggest that he has all-but-clinched the Democratic nomination. One of his strongest advantages is that polls show him doing well against the likely Republican nominee. Dan is a former county executive who appears, based on his position papers and newspaper articles to be a reasonable, competent man who I would be happy to support for governor.

Joe Hoeffel

Joe Hoeffel is an unabashed liberal (sorry: conservatives have made that a bad word, so now they call them "progressives"). His publicly taken positions include support for gay marriage and imposing a progressive income tax. What can I say... I liked most all of his positions.

Anthony Williams

I advice anyone NOT to vote for Mr. Williams. It appears to me that he came from nowhere with significant amounts of funding from what was basically a single rich source. And his major issue appears to be school vouchers: moving money out of public schools when students go to private schools.

Jack Wagner

I learned much less about Mr. Wagner in my research. He presented himself rather well in the debate, but did not (in my mind) distinguish himself.

I will be voting for *Joe Hoeffel*. I agree with his positions on basically every issue for which he had a position paper -- including some which were rather controversial.  And since it appears that Dan Onorato has the nomination sewed up I feel I can vote my heart rather than trying to vote strategically.

Race #2: Lieutenant Governor:

Jonathan Saidel

Jonathan Saidel, former Philadelphia comptroller, has political experience, money and democratic endorsements.

Scott Conklin

Scott Conklin is a state House representative from a rural area. He seems generally to be thought well of, and he secured the endorsement of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Doris Smith-Ribner

Doris Smith-Ribner is a former judge who is running for the office. Her campaign seems less "professional" than the others.

This article, from the Pittsburg City Paper seemed to lay it out best: Smith-Ribner is not a serious contender, Conklin may be up-and-coming, but Saidel is tried-and-true and will be an asset to the ticket. I'm planning to vote for *Jonathan Saidel*, but wouldn't be disappointed if Conklin won.

Race #3: US Senator: This may be the most important race on the ballot!

Arlen Specter

Look, if you don't know who Arlen Specter is, then you shouldn't be voting. He has been a Senator from PA for 30 years! Of course, he was Republican for all but the last year or so. Here's the deal: I always respected Specter as a member of the "other side" who was willing to be reasonable and to cross party lines. He says that he changed parties to have a chance of getting re-elected (I believe this) and he also says that the Republican party moved to the right rather than he moving to the left (I believe this too). And I strongly want to encourage moderates to leave the Republicans and join the Democratic "big tent". So I decided long ago to support Arlen Specter.

Joe Sestak

If you are not from my district, you may not know Joe Sestak. He's a former 3-star Navy Admiral who went into politics in the US House from my district. He has his flaws (he's more conservative on some issues than I would like, and he seems to have a bossy personal style with his subordinates), but he is very smart, very reasonable, and rather charismatic. He represents the up-and-coming future of the Democratic party.

This was the hardest decision of all. Like I said, I decided long ago to support Arlen Specter. But over time I began to have second thoughts about this decision. When both Specter AND Sestak engaged in some nasty negative campaigning it didn't help either one's case (note to candidates: if one of you had kept out of the mud, you would have earned my vote). But six years is a very long time: too long, I decided finally, to give to someone just as a prize for switching parties. No one should be "entitled" to a senate seat because they've been there for a long time. So I am planning to vote for *Joe Sestak* - I really do think he represents the future.

All other races in my district are uncontested. I'll happily vote for anyone brave enough to put their name on the ballot.

Late Breaking Correction:

I just got back from the polls, and it turns out there is another contested item on the ballot: selection of 5 men and 5 women for the "democratic committee" (what's that?). There are just 5 women running, but 8 men. I didn't do any research on this so you're on your own. (The democratic party has official endorsements.)

Posted Sun 16 May 2010 by mcherm in Politics