CLEAR-ly wrong: Why I can't hold my nose and vote for Morganelli

As a progressive and a fan of smart community-friendly policing I can not in good faith vote for Democrat John Morganelli for Pennsylvania Attorney General because Morganelli's rabidly anti-illegal immigration stances are both unconstitutional and bad law enforcement policy. If there is two things the Attorney General needs to have a firm grasp on its the Constitution and sound law enforcement policy.

First off, its the specific job of the Federal government as laid out in the US Constitution to set the rules and enforce citizenship, immigration and naturalization law. It falls under the clause giving the US Federal government exclusive and sole agency to make treaties with foreign nations. The Constitution is rather unambiguous on this point. Simply put, immigration law is not criminal law.

Morganelli is a rabidly emphatic supporter of the CLEAR Act (H.R.2671) mandating that local law enforcement agencies take over immigration enforcement, including detaining undocumenteds here in the US. He unequivocally wants local police forces in PA to begin detaining, jailing and housing suspected illegal aliens on their own, based solely on their suspected immigration status. This would be a disaster for law enforcement because rather than solving crimes like murders, robberies, etc. local police resources, often already over-stretched, will be diverted to staging local raids on undocumented dishwashers and landscapers. Police chiefs and local officials with political ambitions will have an incentive to make stagey and counterproductive "round-ups" before just local election that would actually hurt the long term capacity of local law enforcement to solve criminal cases.

If you or anyone in your family had unresolved immigration status and you knew that local police were going to arrest you and detain you or your loved one for that immigration status, why would you ever step forward and testify even if you were a witness to a murder? Law enforcement already wrestles with enough of a problem overcoming community distrust in many communities. Can you imagine how much Morganelli's approach would tie the local police's hands in reaching out to immigrant communities to solve actual crimes?

I personally have little doubt that Morganelli's supposedly "tough on crime" posturing on immigration would in fact lead to a rise in
murders and violent crime in cities with significant immigrant populations like Philadelphia if implemented. Violent criminals would have an incentive to specifically target immigrant communities, knowing there would be almost no chance of immigrants stepping forward to testify against them.

Immigration is a problem that has to be solved at a federal level,
most effectively through workplace enforcement.

Below is a sample of local police chiefs stating their opposition to
the policies Morganelli supports.

Cobb County (GA) Police Department, Officer Brent Daniels:
"[W]e’re trying to inject our objectives into the community and trying to establish that trust that ‘I’m a police officer, and I care more about your well-being than immigration status. We’ve gotten to a point where [Latino community members] are beginning to recognize officers. They say ‘Hello,’ and we've gone from crimes being unreported to officers assigned to that area being sought out."
("Cobb police unit combats Hispanic gang lure," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/12/02)

Des Moines (IA) Police Department, Chief William McCarthy:
"When we don't acknowledge the reality of who is here, we create our own problems, and we are a better society than that, frankly. They (illegal immigrants) are family-oriented people and underpin our churches and society in many ways. Plus they are human beings. They are here. And we ought to deal with them as human beings."
(Des Moines Register editorial, "Cops shouldn’t be INS agents," 10/13/03)

High Point (NC) Police Department, Chief Jim Fealy:
"The philosophy of the High Point Police Department as long as I’m here is that I have no concern with anyone’s immigration status. If you’re the victim of a crime, you will be treated as a victim and not as a criminal yourself."
("High Point chief: Hispanics shouldn’t fear police," Associated Press, 8/18/03)

Lenexa (KS) Police Department, Chief Ellen T. Hanson:
"We are, like many jurisdictions across the country, short on resources and manpower and struggling to meet our citizen’s service demands. This mandate will magnify that problem and force us to make cuts in other areas to comply with the CLEAR Act. . . . The most troubling aspect of this act is that it would cause members of certain groups to not report crimes or come forward with information about crimes for fear of being deported."
(letter to Representative Dennis Moore (D-3rd/KS), 8/26/03)

Overland Park (KS) Police Department, Chief John Douglass:
"The CLEAR Act would be a detriment to all who live, work, and visit Overland Park. We want all to know that the police are available to protect them no matter whom they are or where they come from."
(letter to Representative Dennis Moore (D-3rd/KS), 10/29/03)

North Charleston (SC) Police Department, Chief Jon Zumalt:
"Our problem is victims of robberies or other crimes not communicating with us. That’s our priority. As far as enforcement of immigration laws, that’s not something we do as a municipal law enforcement agency anyway."
("Arrests sow fear in Hispanic community," Charleston (SC) Post & Courier, 5/1/03)

Pawtucket (RI) Police Department, Chief George Kelley III:
"If a person is in this country illegally, they may think twice before coming forward if they suspect their legal residence was found out during the trial. That would be a concern for us. You look to get the trust of the community."
("Immigrant testifies, faces deportation. Danny Sigui helped prosecutors win a conviction in a criminal case. Two days later, he was arrested by immigration officials," Providence Journal, 7/31/03)

Putnam County (TN) Police Department, Sheriff Jerry Abston:
"I wouldn’t have the resources to [enforce immigration laws]. . . . Money’s tight in the state in the counties, too. It’s [the DHS’] job to take care of the borders, and I just think they need to do it."
("Midstate Authorities Balk at Possibly Enforcing Immigration Laws," The Tennessean, 4/15/02

For further discussion on why the CLEAR Act is just plain bad public safety policy, see the NJ ACLU.

Morganelli is bad news. What do we do?

I totally agree with Sean. Corbett is certainly not my ideal. But I can't vote for Morganelli.

And a lot of usual supporters of Democrats feel the same way. SEIU State Council did not endorse Morganelli (or Corbett).

So what do we do?

I'm not wild about the idea of voting for Corbett. I don't know for certain that his avid prosecution of Democrats and much slower pursuit of Republicans in the General Assembly is politically motivated. Let's just say that an AG determined to be even handed would have done things a little differently.

But I would vote for Corbett to stop Morganelli. Is that necessary? Or should I vote for Marakay Rogers, erstwhile Green running on the Libertarian ticket despite my distate for third party politics in America.
and his slow puru

I'm debating as well

Despite some signs of politicization in his priorities in terms of Bonusgate, the stuff alleged in Bonusgate is absolutely wrong, no matter who does it and ultimately has caused good suburban Dems to suffer under the cloud of doubt Veon and Co. are responsible for putting over the wider Democratic Party. Corbett couldn't make political hay if our house (no pun intended) was not already in disorder.

I've also heard the argument that as awful as Morganelli is that Corbett must be stopped because he will be running for Governor down the line. By contrast I actually think that a vigorous and hopefully quite expensive primary fight between Corbett and Patrick Meehan is the best thing the Democratic nominee for Gov could hope for.

Marakay Rogers, the Green turned Libertarian, I know is flatly opposed to the death penalty (which generally I think is good) and not much else.

I think the AG's office is actually quite an important one outside of the realm of politics and whatever else, its important that the AG be a qualified and effective criminal prosecutor.

Currently I am, to be honest, leaning toward the qualified prosecutor who is likely a bit of a GOP hack but at least understands how the Constitution works at a basic level and is going to support, not undermine local law enforcement with fits of flashy xenophobia.

I would love to hear someone make a convincing argument for Rogers.
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

Party Affiliation Relevant To Elective Office

I believe one's partisan affiliation is relevant to one's performance in elective office. One's party affiliation determines to a significant degree what allies one has, what groups of people one appeals to, who one will recruit for staff positions, who one will associate with frequently, and what pressures one will be under.

Three years ago, many people engaged in passsionate debate as to whether or not Robert Casey would be a better U.S. Senator than Rick Santorum. I cannot name a single Democrat who believes today that there is little or no difference between Casey as U.S. Senator and Santorum as U.S. Senator. Casey is today regarded as one of the more liberal Democrats on economic issues, and one of the more conservative Democrats on social issues, but there is no question that he is a far better Senator for those who believe in the goals of the Democratic Party than was Senator Rick Santorum.

John Morganelli is also a conservative Democrat on some issues. But no one here cited any issue where Tom Corbett had taken a more liberal position than Morganelli. Any belief that Tom Corbett will be an attorney general more in accordance with the goals of the Democratic Party than John Morganelli is without factual foundation.

In 2006, the Democrats nominated Bob Casey to break a forty losing streak in even-yeared U.S. Senate contests. It worked.

In 2008, the Democrats nominated John Morganelli to break a 28 year losing streak in Attorney General contests. Because the ATtorney General's office only became an elective one in 1980, no Democrat has ever won that position.

No one ran in the primary against Morganelli, because of the very real difficulty of winning in November against Corbett. Morganelli has a chance to get elected because of the huge turnout likely among Democrats for Obama, and it would be good if he was elected.

The election of John Morganelli as Attorney General would get swing voters thinking that Democrats can hold that position in a credible manner. Once we have established that a Democrat can get elected to this position, more than just Morganelli will be interested in holding it and be able to win election for it. The Attorney is term-limited to two terms under the Pennsylvania Constitution, and the effect of a Morganelli tenure will similar to the effect of the tenures of prior Democrats in the Presidency, the Governorship, and other offices: people will believe the office is open to Democrats, and will act to produce future Democratic attorney generals.

The office of Attorney General can be active in preventing economic frauds against consumers, in safeguarding the rights of shareholders against corporate CEOs, and in helping create a statewide anti-trust law as so many other states have. A Democratic Attorney General will be more likely to fight efforts to illegally stop people from joining unions, to protect the rights of gays, and expand the right to vote.

After more than forty years of participation in Pennsylvania politics, I cannot name a Democrat who did not improve on the performance of his Republican who had served previously. Nor can I name a Republican who was more liberal, or more progressive, or more dedicated to the public interests than the Democrat who held the same office previously.

Yes, there have been Democrats in Mississippi more reactionary than Republicans in Pennsylvania. But that is comparing apples with oranges. Decade after decade, generation after generation, within the same constituency, Pennsylvania Democrats are clearly the party of liberals, progressives, labor, environmentalists, and believers that there is a public interest outside the corporate bottom line or the ravings of radio talk show hosts and right-wing extremists.

I voted for Bob Casey . . .

and John Morganelli is no Bob Casey.

Seriously Marganelli's rabidly anti-immigrant stances are not a side issue for him. They are front and center on his agenda. On his campaign webpage #2 on his list of crime proposals is titled "Protect Pennsylvania From Illegal Criminal Aliens" where he declares his emphatic support of the CLEAR act.

Corbett does not endorse the CLEAR act and makes no mention the state government taking on immigration enforcement at all on his campaign web page.

Morganelli's anti-immigrant positions are clucked about approvingly by extreme anti-immigrant groups like ALIPAC and V-DARE. He started a rabidly anti-immigrant PAC called Us Securing America PAC which does get an interesting mention on the Corbett web page for alleged campaign finance violations. Regardless of what you make of the alleged campaign finance violations related to USAPAC, Morganelli is clearly its founder and his wife is its Treasurer.

I quote:

In 2004, John Morganelli created the Us Securing America PAC with the goal of supporting candidates who “are concerned about the growing number of illegal immigrants in the country.” The Allentown Morning Call confirmed that the USA/PAC website was John Morganelli’s saying, “On his website [], Morganelli tells visitors about himself, solicits donations and offers a free newsletter. He also provides a list of ‘troubling facts’ concerning illegal immigrants.” (The Morning Call, December 3, 2004)
Throughout 2005, 2006, 2007 and the beginning of 2008, John Morganelli continued to prominently list himself, his biography and information about his book ‘The D-Day Bank Massacre: The True Story Behind the Martin Appel Case’ on USA PAC’s website until earlier this year when he began planning his deceptive, secretive and negative campaign tactics. As late as April 18, 2008, the website prominently displayed Morganelli’s name including links in the table of contents to “Buy John’s Book” and “About DA John Morganelli” and to make checks payable to “USA/PAC and mail as follows: USA/PAC c/o DA John Morganelli PO Box 1426 70 East Broad Street Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 18016-1426 Thank you for your support! District Attorney John M. Morganelli.” (According to Google’s cache of the website as it was retrieved on April 18, 2008)
Then, sometime after April 18, 2008, Morganelli suspiciously removed his biography, his name from the contribution and home pages as well as information about purchasing his book. Currently, USA PAC’s website does not have Morganelli listed anywhere on the site. (
Despite Morganelli’s attempt to deceive the public and misrepresent his relationship with USA/PAC, Morganelli’s wife, Diana P. Morganelli, is listed as the Treasurer of USA/PAC on the documents filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation registered state political committee list as well as the couple’s home address which is listed as the address for the USA/PAC. (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Commissions, Elections & Legislation Registered Committee List)

If you want to check out USAPAC's current website, I suggest you take a look. I particularly liked its lists of approved links which says this about the reactionary and notoriously unrealiabe "news" source World Net Daily.

World Net Daily

Joseph Farah's World Net Daily offers a voice of common sense to the important issues of the day. He is truly a great American.

Here's a lovely story plucked at random from World Net's front page.

Marxist 'mentor' sold drugs with Obama
Alleged Communist Party member published book boasting of sex with minors

Rep. Cohen, do you really think this man is going to turn out more "moderate" on this issue when he is elected to office? Because honestly I think that is holding a bizarrely partisan "hope beyond hope". The guy is a xenophobic demagogue as far as I can tell and is quite explicit on the policies he will support in office. Why expect him change when elected?
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

PA Attorney General Has Minimal IF Any Role In Immigration

The PA Attorney General has a minimal at best role in immigration. The site referred to makes no mention of Morganelli's campaign for attorney general that I can find. I have no knowledge of any Morganelli ad focusing on the immigration issue, any Corbett ad forcusing on the immigration issue, or any ad by any attorney general candidate ever focusing on immigration. I have no knowledge of any case on immigration before the Attorney General's office at this time.

We can take almost any Democratic candidate and find some issue of disagreement and use that finding to elect a Republican with whom one will have many times more areas of diagreement. I think the time for electing Republicans to punish imperfect Democrats is over; it only leads to a political spectrum tilted ever more heavily to the right. Whatever the intentions of individual voters, Republican victories send a clear message of support for conservative goals to the electorate and to political communities around the nation and around Pennsylvania.

We have plenty of experience with Pennsylvania Republicans and they simply are not more progressive than Pennsylvania Democrats. Tom Corbett, for instance, is supporting the rabidly anti-immigrant candidate Lou Barletta for Congress against Paul Kanjorski. Morganelli supports Kanjorski.

If John Morganelli is elected attorney general, I fully expect that Mr, Luigi and other skeptics will be supporting him for re-election--perhaps enthusiastically, perhaps not--in 2012.

Mad or just Madening

Mark, I know for a fact that you not so completely lacking in reading comprehension skills as your post indicates so I can only assume that the whole completely missing the point thing is an intentional act of partisan obfuscation.

The PA Attorney General has a minimal at best role in immigration.

Yes of course that is as it is now and how Constitutionally as it should be but that is not how John Morganelli would like it to be. From his campaign website (#2 issue under "crime & security"):

2. Protect Pennsylvania From Illegal Criminal Aliens

Today there are approximately 20 milion illegal aliens in the US many of whom are engaging in additional criminal activity aside from their illegal entry into the US. The 2000 census estimated that there are between 100,000-200,000 illegal aliens in Pennsylvania up from about 27,000 in 1992. That number is now even higher. There are presently about 800,000 criminal illegal aliens at large in the US who have been ordered deported. Many have criminal records in their country of origin. Illegal aliens come into contact with law enforcement on a daily basis committing violent crime, like rape and murder, drug crime and crimes such as Identity Theft, Tampering With Records, and Passing False Documents. The FBI and the Director of Homeland Security recently warned that the continued influx of thousands of unidentifiable illegal aliens each year is a national security problem .

The following needs to be done:

* Lobby for passage of the CLEAR ACT by the US Congress which will expressly empower state and local police to arrest and detain illegal aliens soley on their illegal immigration status.
* Seek to enter into Memorandums of Understanding now with the Department of Justice to expressly empower state and local law enforcement in Pennsylvania the authority to detain illegal aliens solely on immigration violations.
* Investigate and prosecute under state law employers who repeatedly employ illegal aliens in order to hold them accountable and subject to both criminal and civil sanctions.
* Advocate legislation declaring foreign ID cards used soley by illegal aliens as unacceptable and an unrecognized form of ID.

So, Rep Cohen, are you saying that John Morganelli's intentions for what he would like to do as of Attorney General do in terms immigration are somehow radically different from what he advocates on his campaign website? Because that would be a very unusual campaign tactic, downright bizarre I would say.

But since you in effect put down the challenge I decided to let google do some work.

The fact is just googling Morganelli's name and "US Securing America PAC" you come up with numerous posts and press releases apparently sent from his USAPAC fairly obviously by the man himself to the discussion forums of some of these various fairly extreme anti-immigrant groups like VDARE and ALIPAC. Stuff like this press release. VDARE by the way got special mention by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an example of far-right hate groups repackaging itself around immigration to move to the mainstream, a designation VDARE took special glee in bragging about as an "endorsement".

BTW - googling Morganelli and USAPAC also turns up this recent piece by journalist John L. Micek of the Allentown Morning Call basically confirming Morganelli's questionably documented use of USAPAC funds for AG election activity.

In December 2004, This Very Newspaper confirmed Morganelli's involvement in the PAC, noting that on its official site, "Morganelli tells visitors about himself, solicits donations and offers a free newsletter."

At the time, Morganelli said he hoped to use the PAC to support candidates who are concerned about what he said was the growing number of illegal immigrants in the country.

According to Department of State records, Morganelli is listed as the organization's treasurer.

Today, Corbett's campaign claimed that, until April of this year, Morganelli included his name and biography on the PAC's official site.

But when we inspected it this afternoon, there was no biographical information on the site, nor any indication of who or what might be behind it. Donations are solicited through a secure, online server, which offered no clues to the group's identity or its backers.

I just want to note here that I happened to rather easily find the bio page in question cached on the site for the web template company Morganelli apparently uses here

Micek continues:

In a brief interview, Morganelli said he'd filed a campaign finance report for the PAC just last week -- and a trip to the Department of State confirmed that such was the case.

However, our field trip also revealed that Morganelli's PAC made a pair of donations ($6,400 and $25,000) to both Morganelli's campaign committee, and a separate committee he also maintains on the Sept. 15 closing date for latest round of campaign finance reports. Both were included in Morganelli's most recent filing.

According to records, the robo-calls mentioned by Corbett's campaign appear to have been made by an outfit called "PMI," which was paid $6,391,78 by the PAC on Sept. 8.

When we asked him about the calls, Morganelli said he reported the expenditures even though they paid for "issue-advocacy" calls and were not subject to the disclosure rules that Corbett set up in a stipulated agreement with a group that paid for calls on behalf of Republican state Supreme Court candidate Maureen Lally-Green last year

To me that sounds an awful lot like Morganelli is using this PAC which solicits money from fairly extreme anti-immigrant groups to funnel money to his AG campaign in ways that at the very least skirt the edges of PA campaign finance law.

And to leave the google detective work for a second and go back to the other issues from his campaign website, Morganelli's other big "crime" stands are not exactly models of progressive thinking about crime and prison reform anyway. His #1 solution to crime is to end parole entirely for violent felonies.

We have seen that incarcerating violent criminals for longer periods of time works. Violent crime in America is down in direct correlation with increasing prison population. Violent offenders who bring physical harm to others should get long, stiff prison sentences their first time around. One miserable failure is our parole system. The facts are that criminals out on parole represent a significant portion of repeat offenders. The time has come for parole to be abolished in Pennsylvania for any person convicted of a violent felony such as murder, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping and armed robbery. These people should be given long flat sentences which should be served in their entirety.

#2 was already discussed.

#3 is to "outlaw gangs", which his explanation of seems rather vague on how he intends to rectify with the Constitutional right of free association.

Pennsylvania law should make it a crime just to be a member of a criminal gang. It must make it clear that gang membership alone will result in stiff jail sentences. This will allow law enforcement to aggressively go after the young thugs who terrorize our communities, and breakup and put out of business a culture of gang worship and membership. We should not wait for the next homicide, robbery or drug deal. It is time to attack the nests of the gangs. With leadership from the attorney general, we can carefully craft a statute that will pass constitutional muster to make gang membership itself illegal.

I'm sorry but as I understand it the RICO statutes go to great lengths to balance Constitutional rights of free association with criminal law enforcement imperatives. Morganelli's campaign rhetoric really doesn't sound like someone who has considered carefully the trickiness of intelligently striking that balance. Maybe its just me.
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

Great post Sean

and really excellent research on this issue.

Both Morganelli and Corbett are problematic, but Morganelli has gone way over the deep end on his anti-immigrant stand to duck rule of law and stretch any reasonable interpretation of job responsibility. Whatever stooge Corbett is for Barletta is no reason to vote for Morganelli and his irrational obsession with personally conducting immigration raids.

My concern is that it's not just these two individuals but it's the overall tenor of anti-immigrant rhetoric and action that have infected/infested a large portion of Pennsylvania politics. This is not solely a partisan issue which is why I can't vote for Morganelli and why I am hoping that a strong lobbying effort can be done for Corbett and PA overall on reaching a sensible and rational stance on immigration.

Thanks Sean

That sinks it. Morganelli is an embarassment to the Democratic Party and needs to be stopped.

I'm voting for Corbett and I'm going to urge everyone I know to do so as well.

Party is relevant to voting and D is my default vote. But the default can and should be overcome when there is good reason. There certainly is in this case.

Mark Cohen's notion that there is some kind of mental barrior Pennsylvanians have against voting for Democrats as Attorney General is implausible. How many people going to the polls in the last election for Attorney General actually knew that we had never elected a Democratic Attorney General?

Law and Order Long Key To Republican Successes

The politicized call for law and order has long been key to Republican successes in Pennsylvania and around the nation. Pennsylvania's longest serving U.S. Senator ever, Arlen Specter, served as an assistant district attorney, district attorney, and national advocate against the liberalization of criminal rights under the Warren Court.

The last Republican governor without prosecutorial experience was William Scranton, elected to a single term in 1962. Since then, Republican Governors Ray Shafer (1966), Dick Thornburgh (1978 and 1982) and Tom Ridge (1994 and 1998) have all campaigned on law and order themes given credibility by their prosecutorial experience. Ridge won in 1994 after he defeated another prosecutor, Attorney General Ernie Preate, in the Republican primary.

Until Ed Rendell,a former assistant district attorney under Specter and a special prosecutor under Governor Milton Shapp who served eight years as Philadelphia's district attorney, was elected in 2002, no Democratic governor since the Civil War had prosecutorial experience.

There has never been a Democratic district attorney of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, or Montogomery counties in the lifetimes of any poster on this site.

The Republican Party's greatest success in Philadelphia since losing the mayoralty in 1951 has been in winning the district attorney's office--four times winning that office, and once sweeping the entire citywide slate under Arlen Specter's coattails in 1969.

It is a mistake to view elections as unique events. They are events with contexts, contexts that have been determined over many decades. The only way to break out of the Republican dominated context of what a prosecutor should be is to start electing Democrats to prosecutorial positions in those many places around Pennsylvania and around the United States where Democrats have been shut out. The guy who defeated Specter for D.A. in 1973, Emmett Fitzpatrick, only served one term, but he opened the door for other Democratic successors.

Democrats and Republicans face different internal pressures and different external pressures because of the different natures of their constituencies.

Elected Governor after pledging not to raise the statewide mininumum wage, Democrat Ed Rendell helped us push through the largest statewide minimimum wage increase in Pennsylvania history.

Elected Governor on a platform emphasizing his support of civil rights, Republican Dick Thornburgh pushed through massive welfare cuts and serious education cuts in real dollars.

Party affiliation trumps rhetoric and positions, especially positions, like Morganelli's, that depend on approval from the federal government and the legislature and the governor in order to implemented. I doubt that President Barack Obama and a strong Democratic U.S. House and a strong Democratic Senate are going to rubber-stamp any Pennsylvania attorney general of either party.

Corbett has taken the rare step of inviting Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, a leading immigrant basher who has gained national television coverage for his positions, to a press conference announcing the drug prosecutions of a ring of illegal aliens in the Hazleton area. In so doing, and in publicly praising Corbett for his help in the investigation, he helped give that prosecution a political aura that in otherwise would not have had, and an aid to Barletta's Congressional campaign that it would not otherwise have been.

Corbett's anti-choice, so I'm going NOTA

I will lay out how appalled I am at Morganelli's occupation of the Democratic slot on the ticket, and my embarrassment at Rep. Cohen's "But he's a DEMOCRAT" defense later. For now, after discussing this matter with my spouse, she checked and found out NARAL among others lists Corbett as anti-choice. My spouse rarely breaks for Republicans, but in the case where one seems a better possibility than the Dem, that issue's a deal breaker. I have never voted for a non Democrat in my life aside from 1 Green candidate for city council in Rochester, NY (and that was admittedly in a moment of infatuation for a Green canvasser). This time, I seriously considered it; but cannot. I don't throw my vote away at people who don't do much to help their party's legitimacy either (except for that one libido-based time in Rochester), so Rogers isn't getting my vote. Instead, it's a blank ballot line and a sternly worded letter to the state's Democrat committee suggesting they've pushed the "Casey strategy" just too far this time. (Anyone want to help me out on how to draft such a letter?)

Sean, thanks. I will not be

Sean, thanks. I will not be voting for Tom Corbett, but I sure will not be voting for Morganelli either.

Whatever works

I was hoping someone who just loooooooovvvvved Marakay Rogers would chime in to balance this out but regardless I can't vote for Morganelli.

I too find the "but he's a Democrat" argument stretched beyond credibility or common sense here. I would just point out that Fred Phelps, the world's ugliest homophobe and head of the Westboro Baptist Church, has run for elected office in Kansas five times, always as a Democrat, receiving an astonishing 31% of the vote in the Democratic Primary for US Senate in 1992. There are instances when party identification is not enough to make up for hateful, wrong-headed views and for me Morganelli's stance on the CLEAR act also crosses that line.
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

Against Not Voting for Either

Either Morganelli or Corbett is going to be AG in PA in January and for years afterwards.

The person in charge of prosecuting law in the state is at stake in what is apparently a close election.

When smart progressive people throw up their hands in this kind of Bad vs. Bad election, we often end up, as a community, with the worst possible person in an important job.

My own two cents is that we owe it to our community to decide who will be better of the two and to vote for that person.

I still don't know who I think would do the most damage. I'm going to be thinking about it a lot today -- as I canvass for Obama -- and holding my nose and voting for one of them tomorrow.

In the case of Bad vs. Bad

If you want force it to be an "either or" situation. Look to their history.

We know Corbett's past performance - about "average" conservative politics, endorsed by the NRA (which is definitely bad IMO) and various business chambers, a couple of unions but generally outside of Bonsugate fingerpointing has basically acted professionally within the range of standard prosecutorial practice. Not my favorite but he's not an unknown entity or particularly "extreme"- the Devil We Know.

Morganelli raises money for his PAC on extremist sites and possibly illegally uses it for campaign activity, praises the editor of World Net Daily as a "great American", wrote a book about his frustration at Bank of America for (*gasp*) allowing people with unresolved immigration status access to bank accounts and has made changing dramatically the job of what local law enforcement does in the state of Pennsylvania a centerpiece of his campaign. He sees the job of the AG to lead local law enforcement into the job of criminalizing immigration status and diverting local law enforcement resources from real crimes to arresting and jailing people based solely on immigration status. The Devil We Don't Know - but who emphatically supports the worst, more counterproductive idea to come down the pike in local law enforcement in 20 or 30 years.

Even it debatably it really is an "ethier or", for me its still a pretty simple choice.

MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

Thanks for the Sesame St.

Thanks for the Sesame St. civics PSA, Sam, but there isn't a "worst possible" in a case of "Bad vs. Bad". Progressives "opting out" of voting for any candidate in this particular ballot line would, I'm guessing would give Corbett an edge. Since the Democratic party put forth a candidate that should be pretty repellent to progressive values, what sort of "leadership" are progressives exhibiting if they simply "suck it up" and implicitly endorse in this forum a candidate cravenly pandering to, as Helen has pointed out, an ugly undercurrent exploited within the PA electorate? Furthermore, if we take Rep. Cohen's whip logic "Party trumps position/person" seriously, we see a tacit endorsement of Morganelli within the party itself. If progressives, and immigrant/ethnic minority rights supportive people throw Morganelli's line on the ticket under a bus, while voting D down the rest of the line, it may give the party pause before it considers another "Red Dem" for statewide office.

Holding one's nose is a melodramatic expression of impotence. I prefer a message through a statistical skew (x% of D line voters just didn't vote for anyone for AG, handing over the slot to the incumbent), which says I'm a DEMOCRAT but I won't support "that one". Morganelli's defender here has pretty much said "it doesn't matter what he says, as long as 'one of us' gets in." Morganelli isn't one of us. He's a mistake, and the party should take its knocks on this one, and for "years to come" if this means another cycle of Bonusgate style investigations.

Really, Sam, we know this isn't about this one vote. I don't think advocates of the CLEAR act need another state AG lobbying for it, whether he cynically thinks it's "just rhetoric" or really does want to hamper local law enforcement's ability to conduct criminal investigation with the cooperation of immigrant communities through CLEAR legislation.

Um, nope

You're wrong, I think.

Each election is, bottom line, about hiring the best of the electable candidates for the job at stake.

No one ever cares when a progressive, or anyone else, opts out of such an election. The winner will take office and serve for years, and everyone will forget how many people voted or who didn't vote.

So, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a protest vote, or any sense in opting out. The protest is solely in the mind of the protesting voter, never understood, acknowledged, or cared about by anybody else. And voting only makes sense in a social, not a personal, context.

In a larger sense, again in my opinion, the community is not served well when progressives opt out, and thus choose to allow all non-progressives to select an important elected official, in this case, the AG.

I am leaning toward voting for Corbett, but I'm still not sure.

I just know that I feel responsible for making a choice.

Yes, Sam, you're right

No political party ever goes over electoral results when they lose and try to figure out what went wrong. Please. Political operatives completely eschew analysis, debriefs, and reflections? What planet are you from? Have you read a single newspaper about modern political planning and vote targetting in the past 4+ years? You think election strategies are just pulled out of a hat or decided at a "gee whiz, how will we campaign this time" meeting? Really? Morganelli was "just a name" who could "do a job" and the state party may not have calculated his xenophobia pandering would lead to more votes than it'd lose? I definitely got to look into political consultant for a future career. Apparently I just sit around and just watch where the wind blows every couple of years and forget about it.

You vote for Corbett, you're voting for someone who would like to see his office with an expanded ability to restrict a woman's right to choose. If you're fine with that, that's a different matter, and we'll just leave our respective stances on reproductive rights alone. If you can hold your nose and do that, well ... that stink you're blocking may stick with you "for years to come." I refuse to do so, and that is my right, and in this one instance in my brief history of 15 years of voting, I also believe it is the only thing my conscience allows me to do.

I do think in general pragmatism can allow for protest votes

I know there was a whole discussion around my part of the world about whether write-in votes against politicians folks are displeased with but who never, ever, ever face primary challenges are effective. The fact that that local politico got an unprecedented number of "Mickey Mouse" write-ins made the press and hopefully will embolden an ambitious challenger in the future.

I think a pragmatic voter can make an educated choice to register their protest vote, provided they are realistic in considering fully with indirect results of their choice. Either a protest vote or a vote for Corbett likely helps Corbett be elected (and we all agree he's not our first choice in the best of all possible worlds). Beyond that people should vote their conscience. I have no problem with people who understand the full ramifications of an occasional protest vote, but they should really balance the pros and cons.

Edit: looking at polls Dan posted below it's realistically Corbett's race anyway. NOTA is realistically the best option since its more likely to be read as "next time give us something better than Morganelli". Thanks for the poll, Dan.

MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

First of all, Tom Corbett is

First of all, Tom Corbett is going to kick Morganelli's ass. We should be clear about that. The choice you are presenting is false. Morganelli failed to understand that if you present yourself as a Republican, most people figure they mine as well pick the genuine article.

Second, people get to consider whatever they want when they consider their votes. If I vote for Barack Obama, and I don't vote for a jerk for AG, I am not opting out, I am making a statement that when you adopt disgusting policies, you have no chance to win. The statement, to me, is at least as powerful as voting for a "Democrat" who supports disgusting policies, and who, again, is about to get his ass kicked.

Corbett up 17 points as of

Closeness matters

You're right. If Corbett's got an easy ride, then there's room for so-called protest votes. Because in elections with 17 point leads (when they really are 17% and don't shrink to say 4%), the decision has already been made by the time election day comes around.

In which case, if it makes you feel better, go ahead and cast a protest vote. Despite what some people say, it won't make you go blind.

The modern paradigm for such decisions -- obviously -- is the 2000 presidential election. In states that either Al Gore or George Bush had conceded, folks could "protest vote" to their hearts' content and not really have a bearing on the outcome.

The outcome, the actual choice of a winner -- no matter how you try to parse it -- is the essential bottom line in an election. Sometimes that outcome is already clear by the time the election occurs.

Those "protesting" in non-competitive races do no harm. Nader voters in California '00 didn't hurt anybody.

But those "protesting" in close races are, always -- among other things -- helping elect the person farthest from their own way of thinking. Thus, as we know, those on the left who voted for Nader in Florida or who opted not to vote at all, did -- among other things -- help elect George Bush.

Some may argue protest voters help motivate political dialog sometime afterwards; such voters trade a say in determining the winner of an election for perceived influence in future decisions made by party leaders.

That's a matter for debate, I guess. Leaving aside the fact of who wins -- a BIG fact in an election -- and also leaving aside any notion of being responsible to your community for participating in elections and electing the best nominated people to office -- another BIG fact to progressives, I think -- the strategy of casting "protest votes" or boycotting elections to affect future policy and future elections has a very, very bad history for effectiveness, particularly among people on the left.

First of all, party leaders on both sides look first and mostly at who actually wins a contest to decide which way the wind is blowing for future elections. Thus, right after 2000, you did NOT see the Democratic party move to the left to garner votes from disaffected Nader supporters. The Democratic party circa 2001 and 2002 was interested in getting people in the middle who voted for Bush to come back and vote for them.

Historically, for people on the left to matter to others, we have to vote, and vote Democrat; otherwise no one pays much attention to us. From the time that the academic and radical left kissed the Democratic party good bye partly in Chicago 1968 and later after 1972, right up until 2003 when the fact of the stupid Iraq War became too unbearable for the left to continue NOT participating in American elections in a meaningful way, the left had little effect on American policy and on American elections.

Jimmy Carter's election in 1976 proved an aberration resulting from Richard Nixon's resignation in disgrace in 1974.

In 1980 and 1984, Ronald Reagan's victories convinced the Democratic party to move to the right, which it did, and eventually led to Bill Clinton's nomination and victories (with the help of Ross Perot) in 1992 and 1996. Perot's protest voters -- who were closer to Bush in ideology than they were to Clinton -- helped elect Clinton.

Only when the Left started voting, and voting Democrat again, did the party move back towards us. 2004 helped. In 2006 we helped elect a Democratic Congress. If we dig in and hold places like Pennsylvania, we'll help a elect a Democratic president and an even more Democratic Congress in 2008.

The progressive left wing of the Democratic Party likely will have more to say about who gets nominated and elected in future contests after tomorrow, including the next time the Democrats select an AG candidate. But the reason the party is likely to support a more progressive candidate next time probably won't be because you or I vote for Irv or Seth. It probably, hopefully, will be because the other, more progressive, Democrat running statewide in 2008 -- Barack Obama -- won.

In the meantime, if Corbett's really got a 17 point lead, go ahead and find a name that's meaningful to you to write in.

You can even give your voting hand a name.

Sam, a question

When you do election analysis, you do sometimes look at drop off?

Like if for example the top of the ticket say got 60,000 votes, the mid-level bigot got 20,000 votes and the local progressive state rep got 35,000 votes that means something.* I do think results like than mean that next time better alternatives than Morganelli will consider jumping in and putting up a real fight next time the AG primary rolls around.

* I realize these are crazy made up numbers.

MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

In any election during a presidential year

the questions of likely drop-off and the under vote definitely are features in the narrative that comes out of the election, as its read by consultants. That's true.

But the main feature in that narrative, in terms of whether a state party starts recruiting candidates on the left or on the right, is still who wins.

If McCain wins, it's likely the party recruits on the right. If Obama wins, they likely (hopefully) recruit on the left.

Not that AG candidates are necessarily recruited by the party at all, by the way. But legislative candidates often are.

And, unfortunately, most under-vote problems

are attributed to name recognition, which for most consultants translates into "not enough money to go on tv," or "not enough support from the party infra-structure," which also translates into "not enough money."

I think I'm voting for Corbett

by the way. Devil you know in this case, and also because PA polls have shifted so wildly lately.

(I think) he's the candidate I'd rather have as the AG.

And how will your vote for

And how will your vote for the Republican be analyzed?

As part of the winner's portion, I hope

as always.

The problem, as I see it, is with not caring who the winner is, and then caring only how your vote is "analyzed."

Part of the problem is moral, and as such is very subjective.

I think we all have a moral obligation to the community to 1) participate in elections and 2) make choices in close races when we can discover enough information to decide either which of the electable candidates will do the most good or which will do the most harm. This often means voting for people whom we disagree with on major issues.

I disagree with Corbett re: Choice and his politically-motivated political prosecutions. But Morganelli's stoking xenophobia and hate on Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Reilly seems to me a worse problem, so I'm probably voting for Corbett.

The other part of the problem is practical.

It's been my experience that, in practice,"analysis" always starts with the winner and often ends there.

Those who think otherwise, I believe, are fooling themselves...albeit pleasantly and -- in non-competitive races at least -- harmlessly.

But opting out of key races is a slippery slope.

So you honestly believe that

So you honestly believe that Tom Corbett will be a better Attorney General with your vote and the vote of other Democrats? If so, hey, do your thing. I think, however, that telling people who consider themselves pretty active in all of this what is an acceptable use of their vote- when presented with a situation like this- seems a little presumptuous.

I refer you to Richard Rorty's Achieving Our Country

and admit that I think he's kind of hard on the left of the 1960s. I like the first and last chapters best.

There's a tradition in the American left, and in American Pragmatist writing that's influenced by Rorty, that says principled disengagement with elections -- and Rorty means, specifically, not caring who wins -- is essentially oxymoronic.

There's also a tradition in the American left that says otherwise.

Basically, I agree with Rorty on this issue, so you and I disagree.

Like Rorty, I point to the years that followed 1980 (up until 2003) -- when lots of people on the left did not vote or take much ownership of American elections -- to show why I think it's important to argue against that practice among people on the left now.

So you will be defending Tom

So you will be defending Tom Corbett's policymaking, right?

Of course. The way I see it

the only indefensible position is not caring whether a xenophobe wins.

A beauty of the two party system

is that when you investigate an election honestly, you can ALWAYS justify your vote by saying, "Hey, the other guy was worse."

Defending those we vote for

Hey, Dan, are you ready to defend everything done by people for whom you have voted? When I think of some of the lesser evil Democrats I've voted for over the years, I certainly don't want to be held to that standard. Don't you think that's a little unfair to Sam?

I'm still torn about this but I think I'm going to vote for Corbett although this is one case where a protest vote might make sense. But how can I protest by supporting a libertarian? And a write in is more trouble for everyone.

The whole business about how the interpretation of the vote will have consequences down the road strikes me as a bit precious. Almost no one pays attention to stuff like that and the obvious interpretation of a sharp drop-off of voting from Barack, Wagner, and McCord to Morganelli is that Morganelli is a dud and not acceptable to most Democrats. That is a far more straightforward interpretation than anything else likely to come out of the election and certainly more likely to catch on than Mark Cohen's talmudic exegesis on the propensity of voters to trust Prosecuting Attorney's who are Democrats.

Corbett has had four years in office. Has he done anything especially awful? Or good? He's helped a bit with gun crimes in the city and I've heard that he was reasonably fair in some issues that concerned a union I'm familiar with.

The big thing he's done in the bonusgate investigation which, to my mind, is a good thing overall although I'm not happy with how he has picked on underlings. (But that's how prosecution is done these days by everyone as anyone whose followed the career of, say Elliot Spitzer, can tell you.) Has he been totally fair in prosecuting Ds so far and not Rs? I'm not sure but everyone I know in Harrisburg says that the Ds in the House were a much more obvious target and one that became more complicated as the investigation deepened. Maybe I'm too trusting, but I'm not convinced that Corbett has been politially biased in the investigation. We'll know for sure in the next four years.

So I don't know that any of us who are thinking of voting for Corbett have to worry about having terrible regrets down the road. We can't be sure, but we have to decide on the basis of what we know now. And, on that basis, I think I can live with a vote for Corbett.

No, of course not, but to me

No, of course not, but to me that seems to be the dichotomy that he has set up, and I don't buy into it.

OK I think I see

If I can borrow some terms from statistics.

Voting is a pretty much a dichotomous (or trichotomous) variable.

Our attitude toward candidates is an interval variable and often on more than one dimension

It's hard to collapse an interval variable into a dichotomous variable.

So I've voted for people with a wide range of emotions from tremendous enthusiasm and pride (me!) to happiness on one dimension and unhappiness on another (Bob Casey) to an aggressive effort at stench control while voting (Carter in 1980).

I've sometimes voted for the lesser of two evils and sometimes I've cast a protest vote for a sure loser. I tend to agree with Sam that protest votes are usually useless. But sometimes, when there is not much difference between the other alternatives, I've cast such a vote.

These are sometimes tough judgment calls and I'm often think that there are often good reasons for making more than one choice. Sometimes the right choice seems pretty obvious (Gore in 2000 and Casey in 06). But sometimes the right choice is not at all obvious.

I think this is one such situation and I'm not going to spend much time convincing people to vote one way or another in this race.

I don't know I would be responding now if I didn't need to take a break from the seemingly endless database work I'm doing to get emails out on behalf of state rep candidates in the city and the burbs.

So my recommendation is make a choice and cast your vote spend your time doing something more productive than worrying about this sad race.

Boy, what a mess. Thanks to

Boy, what a mess. Thanks to all, especially MrLuigi, for helping identify some of the issues at hand.

I'm probably as close to a Marakay Rogers fan as you'll find here, as a (mostly) former Green Party activist voting Dem in a Federal race for the first time in a decade. I'm not sure what happened between May & August when I wasn't paying any attention to third party politics. I was astonished, and actually suspected a misprint, when I saw her name in the Lib column on a sample ballot. Last I'd heard, after seeking and receiving the Green Party nomination, she withdrew her candidacy because she'd been asked by the Nader/Gonzalez campaign to run on their ticket. Somehow that didn't come to fruition and now she's thrown her lot in with the Libertarians. Without knowing all the details, that leaves the impression that she's quite fickle in her quest for quixotic ballot access, and that doesn't sit well with me. I also don't think that she's ideologically a correct fit for even the least-offensive Libertarians, even if you look at the narrow issues of the AG's office. While both Greens and Libs are anti-drug war, which is relevant and a position I support, on Second Amendment issues they diverge radically.

Morganelli seems to be everything I hate about the state Democratic party personified, so I'm not doing that.

Let's all write in Irv Ackelsberg. I'd suggest Dan, but he's not a member of the bar yet. Or Mr. Luigi's human, but I don't know his name.

Its Sean D

You once asked me if I could sit on an arts council at a time I couldn't commit the time. We've met a couple of times in person, Thomas T. I'm not a lawyer, just someone who thinks that progressives can and should choose to run "smart and effective" not "bigoted and counterproductive" as an option in law enforcement sometimes. We might be surprised at the results.
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

Irv for AG!

He's almost surely as qualified for the position as Messrs. Morganalli and Corbet, and far less reprehensible. I'm voting for him.


I might go for Seth

Who was a urban prosecutor. No offense to Irv who has great knowledge in other areas of the law.
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

Mercy on Pollworkers

While Irv A. and Seth W. would make excellent AG write-ins, my advice on a night like tomorrow is to have some mercy on your Judge of Elections, and not write anyone in unless you feel really strongly about it.

I do feel strongly about it

I've been following the back and forth re: Corbett + Morganelli, + can't vote for either of them. I also feel strongly that your Dad is a far superior choice to either of them; ditto Seth.


Yeah, I more mean, one vote

Yeah, I more mean, one vote for my old man versus one vote for the green party or whatever.

Apologies to the commissioner

But I'm not pressing for the Green/Lib/whatever button either, precisely bec. the candidate seems very much a "whatever" candidate. With apologies to your old man, NOTA is easier for my cramped handwriting style than your last name.

Zorro, don't forget to let Irv

know that you voted for him because he was "almost as qualified" and "far less reprehensible"! He'll appreciate the elevated standard I'm sure.


I also referred to Irv as

I referred to Irv as being 'almost surely as qualified,' which has a rather different meaning from 'almost as qualified.' I also referred to him as being the 'far superior choice.'

So there,


Does it really annoy the Judge of Elections if you write-in somebody? Is it a big hassle for everyone?

Somebody let me know if that's true so I can do write-ins for every spot on the ballot come Tuesday. (Kidding. I think.)

[er, sorry, this was supposed to be in response to Dan U-A's comment a few posts up.]

It creates extra work, yeah.

It creates extra work, yeah. But, of all nights, I think tomorrow prob isn't the best one to do it.

write-in votes

Anyone need a Thomas W. Blackwell write-in stamp? I've got a few.

I just learned

There's a libertarian candidate. Who ran as the green party candidate in '04.

And her website is like this:

She has my vote.

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