Welcome back, Mario
When I walked out to meet him, he had a broad smile on his face. That’s not unusal for Mario. And not because he’s campaigning. Civera, the Upper Darby Republican who has represented the 164th District in Harrisburg about as long as anyone can remember, is turning over a new leaf.
Civera is leaving the state House to run for County Council, along with incumbent Jack Whelan. They are facing off against Democrats Nancy Baulis and Keith Collins.
Three of the candidates have been busy knocking on doors all across the county.
Civera has been trying to do likewise, but he’s had this other little thing on his mind. It’s called a state budget.
Civera is the House minority chairman for Appropriations. That makes him a big player when it comes to the state budget. And it put him at ground zero in the 101-day impasse that brought this state to a grinding halt and made it something of a national embarrassment.
Civera actually paid a visit to the office in late summer, along with Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-9, of Chester, to voice their exasperation at the governor and his fellow Democrats in terms of what they were trying to accomplish.
At the time I joked with him if he would be uncomfortable if the budget dragged out into September or October and he would be forced to campaign for council without a state spending plan in place.
At least I thought I was joking. At one point I even asked him what he would do if the budget battle dragged on with no deal in sight, if he would consider getting out of the race for county council. He said he would not, that he had made up his mind, that he was leaving Harrisburg.
It just took a lot longer than he ever envisioned.
Civera joked when he saw me because we both knew exactly what the other was thinking, that neither of us in late summer ever thought the budget battle would go on that long.
Civera offered a couple of other nuggets of what his life has been like the past 101 days. One is that he saw some things happen in Harrisburg that, literally, he has never seen before. And Civera has seen just about everything. A month ago Civera sounded perplexed at the constantly shifting stances taken by the governor, as well as House Democrats. He said at one point he actually had different people who were in a position to know tell him that table games were out of the budget deal, and that they were still in, only at the same time.
He also offered a bit of a warning. He said there are some serious storm clouds forming over Pennsylvania, specifically problems with the state employees public pension plans that are going to cause some serious budget problems in the next couple of years.
That will be someone else’s worry now.
Civera now can concentrate on the job at hand, keeping the GOP lock on the county courthouse intact.
I don’t doubt he’ll be smiling all the way. Anybody who survives what he just did for the last 101 days deserves at least that.