Dawn of a new era?

I was still trying to digest the brouhaha between Delco Republicans and Bryan Lentz when it was eclipsed by another political bombshell.

Let me try to explain.

Lentz this week decided to fire a shot across the bow of longtime state Rep. Mario Civera. If you remember, Civera, R-164, of Upper Darby, seemed to make it pretty clear that he would give up his seat in the Legislature if he was successful in his run for County Council. To absolutely no one’s surprise Civera and incumbent Jack Whelan rolled to an easy win in the county.

But to a lot of people’s surprise, Civera suddenly got cold feet about his pledge to give up his seat. Now he’s talking about staying on to work through next year’s budget.

This did not escape Lentz’s notice. The Democrat, who represents the 161st District, announced he would put up legislation that would outlaw the practice of elected officials holding two seats. He never mentioned Civera, but it’s pretty clear he was the target.

The legislation sparked a spirited response from Civera’s fellow GOPers in the Delco state House delegation. They castigated Lentz as a hypocrite, noting he’s busy himself running for the 7th District Congress seat being vacated by Joe Sestak.

Which is fine except for one thing. Lentz’s bill didn’t target “running”
for two offices. It seeks to outlaw actually “holding” two of them.
There’s a bit of a difference.

Ironically, among those blasting Lentz was state Rep. Tom Killion, R-168, who happens to be running for lieutenant governor. It’s done all the time.

There’s also the small matter of a possible special election on primary day, when Democrats are expecting a huge turnout for races in both the 7th District Congress race as well as the donnybrook between Joe Sestak and Arlen Specter in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary.

It didn’t look like there was going to be much to drive Republican voters to the polls that day, making it a distince possibility they could lose Civera’s House seat.

After all, Pat Toomey is going to be their guy in the Senate race. And almost everyone was in agreement that Pat Meehan would be the man in the 7th. It did not look as if either would even have a primary opponent.

Uh, maybe not. Yesterday it was revealed that former Fox 29 anchor Dawn Stensland is mulling a run vs. the former U.S. Attorney and Delco D.A.

When contacted yesterday afternoon, Stensland wasn’t saying much, but she wasn’t denying the possibility either.

She wouldn’t be the first TV anchor to seek office. Diane Allen serves in the New Jersey state Senate. Ironically, Stensland’s husband, former anchor Larry Mendte, was once approached by the Delco GOP to run against Joe Sestak.

Of course, Mendte has had some problems of his own, including a guilty plea to the federal charges surrounding his relationship with fellow NBC-10 anchor Alycia Lane.

I don’t have any clue where Stensland stands on the issue. But I do know this. She has huge visibility in the region. I would say she’s probably better known than Meehan.

Whether or not she actually decides to get in the race remains to be seen. She offered this quote yesterday: “The only thing I can tell you is I was married in Delaware County, half my family is in Delaware County, I love Delaware County.”

It remains to be seen just how much the Delco GOP loves her, and the idea of her challenging their standard-bearer.

Yesterday most county GOP leaders indicated they were still solidly behind Meehan.

Right now Stensland and Mendte do not even live in the district; they reside in Chestnut Hill. That would not preclude her from seeking the seat, although she could always move. She also currently is registered as an independent. That would have to change.

Then there is the matter of why? One theory being floated is that this is a move to get back at Meehan, who headed the department that prosecuted her husband. Another is that she is being courted by conservatives who aren’t in love with Meehan.

At any rate, it’s big news, even for a former TV new anchor.

You might call it the Dawn of a new era.


goodgovtgrl said…
Lentz doesn't go far enough- people shouldn't be allowed to run for two or more offices. Also, no one should hold appointed political office and also run for another. Hatch Act provisions are repeatedly skirted here in Delaware County and its municipalities, supported by legal hair-splitting, nudges and winks.

If one person could hold only one appointed job or elected office in Delaware County, the unemployment rate would drop at least 4%.

Lentz and Sestak must resign from their current posts; others don't and haven't: Obama, Clinton, Biden, McCain, and Palin all campaigned with the cushion of maintaining their current offices.