So Many Questions
Are these the last days of John Perzel?
Could the House Speaker be the next one to fall to the forces that already have defeated his Senate counterpart, President Pro Tem Bob Jubelirer?
That's the intriguing question rasied by my colleague, Mario Cattabiani, in a piece that ran Sunday in The Inquirer. There's lots of evidence to indicate that the Speaker could be in jeopardy.
And, if Perzel is going down -- not now, not in November, but after the fall election, when it comes time to reorganize the state House -- what do you do if you are a Democrat?
First of all, I bet that Perzel survives.
His caucus may be going more conservative, but the Philadelphia Republican is politically skilled and probably has enough chits out amongst his members to to hold onto his job.
Besides, you can't beat a someone with a no one -- and a strong, alternative candidate to Perzel has yet to emerge.
But, a weakened Perzel could make life miserable for Ed Rendell in his second term. Hamstrung by his own caucus, Perzel might have to go anti-Rendell all the time in order to maintain his job as Speaker.
The Senate Republicans -- with the departure of Jubelirer and GOP Majority Leader Chip Brightbill -- look like they are going to tilt to the right and make life (even more) miserable for the governor.
Let's face it, the Speaker is often the only Republican who seems willing to deal with Rendell. (A point often raised by his enemies within the caucus).
So, what do you do if you are Rendell?
Do you work hard to have the Democrats take over the House? They are 8 seats away from becoming a majority, so it wouldn't be easy. But you could direct money and political support to those districts in contention and make it a holy cause.
Do you concentrate on your own campaign and let the chips fall where they may in the legislative races? Rendell did a variation on that two years ago, when he refused to lift a finger to support Democrats running against Republican incumbents who supported his first tax plan and budget.
Do you want no Perzel or a weakened Perzel?
Do you want to live through the agony of four more years of having both chambers controlled by a more conservative Republican party?
With your own re-election looking secure, do you seize the moment and go after control of at least one chamber of the legislature?
So many questions, so little time.