Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Predictions for November election

I've been thinking a lot about pundits lately. What exactly is a pundit anyway? How do you become a pundit? Is there a pundit club you can join? Are there membership dues? Is there a secret initiation?

I see a lot of people on TV who are described as pundits, but most of the time they don't know what they're talking about. A lot of college professors are often referred to as pundits, but I wonder about them. Some of these so-called intellectuals have been so isolated from the real world for so long, it's hard for them to tell night from day.

The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines a pundit as: "A person who gives opinions in an authoritative manner, usually through the mass media." That sounds like me. I work for a newspaper. I've been on more than a dozen radio programs this year. I've been on the Pennsylvania Cable Network twice in the past three months. I'm sure this qualifies me as a pundit.

The one thing the definition of pundit doesn't cover is whether pundits have to be right more often than they’re wrong. A lot of pundits get things wrong.

The pundits never thought the outrage over the July 2005 legislative pay raise would last more than a few weeks. It's 13 months later and we’re still talking about the pay raise. At least I am. The pundits didn't think it was possible for a Pennsylvania judge to lose a retention vote, but tell that to former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Russell Nigro, who was tossed out by more than 800,000 voters in November 2005. The pundits said the legislature would never repeal the pay raise, but the politicians did just that.

A prominent Pennsylvania pundit kept saying right up to the May 2006 primary that only a handful of incumbent legislators would lose. Wrong again. Seventeen lawmakers lost in the primary, including the top two Republican leaders in the state Senate. Considering that the re-election rate for Pennsylvania legislators had been 98 percent, the defeat of 17 incumbents was a political seismic shock. And don’t forget that 30 other legislators "retired" instead of facing the voters.

Now the pundits are saying that Gov. Ed Rendell will coast to re-election this November. The pundits also say that Rick Santorum's days in the U.S. Senate are numbered. They also see Democrats winning control of the U.S. House and Senate.

As someone who's been right so far about the political winds of change in Pennsylvania, I'd like to offer my predictions for the coming elections.

Pennsylvania governor
Gov. Ed Rendell will lose to Lynn Swann. Forget the polls. The only poll that matters is on Election Day. Rendell has broken his promise to cut taxes, has saddled Pennsylvania with the worst gambling law in the country and Pennsylvania has become a more dangerous place to live because of Rendell's neglect of crime. Philadelphia will set a new homicide record this year. Reading, Allentown and Lancaster are places you don't want to be when the sun goes down. All those catchy tourism ads won't change the fact that the average Pennsylvanian is far worse off today than he was four years ago.

U.S. Senate
Sen. Rick Santorum will defeat Bob Casey Jr. The more you know about Casey, the less there is to like about this clueless ultra-liberal career bureaucrat. The U.S. Senate is no place for on-the-job training and Casey needs a lot more schooling. Casey's only foreign policy experience is visiting the Jersey Shore.

6th Congressional District
This is my home district, so I'm paying close attention to it. Rep. Jim Gerlach will beat back challenger Lois Murphy, who is even more liberal than Casey. Murphy wants to raise taxes, force socialized medicine on us and push her radical social agenda in Congress. We already have Hillary Clinton to do that. Murphy's shrill attacks and distortions of Gerlach's record has grown tiresome with voters in the 6th District.

Other Congressional races
Several other Republican congressmen, namely Curt Weldon, Mike Fitzpatrick, Charlie Dent and Joe Pitts, will return to Washington. I see one incumbent from the Pennsylvania delegation (Don Sherwood) losing, but I also think Democrat John Murtha, leader of the "cut-and-run" brigade on Iraq, will lose. Murtha is an embarrassment to Pennsylvania and the nation.

Control of Congress
Forget what the pundits keep saying. The House and the Senate will remain in Republican control, although the GOP will probably lose a few seats in each chamber. Despite President Bush's poor job approval numbers and his bungling of Iraq, Americans understand there's too much at stake to hand over Congress to the Democrats.

Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. E-mail him at


Casey Roncaglione said...

Mario Civera will lose. That's my prediction, but I may be biased. I'm Casey Roncaglione, Mr. Civera's opponent in the 164th legislative district, Upper Darby Township. There is an undercurrent here of reform. I may be a Democrat, but I am first an American and a Pennsylvanian. Mr. Civera has sold his soul and the people here know it.