Saturday, May 16, 2009

La bougeotte

One of the arguments that was bantered around when the county converted from the old mechanical voting machines to the computer systems in use now was that supposedly there would be increased opportunities for write in candidates to win. I guess the idea is that the keyboard would be easier than writing in a consistent name in the little boxes you had to use in the machines. Really organized write in candidates would distribute little stickers that could be used as well. I am not sure it has worked. At least I have not heard of any write in candidate coming close to beating candidate named on a ballot. In fact, I have not ever heard of any measured vote count for a write in candidate in a race with someone already on the ballot.

Yet now we have the most contested election in the entire primary: who will win the Republican nomination for mayor of the City of Pittsburgh? Since nobody bothered to go to the effort of filing petitions you have an entirely write in campaign.. a campaign with the distinct possibility that it will be won by someone who isn't a Republican. Last time it took a pretty dedicated effort to get Mark Desantis to get enough votes to beat out LR for the Republican nomination. I have actually asked my lawyer friends if they knew what would happen if one of the candidates on the Democratic side lost but wound up with the most Republican votes.. Could they be on the ballot as a Republican? I have not gotten a clear answer. But ignore that for now.

Now both papers are reporting that there is a candidate seeing the Republican nomination in the primary on Tuesday. The original PG's version says that Mr. Wander Could not be reached for comment. I am pretty sure rule one for all potential politicians is that you really want to return phone calls from reporters. The Trib version has a sentence more of description saying he: "earned a master's degree in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh".

Not quite sure how they got that information since he isn't quoted directly. You would think you would get some sort of quote from the guy if you got a hold of him in person or via a spokesperson (ok, probably no spokesperson as yet). If the Trib's description is correct then the candidate to be has to be the same as the author of this blog: This was the blog big on pushing for the Desantis write in campaign if I recall which would be consistent.

But then it gets odd:

"Josh Wander is currently serving as the elected Pennsylvania State Constable for the Borough of White Oak, located in the south-western area of the state. My top priorities in office have been protecting the security of our country, defending the public, and ensuring equal justice for all. " (emphasis added, web site as of May 14, 2009)

White Oak is not part of the city of Pittsburgh to begin with. The White Oak web page currently lists Mr. Wander as the Constable. But hey, who updates web pages very often. It's unclear if there is a statutory requirement for a constable to reside in the jurisdiction to which they are elected.. and I am not a legal beagle, but there appears to be a common law requirement that you have to live in the community you serve.

Then it gets odder. While there isn't much paper trail on the whole 'community organizer' thing that he is described as in the news articles. No biggie, but he has certainly been in the news. Per the Trib he is the force behind a website that once once dedicated to sending the Statue of Liberty Back to France. No joke. Don't believe me? check out:

That site introduces itself with:

Give the Statue of Liberty back to the French!

Located in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty was a gift of international friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is one of the most universal symbols of political freedom and democracy...

Now it is time to give it back!
They can have their damn Statue!

Well then. If I were this guy, I would start my campaign with a press conference in the French Nationality room in the Cathedral of Learning. He could propose it be converted into the Tajik room or something. Maybe lock himself to a desk or something for some earned media. Not sure he is going to be going on many European junkets or marketing trips if he were to become mayor.

Then the oddest: He also seems to be a published fashion critic, if that is him as well. Probably not, but you never know.

I'm just thinking what the fall debates and forums will be like if this really becomes the Republican nominee. Which all leads to the ultimate question of why the local Republican party does not find someone to get petitions signed and get on the ballot in a normal way. Registration advantage or not, if they believed in their own party you would think they would want a legitimate candidate to shape the debate whether there was a chance of winning or not. The alternative is what is likely to happen again which is either a circus or a candidate who loses to a Democrat for the Republican nomination. That falls somewhere between embarrassing or pathetic.

Cynical as it is, the only explanation that makes sense is Potter's which be put in Slag Heap that the Republicans locally are actively pursuing a strategic retreat as it is called. The last thing they want is a contested race for mayor in the general election because it will only increase Democratic turnout and hurt their chances in the statewide judicial races. Read: Where have all the Republicans gone. It may sound like a pretty short sighted strategy, but makes more sense than anything else that fits the circumstances.

Other than that I am open to suggestions why they let things like this happen? It's not like this is the only cycle where they have fielded no candidate, or very marginal candidates at best. Since he has this military background there is a military saying that sums this all up: Whiskey.........


Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

"I have actually asked my lawyer friends if they knew what would happen if one of the candidates on the Democratic side lost but wound up with the most Republican votes.. Could they be on the ballot as a Republican? I have not gotten a clear answer. But ignore that for now."

Um, no! Let's not!

If it is common practice for an incumbent like Ravenstahl to put in a write-in effort under the opposite flag in order to stave off competition in November, presumably that's because he's allowed on the ballot over there ... meaning a 2nd or 3rd place D finisher *should be able to* appear as an R if they win.

I mean I'm sure the County's lawyers would vociferously disagree, but a judge might not.

Saturday, May 16, 2009 1:15:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I couldn't make myself register as a Democrat, even thought I really did try. I'm not sure what I'm going to do for mayor. I was planning on writing-in Harris.

I know school board elections are different in terms of party structure, but people came to my door one Saturday afternoon and I thought, "The Jehovah's Witnesses aren't dressing very nicely anymore." It turned out to be people asking me to sign a petition for Theresa C-something to get on as a Republican for the school board seat she holds. I refused to sign (I'd rather take a subscription to The Watchtower) and now that all of this ACORN-false registration stuff is in the papers, I'm a bit curious about how to check that nobody signed for me. It isn't like there was an actual Republican to contest the petitions.

Mostly, I'm going to vote because I always have and in case any of the pay-raise judges show-up on the Supreme Court ballot.

Saturday, May 16, 2009 4:25:00 PM  
Blogger jwander said...

Let me address some of your concerns...

First, I do answer calls from reporters. They just ran the story within minutes of my announcing, so I didn't have a chance to speak to them at that time. (I even answer bloggers, on rare occasion ;-)) I have since spoken to representatives of all the local media outlets.

Second, I resigned my position as constable in White Oak and have been living in Pittsburgh for over a year. And yes, I need to update the websites.

Third, the Statue of Liberty thing was a practical joke, as can be heard on the NPR interview that was recorded. I clearly state that this was meant as a joke!

Lastly, to explain the entering of the race so late in the game, I did it as a reaction to Luke Ravenstahl's mailing on Thursday that he wanted to win the Republican slot. Before that the Republican Party DID file a candidate, Kevin Acklin, but at the last minute he decided to switch party affiliation to Independent...

Feel free to contact me if you have any further concerns!

Josh Wander

Saturday, May 16, 2009 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I would point out that this news article from the Trib identifies you as state constable well into 2008? Granted some students wrote it, but I trust Andy C. makes them check everything.

As for the ‘joke’ claim. The Channel 4 version sounds like you wanted folks to take it seriously even if tongue in cheek in the specifics. People forget the context at the time. Whether intended or not, I doubt anyone took such things as jokes contemporaneously. Freedom Fries anyone? I really had a hard time with all these things. At the time I was literally working with the French regularly and they were doing yeoman's work for us. So if there is any doubt, the French didn’t take these things as jokes, the world didn’t take them as jokes.

Sunday, May 17, 2009 10:10:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

France has been a deliberate pain in the ass on so many occasions, I don't see why they should take offense at our jokes or why we should care if they do. From their rushing the gold window to their withdrawal from NATO, France does not miss any shot they can take at the U.S.

My uncle was in the army when France dumped out of NATO and they brought him over from the U.K. to help with the move. He thinks that they would have gotten smashed by protesters (they were unarmed and outnumbered) if it weren't for the French police.

Sunday, May 17, 2009 10:27:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I suppose I should start to consider the de Gaulle years to be past relevance (like Senator Byrd's Klan years). But, I doubt that the percentage of the French who reflexively mock and distrust the U.S. is that much lower than the percentage of Americans who mock and distrust the French.

Sunday, May 17, 2009 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

That was 43 years ago right? Just to not confuse the few folks here who care. France never left NATO itself for the record. They left the military structure. They actually returned last month.

Rushing the gold window? Ha. True enough. Point for knowing US monetary history. Though the implied blame for the French in that is a little like the folks who blame the whistleblowers at Enron for the firm's collapse.

Sunday, May 17, 2009 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I presume this is itself a translation of a wire article.. but google translate gives us the translation of an Indonesian article mentioning Mr. Wander sans any mention of a joke.

Sunday, May 17, 2009 11:43:00 PM  
Blogger jwander said...

There is a difference between a deputy constable (aka constable) on election day and an officially elected constable. That article refers to working at a polling station on election day...I believe it was the last that I did...RE: The French, I'll try to be more diplomatic when I become mayor. ;-)


Sunday, May 17, 2009 11:48:00 PM  
Blogger jwander said...

I guess my joke lost something in least into Indonesian...

Sunday, May 17, 2009 11:51:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

The Enron comparison isn't quite accurate for the case of the French and the gold window. The overhang was hardly a secret the French exposed. Everybody knew about it and knew that something had to be done, but nobody else was willing to bring the system down without a replacement.

And, I'm aware that the French didn't leave NATO entirely. However, when the left the military structure, they did so with less tact than John Bolton used at the U.N.

Sunday, May 17, 2009 11:59:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

we're arguing over what is is

Monday, May 18, 2009 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

Maybe, but I had to learn the history of NATO and Bretton Woods. I now work in the medical school, so I don't get to use that knowledge much.

For no reason other than I like it, I'm attaching my lyrics to "French governments since 1789" (To the tune of '12 days of Christmas').

Five French republics,
Four with no DeGaulle,
Three ousted kings,
Two emperors,
And a Vichy fascist regime.

Monday, May 18, 2009 12:15:00 AM  
Blogger jwander said...

Time to move on...This isn't about FRANCE, this is about PITTSBURGH!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009 8:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Wander might want to check out the requirements to run for mayor. I hope he resigned in White Oak before Nov. 3rd, 2006.

Also, whoever gets the most write-in votes in the primary is the party nominee for November. It does not matter what party they belong too. The total amount of votes in the Primary does not change the amount of votes one receives within a party. See the AC Common Pleas election in 2005.

Primary: Flaherty received a total of 78,381 votes (65,595 Dems & 12,786 Rep) Roger Wise received a total of 28,645 (18,046 Dems & 10,599 Rep). Roger Wise was just a Republican candiate for Judge in the fall.

Whoever recieves the most amount of write-in votes and that amount is at least 250, they will be on the ballot as the Repulican Candidate for Mayor in November.

Monday, May 18, 2009 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Schultz said...

I think it's safe to say that Mr. Wander's probably further to the right than any Republican that's ever ran for mayor of Pittsburgh, maybe even further right than Rick Santorum for that matter. He thought we should give the Statue of Liberty back to France? I suppose he jumped on that bandwagon after Chirac refused to support the Iraq war effort. Basically, he's your card carrying neo-conservative Republican. A Rush Limbaugh listening, Hardcore "card carrying" NRA member, thinks that government spending and progressive taxation equates to socialism, thinks Sarah Plain is a genius, etc, etc.

Monday, May 18, 2009 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger jwander said...


I take it I have your endorsement then...;-)

Monday, May 18, 2009 1:06:00 PM  
Blogger Schultz said...

haha, never. Seriously though. You make Pat Toomey seem like a liberal. If you do get the Republican nod will you tell voters that you can see Cleveland from your back porch?

Monday, May 18, 2009 5:32:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

It just occurred to me. I'm a little slow. If somehow people were supposed to realize the Eifel Tower thing was just a joke, how do we know this write in campaign is not a joke as well. Maybe we are all being had?

Monday, May 18, 2009 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

That home rule charter sure is worth reading:


The mayor shall have been a resident of the City for at least three years immediately preceding election, unless absent on the public business of the United States or this Commonwealth, and shall reside in the City while serving as mayor.

Monday, May 18, 2009 11:44:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I'm not writing-in anybody who just announced the week before, not matter how much I enjoy mocking France. I may write in Charles DeGaulle. He may have been a huge pain in the ass to his allies, but he was good for France, knows that Germans need keeping in line, and he's not a Democrat.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 9:12:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

Also, if you want to maximize your comments, you should probably try to write a post that mentions the Port Authority and France.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 9:13:00 AM  
Blogger jwander said...

I've been a city resident for three years as per the requirements and this is NO joke!



Tuesday, May 19, 2009 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First Josh Pollock, now Josh Wander. Is Josh a better name for a mayor than Luke? (Just joshing, or perhaps, "wandering".)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 10:48:00 AM  
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