When I was first involved in politics you had to get the blessing of the local political boss if you wanted to run for office. In Luzerne County that man was State Senator Marty Murray. He demanded 2 things, loyalty and obedience. If you paid you're dues and he thought you were ready he would back you for elective office. Former Controller Steve Flood tells a funny story about the time he told Marty he was going to run for office. Murray told him not to until he gave him the OK. When Flood pressed the issue Murray told him the lamp on his desk would beat him if it had his blessing. Steve ran anyway and the breathing equivalent of the lamp won the election.
The new political guru is Ed Mitchell, he doesn't demand loyalty or obedience just money. In the last county election Luzerne County Controller Maryanne Petrilla paid his company over $100,000 to get elected. His clients are are a who's who of the local political establishment. Congressman Kanjorski, Bob Casey Jr., Prothonatary Jill Moran, DA Dave Lupas, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty, State Reps. John Yudichak, Phyllis Mundy, Kevin Blaum, a bunch of Judges and many more.
His new project is Brian O'Donnell, a Wilkes -Barre Area School Director who is running to succeed Kevin Blaum as the 121st District Represenative in the General Assembly. Mitchell describes him as "new blood." I just think he's got the best chance to win," Mitchell said. "I like the fact that he's somewhat of an outsider." If my memory is right he is part of the establishment of office holders and his brother Brian ran against Ralph Musto a few years ago but was torpedoed when Trini entered the race splitting the anti-Musto vote in some sort of deal with the devil.
So O'Donnell won the Mitchell sweepstakes and must have the cash to pay his company what it will take to win.
In addition to O'Donnell, six Democrats have expressed interest in their party’s nomination in May. Potential candidates include Wilkes-Barre Councilman Mike McGinley, Luzerne County Clerk of Courts Bob Reilly, city Administrator J.J. Murphy, city Solicitor Tim Henry, former city Administrator Jim Hayward and Plains Township resident Jim Williamson, a junior at Princeton University. On the Republican side, only Christine Katsock, who lost to Blaum in 2004, has announced a campaign
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