Longtime activist Gene Stilp and W-B asst. city attorney Bill Vinsko are vieing for the Democratic nomination to take on frosh GOP Congressman Lou Barletta in the 11th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. This is the first election since Pennsylvania became a state that Wilkes-Barre won't be in the 11th District thanks to the latest Harrisburg gerrymander. The salon's in HB drew the lines to put Vinsko's house outside the district after he already declared that he was running. So if he wins the primary the Barletta camp can call him a carpetbagger although the US Constitution requires that he/she be "an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen".. A Wall Street Journal story highlighted the stratergy (paywall).
"[Republicans] began to focus on bolstering endangered incumbents...To help Mr. Barletta, GOP leaders shifted two Democratic-leaning cities, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre , out of his district…GOP leaders took one wedge out of Mr. Barletta's 11th congressional district that Democrats say looks drawn specifically to exclude the home of Mr. Barletta's leading challenger, Bill Vinsko."
"State Senate Republican Leader Dominic Pileggi makes no apologies for using redistricting to bolster GOP incumbents in [Pennsylvania]...He added that redistricting doesn't guarantee a winner in the fall. 'A lot depends on the quality of the candidates.’
Vinsko's response: “Republican State Senator Pileggi and I are in complete agreement,” said Bill Vinsko, “Redistricting doesn’t guarantee a win because the quality and character of a candidate matters more to the people and I firmly believe that in this election the integrity of our campaign and the strength of our message will win the day with the people of Northeast and Central Pennsylvania.”
Vinsko and Stilp had a faceoff at Wyoming Seminary in Kingston last Thursday that they agreed to keep it clean and agreed on most issues.
Vinsko, Stilp engage in congenial debate
You can catch them on PCN tonight.
Tuesday LIVE at 7pm: PCN 11th Congressional Town Hall at Bloomsburg University
Both Democrats have struggled raising money. After a great start Vinko slowed down gathering only $28K in the first quarter of 2012 with $31,000 cash on hand. Stilp's report isn't on the FEC website yet. Barleta's fundraising numbers are not that great for sitting member of Congress but has an advantage. In the 1st Q he gathered $124K with cash on hand of $239K. It sucks that we have to discuss money in an election just like it stinks that we have to discuss the contracts of baseball players. After the recent Supreme Court decisions saying money is speech some people have louder voices than the rest of us.
With all that said will people get past Bill Vinsko being the front man for every controversy in Wilkes-Barre such as the million dollar fire truck or decide that Gene Stilp is about more than a big pink pig?
4 hours ago