Editorial: No time for bullies
By Richard Gaw
Jack London, the Republican candidate for State Senate in Pennsylvania’s 19th District, has spent the better part of the last few months pressuring Democratic Senator Andy Dinniman, to commit to a series of debates. London provided a list of more than 25 dates in August through October to assist accommodating the Senator’s schedule, and also tossed out some potential hosts.
To date, Dinniman has not committed to any of them. However, he has said 'Yes' to an event, sponsored and moderated by the League of Women Voters of Chester County (LWVCC), that will gather he and London together on Oct. 23 at Borough Hall in West Chester, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. You don't have to peer at your calendar; that's a Sunday afternoon, about one hour after the Philadelphia Eagles begin their National Football League game against the visiting Minnesota Vikings at Lincoln Financial Field. That's a Sunday afternoon, a time when most of Chester County will be visiting family or running errands or gathering in parental packs at the edges of youth soccer pitches.
In complete fairness and respect, the LWVCC enjoys an outstanding reputation for gathering the opponents of our various political races together in a very civilized format of informational exchange, in a kind of “Meet the Candidates” forum. These gatherings are independent and impartial and they are exceptionally run, but they are forums, not debates.
Jack London wants a debate.
In press releases and public statements, London, a private businessman who lives in Avondale, wants to ask Dinniman the tough questions. He wants straight answers from Dinniman. He wants to pull the truth out of him. He wants to take the easy money and directly connect Dinniman to the failings of the Wolf administration, to every delay, to every misappropriation of funds. He wants to challenge his opponent, whom he has referred to during his campaign as a “career politician, who has zero private sector experience, whose benefits and pensions are paid for by taxpayers.”
“For more than 10 years, Senator Dinniman has represented the 19th district but has failed to really tell us where he stands on issues that matter to the region,” London said recently in a press release that appears on his website. “The voters should demand that we answer their questions and not settle for answers solely through tweets, posts, and press releases. That’s why I am asking Senator Dinniman to participate in series of debates throughout this campaign.”
London's adamant desire to grapple with Dinniman in the ring of local politics – and let's face it, under his own rules – would go a great length to satisfy a political outsider's “itch” to get under the skin of a long-time legislator, and throughout his campaign, London has filled that role perfectly. And who can blame him? The corridors of our federal and state governments are ripe with career politicians running from the wolves at their doors, and a debate whose guidelines encourage political interrogation would turn London into some kind of anti-hero for the common man and woman.
It would also quickly turn him into exactly what voters do not want – another Trumpian-like bullwhip, shimmering with spectacle and short on substance. It would kill his political career and strike a match to his progressive platform, which aims to strengthen education through accountability and performance; the elimination of the Keystone Exam as a requirement for graduation; to reform the Commonwealth's public pension system so schools can invest more in education; to better manage property taxes to better allow seniors and families to remain in their homes; to improve infrastructure and support law enforcement and first responders.
During his campaign, London has has become a great friend to the small business owner, and has received the support of Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry and the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association. His voice has made an otherwise pedestrian race relevant. In the slim weeks before the Nov. 8 election, now is not the time to divert from the tenets of his platform.
We advise London to rescind the debate invitations to his opponent. After all, bullies are soon forgotten. Conversely, reformers are often elected, again and again.