Barb Wins!

Kate’s mom Barb McIlvaine Smith won a narrowly-contested election in 2006, taking the 156th district seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by about 28 votes. This after a recount that lasted six weeks, all while Bob had been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. It was a really difficult time.

Barb won the seat, though, giving the PA House a Democratic majority, and she’s been doing a great job there. She passed puppy-mill legislation, balanced the state budget, strode into a room full of cigar-chewing politicos and smashed their porkpie hats, and when a train was speeding towards a broken bridge, she used her body to fill the gap in the rail. Jokes aside, she’s a great legislator. Just as a for-instance, she takes the train to work, does not accept a state car, and posts all her legislative expenses online. Barb was a Republican most of her life — a “fiscal conservative”, and I wish to GOD I knew where all those old-school republicans that I could respect have gone.

Barb’s opponent ran a tacky and comically inept campaign, smearing her by: sending out flyers that referenced senate bills (Barb is is the house, not the senate!), digging up as an “environmental scandal” (using a real-live private investigator!) that Barb, a dedicated environmentalist, had a part-time job for a few months as an accounts-payable clerk for Toll Brothers in the eighties, and (my favorite), lifting this photo I took from Flickr and putting it on a mailer claiming Barb was “Milking Taxpayers!”


It’s hard to know how much righteous anger to summon when you’re getting stuff in the mail that is:

  1. Disingenuous (grr!)
  2. Factually incorrect, in many cases (GRR!!)
  3. Contain apostrophization and homonym errors (SMASH!!!!), but then are
  4. Just plain INEFFECTIVE. (cue sad trombone noise.)
    The prevailing voter reaction on getting the “Milking Taxpayers” mailer seemed to be “oh look! Barb knows how to milk a cow! She’s enjoying herself! Yay for Barb!”

Okay, enough venting about that, here’s the great news. Last time, Barb won by 23 votes. This year (drum roll, please)… by 2,200 votes! Hurrah!

BARBARA MCILVAINE SMITH (DEM).  .  .  .    18,143   53.23
SHANNON ROYER (REP) .  .  .  .  .  .  .    15,909   46.68
WRITE-IN.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .        32     .09

Congratulations, Barb, on your victory, and by winning on a campaign that just talked about your record. Here’s to two more years of kicking butt in Harrisburg, and I can’t wait to see, in two more years, what the attack mailers do with this photo!

You know, now that this election is over, I find that I do have more to say about my disgust and embarrassment at the way the state Republican Campaign Committee conducted themselves during this election.

The attack mailers against Barb were comically inept, it’s true, but it reveals an overall pattern of aiming low that really makes me angry. WHERE, for god’s sake, are the “fiscal conservative” republicans? The republicans that I could have an argument with and respect? “Spend less on social services, because X!” “Invest more in infrastructure, but not through risky bond issues, because Y!” “Lower taxes, because economic theory Z!” I could have an argument about that, and have full respect for the other person.

Instead, the local Republicans this cycle prepared, published, and came within a whisker of handing out a mailer trying to link our incumbent Democratic state senator to terrorism, showing a picture of him accepting an award from a suspiciously middle-eastern looking man. Who was that suspicious-looking man? THE UNIVERSALLY BELOVED CHIEF OF STAFF AT THE @#$@#@$# CHESTER COUNTY HOSPITAL. Once that was discovered, the local committee hurriedly pulled the piece. Excuse me while I ask Star Trek’s Captain Picard to express my sentiment:

I am not posting this because I want to kick the republicans while they are down, but because I hope they will join me in agreeing that the republican party – nationally and locally – has gotten itself down a really weird, bad, and destructive blind alley. Where are the good republicans? Where are the ones that think that, from the point of view of the state, marriage is a tax issue? Where are the ones that don’t just say knee-jerk “lower taxes”, but instead say “spend frugally, reasonably, and wisely in the long run, so spend less here and here?”

Shee-it, it makes me want to switch parties and pitch in to reboot the Rs. I want a party across the aisle that I can reach out to, have a conversation with, and hammer out an agreement with, not have to do all this fearmongering. I AM SICK AND TIRED OF PEOPLE SPREADING FEAR, and I really really really want to work together with ALL Americans — not just the ones that I agree with — so that we can have a @#$@#$ COUNTRY again.

Update 2:
Local blogger Rodeo Princess posted a really wonderful, thoughtful story about her experience as a poll watcher yesterday.

3 responses to “Barb Wins!”

  1. HAHAHA when I first saw that TeeHee photo a few days ago my first thought was that exactly… oh great, how are they gonna twist that into slandor.
    When I got that flyer in the mail I laughed b/c I knew where it came from and just thought it was so funny. Also, I had it sitting on my coffee table and everyone that saw it thought it was an advertisement for Barb, saying how good she looked and how its nice to see a politician get their hands dirty.
    Anyway, Congrats Barb! See ya around town…


  2. I completely agree with you John. I’m thrilled Barb won by the way and glad our two votes were counted for her! I miss the old republican party, it has been completely hijacked by fear mongering, religious zealots who are so desperate for support they have been stooping low – going after the low hanging fruit of our nation – ignorance and fear. Well I’m proud to say that democracy works (as an aside take that Medvedev!) and the American people have proved we vote with our heads – not our fight or flight response.


  3. Thank you for the kind mention, John. Please tell Barb she is, as always, an inspiration to me. As Governor Rendell said, She’s not only one of the good guys, she makes everyone else sit a little straighter.
    One of the things I wonder about, is why is the Republican Party suddenly the party of Joe the Plumber, Todd the Snowmobiler and Sarah the Stewardess? The Republican party of my youth was Harvard and Grey Suited and Stuffy. Paternalistic. Debate Club not Debase Club. Well, let’s get to work on cleaning this mess up!


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