After Pennsylvania voters go to the polls on Tuesday and wrap up a relatively quiet municipal election cycle, a slew of races will officially kick off for the next Election Day. And at the top of the ticket in 2006 will be the quest for the governor's mansion.
In October's Quinnipiac University poll, voters in the commonwealth give Gov. Ed Rendell a 46 percent approval rating, down 5 percentage points from the beginning of the year. According to the university's polling institute, Rendell has steadily dropped since the 2005 high of 51 percent to his current rating, one of his lowest since being elected.
Still, Philadelphia's former mayor scores well against potential GOP opponents in a head-to-head matchup: 47 percent to 34 percent over former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton, 47 percent to 34 percent over former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann, and 52 to 26 percent over state Sen. Jeff Piccola.
But a poll released two weeks ago by McLaughlin & Associates, commissioned by state Republicans, concluded that 47 percent of Pennsylvanians believe that change should come to Harrisburg.
Nevertheless, Piccola, Scranton and Swann each received about one-third of the electorate in head-to-head match-ups against Rendell.
Looking at the numbers, Clay F. Richards, assistant director of Quinnipiac's polling institute, saw good news for Rendell.
Said Richards: "For a governor who signed the despised legislative pay raise and saw his plan to use gambling money to lower property taxes go down in flames, Ed Rendell ought to be called 'Teflon Ed.' "
In the Next Race
While Gov. Ed Rendell was appearing at the top of the heap in last month's Quinnipiac University poll, incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) again came out on the bottom of his re-election contest against Democratic state Treasurer Robert Casey Jr.
According to the poll, Casey has opened up a 52 percent to 34 percent lead over Santorum, the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate.
Casey, however, faces a primary challenge from Democrat Chuck Pennachio. In a recent e-mail to reporters, the underdog took swipes at Casey for reportedly refusing to face off against him in a debate.
New Web Site's Got Maps!
In advance of Election Day next week, the Philly watchdog group Committee of Seventy has launched a new Web site that officials promise will be more user-friendly.
Among the offerings on the site, www.seventy.org, are an interactive polling locator to tell users exactly where to cast their ballots as well as provide them with maps, and a comments form on which visitors can log their thoughts.
The new Web site is the latest change for the organization, which recently saw the appointment of former Philadelphia Daily News editor Zack Stalberg to be the group's president and CEO.
His War Chest Overfloweth
He may not have a challenger yet, but freshman state Rep. Josh Shapiro (D-District 153) boasts a sizable war chest for his re-election fight next year.
According to a report filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State last week, Shapiro raised nearly $120,000 so far this year, and has more than $111,000 cash on hand.
Shapiro was elected to the General Assembly last year after he defeated former U.S. Rep. Jon D. Fox for the Abington seat vacated by Republican Ellen Bard.
Bard lost in last year's GOP primary against Melissa Brown in a bid to be elected to Congress.