"What's black and white and read all over?"

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Posted 10:59 PM by

Pa. primary voters send a message

"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves."
- From Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)
Of course, we all know what happened to Casear in the end. Now, for some would-be Caesars who also deserved their comeuppance.

Despite a light turnout, reformers and vengeance-minded voters in Pennsylvania can claim victory in Tuesday's primary election after Senate Majority Leader David "Chip" Brightbill conceded his race to Mike Folmer shortly before 10 p.m.

Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Jubelirer, whom some call the architect of last year's legislative pay raise, appeared to be defeated last night by former Blair County commissioner John Eichelberger.And with three-quarters of the vote counted in Blair County, Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Jubelirer appeared to be on his way to defeat too, trailing former county commmissioner John Eichelberger, 7,023-4,877.

Jubelirer, who some call the architect of last year's legislative pay raise, was also partly responsible for its repeal in November.

All of this comes after veteran state senator Vince Fumo predicted no incumbent legislators would lose reelection in the wake of taxpayer outrage over the pay raise.

"I think it's one thing to say you're mad at your current legislator or senator over the pay raise," Fumo told the Pennsylvania Press Club last month. "But when you get into the heat of the campaign and people are going to be reminded of everything else they've done for that district in the past ... I think in the end, [the incumbents] are going to be successful."

Brightbill ran a negative primary campaign against Folmer, a relative political newcomer and produce store owner, at one point dredging in Folmer's former paramour from while he was separated from his wife.

The six-term incumbent had reason to be running scared.

Brightbill not only supported last year's pay raise, he took it early in the form of "unvouchered expenses." After it was repealed in November, he opted to pay it back.

In the wake of outrage over the raise, though, Brightbill's name became infamous around the state for taking $18,000 worth of per-diems. The $141 per day allowance is designed to help lawmakers who travel to Harrisburg from more than 50 miles away. But Brightbill only lives 26.2 miles away from his Senate office.

Brightbill also made news for returning $20,000 in campaign contributions from companies owned by slots parlor hopeful Louis DeNaples, in part because they arrived after the slots law was passed in 2004 and were therefore illegal.

The law barred political contributions from slots parlor interests, but did not bar lobbying by them or contributions laundered through other organizations.

Although Brightbill opposed the slots bill, he reportedly accepted more than $52,000 from lobbyists and individuals with ties to gambling interests before it was passed.

Senate Majority Leader David 'Chip' Brightbill was the first of at least two legislative leaders to be ousted from office Tuesday by angry voters.Jubelirer, another slots parlor opponent, also accepted $20,000 from companies owned by DeNaples, a Dunmore banker and owner of a landfill and auto parts store.

DeNaples, who is also a felon, gave more than $1 million to the state's top politicians since 2000 in hopes of receiving one of two standalone slots parlor licenses for Mount Airy Lodge in the Poconos.


After the November general election, new legislators will have their hands filled fixing problems leftover from this session and many others. Among them:


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