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Surfing for information on Pa governor's race

A wealth of information can be found online.

Courier Times

Quick, where does Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Casey Jr. stand on tax reform?

How would his May 21 primary opponent, Ed Rendell, improve education in the state?

Don't know? Those answers and more - a lot more - are just a few mouse clicks away on a slew of Web sites dedicated to the Pennsylvania governor's race.


One of the newest and most comprehensive sites - www.IssuesPA.net - just posted the results of a 50-issue survey of the five candidates vying for the state's top office.

Republican Mike Fisher is on the primary ballot. He is unopposed in the primary. Libertarian candidate Ken Krawchuk and Green Party candidate Michael Morrill aren't on the primary ballot because they've already been nominated by their parties.

Although the other candidates won't face the winner of the Democratic race until November, the IssuesPA site lets users compare candidate views now.

"We built it [the site] for the long haul to take us through the election year," explained Steven Wray, project director for IssuesPa. "It's designed to be a one-stop shop in an easy-to-use format. You can learn about the issues in two minutes or 20 minutes and then you can get the candidates' positions in just three clicks."

The site is posted by the Pennsylvania Economic League. The private, nonprofit organization is known as a public policy think tank, not a source for political information.

Wray, deputy director of the league's eastern division, said the group deals with many issues the next governor must address.

"This is a very important election," said Wray, of Newtown Township. "There's no incumbent running and the race is wide open. Considering that each of the last four [elected] governors has served two terms, the likelihood is that whoever wins will serve eight years."

The site, which cost $75,000 to develop, was launched Jan. 31. It has drawn more than 22,000 visitors and 122,000 page views so far, Wray said. "The average stay is four to five minutes and seven page views. That's a long time for a Web site."

The state's diversity and sheer size prompted the league to develop the site, he added. "Pennsylvania is a big state and a Web site is just one way to bridge that gap."

No one knows that better than G. Terry Madonna, director of Millersville University's Center for Politics and Public Affairs. The non-partisan center has polled Pennsylvanians about political races and issues since 1991.

Those results and a series of statewide polls about this year's gubernatorial race - including one conducted last week - can be found on the center's Web site athttp://muweb.millersville.edu/~politics/2002governorsrace.htm

The group's research showed that Rendell should "get a larger percentage of the Democratic votes in Bucks than he will in Philly," Madonna said.

He credited Rendell's campaign edge to registered Republicans who became "60-day" Democrats for the primary. Out of about 66,000 newly registered Democrats in four suburban Philadelphia counties, 17,000 are directly attributable to Rendell's efforts, he said.

"It's a large number, but it doesn't compare to the 35,000 people in 1987 that [Frank] Rizzo's people got to switch when he ran for mayor," Madonna said.

The center's site is aimed at serious political scholars, but Madonna said voters can find a wealth of information on the candidates' own Web sites, in report cards posted by special interest groups and in election story archives posted on newspaper Web sites.

One of those sites is Bucks County Courier Times' at http://www.phillyBurbs.com/couriertimes/news/special/ The newspaper's Voters Guide, which will be published Thursday, also will be posted there. The Courier Times guide provides information about the races that will be on the ballot in Bucks County, from governor to municipal referendums.

Gubernatorial candidates are asked four questions, while contested candidates for lieutenant governor are asked one question each. Biographical information is provided for candidates, along with maps of the state House and Senate districts and a list of polling places.

The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania has posted its Voters Guide at http://www.pa.lwv.org/

The site features biographies of the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor and their responses to a single question about school funding.

An interactive voters guide linked from the site offers a chance for more details, but so far only Casey has responded to its questions.

For those interested in how much money has been raised and spent by the candidates, the Pennsylvania Department of State's campaign finance reporting systems offers an interactive look at its latest filings at http://www.dos.state.pa.us/bcel/camp_fin/campaign.html

The department's bureau of commissions, elections and legislation has statewide registration tallies and information on the state's reapportionment plan.

For the biggest site in the state, Madonna recommended http://www.PoliticsPa.com

The site features links to political stories in newspapers from around the state, a chat room, online polls, even forums on the "best dressed" and "smartest" legislators. But PoliticsPa doesn't claim to be unbiased.

Run by an editor who uses the pseudonym Sy Snyder, the site's purpose is "as a means to inject our views into the political arena. With all due respect to Pennsylvania's print and electronic journalists, there is some interesting inside political news that does not make it in print or on the air. Maybe this Internet site will allow that to happen."

  • Bucks County Courier Times election site: http://www.phillyBurbs.com/couriertimes/news/special/
  • Pennsylvania Public Education Partnership: http://www.philaedfund.org/programs/sasi/index.htm
  • 10,000 Friends, an anti-sprawl group: http://www.10000friends.org/
  • The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League PAC: http://www.naral.org/choice2002/
  • Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN): http://www.pcntv.com/
  • The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh online subject guide: http://www.carnegielibrary.org/subject/government/voter.html

  • Democrat Robert P. Casey Jr.: http://www.caseyforgovernor.com/
  • Democrat Edward G. Rendell: http://www.rendellforgovernor.com/
  • Republican Mike Fisher: http://www.mikefisher.com/index.cfm
  • Green Party candidate Michael Morrill: http://www.michaelmorrill.org/
  • Libertarian Ken Krawchuk: http://www.kenk.org/

David J. Ralis can be reached at 215-269-5051 or .

Monday, May 13, 2002