Democrat Bridget Malloy Kosierowski Wins Big in Trump Country – Congratulations! March 24, 2019
Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The ”Big Three.” Had Hillary won those states’ electoral votes in 11/2016, this country and the world would have been spared the likes of anti-democratic/racist/xenophobic Donald. Democrats are, therefore, making sure that the mid-Atlantic and upper-Midwest are never taken for granted again. The Democratic National 2020 Political Convention will be held from 7/13-7/16 at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, WI, key swing state turf (See CNN, Verhovek, J., abcnews.go.com, 3/11/2019). And no Democratic presidential nominee will ignore visiting WI, give too little attention to MI, or fail to work very hard both in urban and rural PA. Of course, 3/2019, remains political eons away from the 11/2020 presidential election. However, sometimes local special elections can give us an idea which way the political headwinds are blowing. On 3/12/2019, Democrat Bridget Malloy Kosierowski claimed victory in a special election for PA’s 114th State House of Representatives seat. She clobbered her GOP rival Frank Scavo 62.44%-37.56%, a landslide 24.88% margin (WNEP Web Staff, Lee, P., 3/12/19). This election was held to replace the vacancy left by PA Democratic Representative Sid Michaels Kavulich’s sudden death. Kavulich passed away while in office on 10/16/2018 (pahomepage.com, WBRE-TV, 10/16/28, WNEP).
Kosierowski will be sworn in within the coming weeks (WNEP, Lee, P., 3/12/19). The current 114th PA House district is located in the Keystone State’s northeast region. Kosierowski will be the first woman to represent this Scranton, PA area district in decades (Herndon, A., nytimes.com, 3/15/19). The PA House 114th is located mainly in Lackawanna County. The 114th includes Abington Township, Clarks Summit, Taylor, and Old Forge. Dickson City, Carbondale Township, Moosic, and Jermyn are also in the 114th (aws. redistricting.state.pa.us). This region has suffered because of the coal industry’s decline and has been badly hit by the opioid crisis (nytimes.com, Herndon, A., 3/15/19). The current reconfigured 114th PA House district, put into effect by that state’s Supreme Ct. in 2/2018, is an area that Trump carried in 2016 by almost 8 points, after supporting Obama by 18. The 114th is the type of district outside Scranton that cost Hillary the presidency (See dlcc.org, 3/12/19, Kos Elections, 2/20/18, theintercept.com, Lacy, A., 3/08/19). The bulk of the recently reconfigured 114th is a mix of suburban and rural communities that were ancestrally Democratic. However, this region is not as liberal as Democratic Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. It has a “Reagan” Democrat /blue collar traditional worldview, and remains far removed from D.C. and the richer eastern coastal cities (See nytimes.com, Herndon, A, 3/15/19).
Born and raised in Clarks Summit, Bridget Kosierowski is a lifelong Pennsylvanian. She received her nursing degree from Villanova University in the Philadelphia area. She and her husband have four children. Kosierowski ran for office for very personal reasons. Her work in the health care sector as a registered nurse made her sensitive to the problems facing patients. Kosierowski’s oldest child was diagnosed at age four with childhood leukemia. Fortunately, after grueling treatments at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, her son was cured. However, Kosierowski and her husband Joe had to pay very high health insurance premiums because of her son’s pre-existing cancer condition. Kosierowski and her husband, both small business owners, had to pay out of pocket for health insurance. Kosierowski had to return to working as a nurse so that her son and the rest of her family could get adequate health care. She then realized that too many people in the PA 114th and in the rest of the state find such skyrocketing health premiums impossible to afford. Securing affordable health care was her #1 issue. Kosierowski also campaigned for good jobs at good wages, better education, and for tax incentives for small business owners. She stood for equal pay for men and women clean air and water. She wants to eliminate tax breaks for huge corporations like Walmart and make them pay their fair and full share (Kosierowski, State Representative -114th District, dlcc.com). Kosierowski supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and wants to attack opioid abuse.
Kosierowski’s GOP opponent Frank Scavo III is a perennial candidate for the PA state legislature. His main issue is ending property taxes (nytimes.com, Herndon, 3/15/19). Scavo, a real estate investor, most recently lost a race for the 22nd District in the PA State Senate. Scavo is president of the Old Forge School Board. Scavo supports Demagogue Donald’s border wall. Scavo is known as a very extreme right-wing candidate (dlcc.com, 3/12/19). Over several years, Scavo has repeatedly put anti-Muslim posts on Facebook. In 1/2015, one of Scavo’s Facebook posts, read, “ISLAMICS will use any excuse to kill!!!” In a 2015 post, Scavo wrote, “Climate Change is not as dangerous as a Muslim with an IED.” Scavo described some of his posts as “poking fun at Muslims,” the usual right-wing drivel that bigoted comments are just “jokes.” He argued that calling him a racist was “inaccurate.” He said, “Is Muslim a race? If anything, it’s religious intolerance, not racism.” Wow, so one can be religiously “intolerant” and all is “fine.” Ask the friends and relatives of the victims of the 3/15/2019 New Zealand mosque massacres about whether being victims of “religious intolerance” makes them feel “better.” Several Muslim organizations called on Scavo to resign from his position as school board president. The Old Forge School Board voted him out of office, but Scavo stated he would not resign. Scavo then denied being “religiously intolerant” because he has “Muslim, Sikh, and Wiccan friends, and some other crazy, crazy things (theintercept.com, Lacy, A. 3/08/19).”
In other Facebook posts put up in 2018, Scavo called Stormy Daniels, “America’s slut.” Scavo shared the “GoFundMe page supporting Trump’s wall and stated that he had donated $80. In another post from 8/2018, Scavo boasted that he had started the #BUILD THE WALL CHANT” at a Trump PA rally and added, “Ya, that’s what I do…lead.” He signed a petition to help bring back InfoWars after sicko conspiracy nut Alex Jones and his show were removed form Facebook, Google, Apple, and Spotify for violating standards prohibiting hate speech. In a 4/03/2018 post, Scavo stated, “illegals caravan to settle in Scranton School district, Collapse eminent.” Scavo shared a post that stated that Mexican drug lord El Chapo testified at his trial that he had paid millions of dollars to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hillary, and Democratic Cong. Adam Schiff.” El Chapo never testified at his trial. In 9/2018, Scavo pushed the “Pizzagate” repeatedly debunked conspiracy theory that Democrats were running a trafficking ring out of D.C. (theintercept.com). What a wacko!
At her victory party, Democrat Kosierowski stated that she would continue to do what her beloved predecessor Sid Michaels Kavulich had done for the 114th district and that he was greatly missed (Lee, WNEP, 3/12/19). Scavo, with a group of his supporters, initially sounded conciliatory when he conceded. However, the talk soon turned nasty. Scavo’s wife Caren yelled, “Democrats are rats!” She and others contended that Scavo should have doubled down rather than try to apologize for his Facebook posts. Another Scavo supporter, Laureen Cummings, an Old Forge resident and county commissioner, stated, “Our poor president is getting hammered and the same thing happened to Frank (Scavo), (nytimes.com, Herndon, A., 3/15/19).”
We should not at all be surprised by these remarks. Demagogue Donald’s brand of “grievance” politics is increasingly reshaping and co-opting the Republican Party throughout the country (See Herndon, nytimes.com). GOPers in areas like the PA 114th see the many investigations against Donald as a “witch hunt” and discount Scavo’s anti-Muslim Facebook rants as “fake news.” They see the federal bureaucracy as the scheming “deep state.” The mayor of Old Forge, PA, Robert Legg, is currently embroiled in scandal after posting on Facebook that NY Governor, Andrew Cuomo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, all Democrats, are “treasonous” and “should be shot (nytimes.com, Herndon, 3/15/19).” A strong tinge of xenophobia and racism dominates much GOP “thinking.” Scavo’s own father argued that he was a son of immigrants from Poland, Italy, and Wales but then “assimilation occurred, the way it’s supposed to be.” Translation: the “new immigrants don’t assimilate. Mr. Scavo’s father apparently forgot or doesn’t know that his ancestors faced the very same anti-assimilationist charges from earlier arrived “Americans.” The racist and hateful 1924 National Origins quotas were enacted to stop them from coming here and were only repealed in 1965. Scavo’s father also talked of non-whites outnumbering whites in the coming decades and that America was a product of “Western civilization,” remarks similarly uttered by chief bigot, IA GOP Cong. Steve King (see Herndon, nytimes.com). Robert Bolus, a local businessman, called Trump “a champion for white interests.” He had voted for Obama in 2008 but became “enraged when Obama weighed in on issues of racial bias among law enforcement (Herndon, nytimes.com).” Many Scavo supporters wished that he had emphasized less talk on tax cutting and more on Trump’s wall and immigrant MS-13 gang violence. Others blamed Obama for “stirring up racial strife (Herndon, nytimes.com).” Carol Huddy stated that we may be far away from the border, “but they’re coming here and they’re coming here.” Ms. Huddy initially refused to define who “they” were. However, after about 20 seconds, she whispered to the reporter, “I’ll give you a hint. They have names like Vasquez and Hernandez (Herndon, nytimes.com).”
Yes, Trump’s anti-immigrant and racist bigotry dominates the GOP. However, even before Trump was elected, this xenophobia, race-bating, and conspiracy talk was growing in “Team Red” circles. In 1994, CA GOP Gov. Pete Wilson handily won re-election by arguing that “they (illegal Mexicans) keep on coming.” Californians later repudiated such attitudes, but this mindset spread elsewhere. Trump’s leaving the scene does not mean that racist fear-mongering will depart with him. The only way to defeat such GOP race/immigrant hating is for Democrats to come out in droves in every election. There are more of us than them. If Democrat Kosierowski can win in Trump country emphasizing health care and jobs while her party stands against racial and ethnic hatred, we can move America forward into the 21st Century. Again, congratulations, Bridget Malloy Kosierowski, the real face of America!
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