Republican Scranton mayoral candidate Jim Mulligan is on the campaign trail.
Mulligan better look out for mines and I’m not talking bootleg coal holes in Minooka.
As I write this I’m listening to my colleague Sue Henry interview Mulligan on the air. He’s soft-spoken and professional, a lawyer who says things like “kick the can down the road:” and “tweak” and “rolling out various initiatives during the course of this campaign.”
Sounding acceptably dull yet competent, Mulligan can be viewed as a good old boy with deep political connections during his career as a city solicitor and party insider. Still, as a Republican, he’s the underdog in a Democrat-ridden town where candidates are always ready to fight.
Some are even armed and dangerous.
“We need to be one Scranton,” Mulligan told Sue.
“I want to unite rather than divide the city,” he said.
Three cheers for Mulligan – if he lasts through the campaign. Frankly I’m not sure he has the street-fighting instinct that makes or breaks Scranton politics.
Democrat nominee Bill Courtright is actually a karate “master“ who runs a dojo in rough and tumble West Side where his students flock to his side like he’s Chuck Norris.
“It’s time to see what the people of Scranton want,” Mulligan said this morning when announcing his “listening tour.”
Mulligan calls his strategy “The Mulligan Plan.”
If he up to the fight.
Despite our notoriously short attention span and terrible willingness to accept less than what we deserve, the latest batch of Scranton mayoral candidates have had their share of problems. And, with the financial crisis that stands to send us all over the fiscal edge and into the storm sewers, what remains standing is not something about which to boast.
Liz Randol, who could have come to the rescue with her relative youth, advanced academic degree and hipness was just too hip for her own good.
A transplant from Texas and elsewhere, gun owner Randol said she loaned her handgun to a friend and forgot about the transaction. The friend claimed that he lost her gun – said he couldn’t figure out how – and Randol didn’t even know the weapon was gone until a good citizen found the loaded handgun on a city sidewalk a few blocks from an elementary school and police returned it to her.
Randol’s story got muddled and more questions remained than she provided answers.
So long Liz.
Courtright beat her with his advanced degree in “nunchucks,” or numbchuks, as they’re known in local saloon fighting circles
Enter the West Sider.
Then Courtright blew it when he learned that he owned several years’ worth of rental fees to City Hall for not paying money he owed the fiscally demented city he vowed to serve and turn around financially. Courtright embarrassed himself by trying to spin his irresponsibility as if the unpaid bill wasn’t his fault and that he didn’t even know he owed the money.
That excuse fell flat because Courtright actually voted for the fee when he was a member of Scranton City Council.
The Republican nominee, Gary Lewis, simply got scared when he won and quit in a cold sweat.
Like I said, Scranton’s a tough town.
AIn’t no political party like a Scranton political party ‘cause a Scranton political party don’t think.
Enter the Mulligan.
Republican political bosses anointed and appointed him to run for the city’s top job.
Listening this morning to Sue Henry talk with Mulligan, who actually visited the WILK News radio studio, I wondered if Mulligan would call me this afternoon. When we spoke off the air yesterday, I invited him to talk with us on the air yesterday for about 10 minutes. Mulligan said he had just held a morning press conference, planned to meet with his political consultants, gather with his volunteer campaign workers and go door to door.
What about our 10 minutes, I asked.
Sorry, Mulligan, said, no can do.
A real Scranton candidate, even a street-savvy knuckleball thrower with liquor on his breath, would do 10 minutes standing on his or her head. A real Scranton candidate would have to be dragged off the phone when given the chance to address new voters in a public forum known for political discussion.
As nice as I was yesterday, I was frank with Mulligan and told him he didn’t have to come to the studio and that the press needs to have a politely antagonistic relationship with politicians.
“Our job is to make sure you do your job,” I said.
Mulligan agreed, although I sensed a trace of fear in his voice.
My forum also is known as a political gladiator’s arena where better candidates than Mulligan and Courtright put together have crashed and burned,.
Ifs Mulligan scared?
We shall see.
As a Scranton home owner and voter, I have a couple of serious questions for the new lad.
Let’s see if he’s worthy of the public trust.
Let’s see how he holds up under a little Scranton pressure.