|For some it may seem that the 2006
election season started around July 7 — the day the state General Assembly gave itself an ill-advised pay raise —
but it officially kicked off yesterday, and by the time the day was over more than 2,000 candidates for statewide offices
had filed their nominating petitions in Harrisburg.
Among those submitting petitions with enough signatures to qualify them
for the May 16 primary were nine candidates for local offices.
Seven of those had already made their plans to run known several weeks ago.
There were, however, two familiar names — Karen Rowe and John Liss — who announced their candidacies only yesterday.
Rowe, a business owner from Campbelltown, is running for the Republican
nomination for the 101st House seat held by Mauree Gingrich. Rowe hopes the third time will be the charm: In 2002 and 2004,
Gingrich defeated her for the nomination and went on to win the election.
No Democrats filed for the seat.
Unlike many others, Gingrich, a former Palmyra borough council president,
came through the pay-raise scandal relatively unscathed because she voted against it and did not take unvouchered expenses.
Rowe said she was not certain if Gingrich’s negative vote was one
of principle. She advanced a theory espoused by others, including former 101st District Rep. Ed Krebs, that party leaders,
knowing they had enough votes for passage, gave incumbents who were considered vulnerable in the upcoming elections the go-ahead
to vote against the pay raise.
“I don’t know,” Rowe said. “I can’t say what
was in her heart of hearts. It is up to the voters to decide.”
There had been speculation that Rowe would run under the banner of Pennsylvania
CleanSweep — a grassroots political organization started by Annville businessman Russ Diamond in response to the pay
raise. Its goal is to replace all 253 current members of the General Assembly.
But Rowe takes issue with a policy in the CleanSweep “candidate declaration”
that all of the movement’s candidates must sign, demanding a 10-day “cooling-off” period between introductory
and final passage of legislation to give the public ample time to voice its opinion. She thinks that may be too long and impractical.
“If they had just left it about the pay raise and the Constitution,
it would have been fine,” she said. “But the 10-day cooling-off period makes me hesitate. ... If I make a pledge
to it then I’m held to it. It would put me in a bad situation. My biggest concern is having a constitutional convention...”