2018… What Will Be.

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Predictions for the New Year:

  • The Dodgers will beat the Red Sox in the World Series.
  • Democrats will win the U.S. House back, provided they are not pushed too far by their base. Their majority will not be huge, but they will win a similar number of seats to their 2006 victories.
  • North Korea will attempt to mess with the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, causing international outcry. The games will ultimately happen though.
  • The Patriots will win the Super Bowl, beating New Orleans. No one outside of New England will like it.
  • The British Parliament will be forced into early elections that will end Theresa May’s Prime Minister term, giving power to Jeremy Corbyn, who will stop Brexit, leading to political turmoil and chaos for years to come.
  • The Warriors will defeat the Cavaliers for the NBA title. Neither team will face a competitive playoff series.
  • The Senate Democrats will net two seats and take a 51-49 majority in the chamber, putting an end to President Trump’s push to pack the courts.
  • Chaos in Venezuela will become a much larger story.
  • Vladimir Putin will win a sham election with over 60% of the vote.
  • Lindsey Vonn will strike Gold in Pyeongchang.
  • There will be a Presidential funeral in 2018. Donald Trump will make a circus of himself.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu will be indicted.
  • The U.S. stock market will slow.
  • Young protesters in Iran will be one of the biggest stories of 2018.
  • Robert Mueller will issue more indictments, some hitting the White House directly, but he will not issue his final report during 2018.
  • Donald Trump will not be impeached, nor will he resign in 2018. He also won’t be indicted. The only chance that he will resign is if he does so after the elections, facing a Democratic Congress.
  • The Nashville Predators will win the Stanley Cup, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • Joe Biden will announce a Presidential run for 2020 in December.
  • Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, and Nevada will elect Democratic Governors to replace their Republican ones.
  • The U.S. Deficit will rise faster than expected.
  • The situation in Syria will actually begin to improve, because the U.S. will allow Assad to stay in power.
  • Taylor Swift will win a Grammy. So will the Foo Fighters.
  • The JFK files will be released, and while we won’t find a smoking gun in them, there will be something really weird that drives conspiracy theories.
  • Omarosa’s tell-all will compete with Barack Obama’s memoir for best selling political book of 2018.
  • The Phillies will finish second in the NL East. Carson Wentz will miss nearly half of 2018 while healing, but will return to lead the Eagles to the playoffs. The Sixers will make the playoffs. The Flyers will, well, keep playing.
  • You’ll hear a lot more of the name Tom Steyer. He’ll run for President, announcing this year.

I’m out of predictions. The time is your’s.

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The Highlights of 2017

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My most important moments of 2017, in my life, in no particular order:

  1. I made it to a personal record 42 MLB and MiLB baseball games in 2017. I went to games in Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, both New York Stadiums, and Washington along the way.
  2. My sister graduated from Temple University with a degree in communications, and then entered Temple Law.
  3. We lost a couple of family members this year. My great-uncle Charlie, and my mom’s cousin Janet both died this year. Both will be missed.
  4. I officiated my first wedding for my friends Dana and Mike Graziano. I’m not going to lie, I love public speaking, but was very nervous for that.
  5. My twitter account blew up this year. I gained over 8,500 followers in 2017. I need to thank Sally Albright for helping me get my message out, and Bernie-twitter for attacking me and giving me a larger platform. The more people are seeing my stuff, the more strength the message has. Thanks folks!
  6. My friends Bob and Andrea got married at Lafayette College during the Summer. My friends Frank and Jess celebrated their wedding in DC the day before Easter. I was thrilled to attend both.
  7. All of my candidates I worked for this year won. I managed Phillips Armstrong to a victory in Lehigh County for Executive, worked Northeast Pennsylvania for Ellen Ceisler’s victorious run for Commonwealth Court in both the primary and general elections, advised on Lamont McClure’s winning campaign for Northampton County Executive, worked GOTV for Jeanne McNeill’s successful special election campaign for a PA State House Seat, and did some work for successful county council candidates in Northampton County and judicial candidates.
  8. I went to the Sixers home opener against the Celtics. It didn’t go as hoped, but it was the first step on the road to being an NBA powerhouse.
  9. I got to attend Barack Obama’s farewell address in Chicago. I love any excuse to go to Chicago, but that night was extraordinary. No sooner than the speech ended though, the sadness of what was ahead set in.
  10. The family did a vacation trip, dogs and all, to visit my uncle in Creedmoor, NC. I love it down there, you don’t need to give me an excuse to stop in. My cousin Griffin turned 21, but his brother Ben broke his collarbone.
  11. My sister and cousins Evan and Brad did a mini-vacation in DC. We hit the sites and the Smithsonians. The highlight to me was the Capitol Tour though, and the huge gathering of friends we had in DuPont. The lowlight was a psychotic woman yelling at the manager next to us at Ben’s Chili Bowl.
  12. The Eagles won the NFC East. Something good happened in Philly sports.
  13. My fraternity, Omicron Gamma Omega (OGO) celebrated our 95th anniversary in the spring. I’m proud of my affiliation and the people I’ve had the privilege to meet from that.
  14. I saw my Lehigh Valley Ironpigs (Phillies AAA) win a playoff game. It was their only win, but I saw it.
  15. I attended my friend and client Maureen Madden’s swearing-in to the Pennsylvania House on January 4th. We have a beautiful capitol, and I’m proud of her work.

That’s that. I’m sure I missed lots of stuff, but this jumped out. On to 2018!

Trollmageddon 2018

Russia infiltrated our electoral process, and that’s just a fact. We can question if they hacked voting machines, we can debate the meaning of collusion, but that’s not changing the things we know they did do. They did purchase Facebook ads designed to hurt Hillary Clinton, in both the primaries and the general election. They did hack the DNC’s emails. Kremlin allies did meet with people around the Trump campaign. They did set up fake news sites, publishing false articles about impending indictments for Hillary and her family. They did set up phony writers in American left-wing outlets to push Democrats against Hillary and the party. All of this is real. All of this is fact. You can interpret it as you wish, but not deny it.

It’s over now though. There is no way to re-litigate 2016 and make Hillary the winner. Donald Trump is now in the White House, and I have great faith that Bob Mueller’s investigation will figure out who committed what crimes. Will we ever know if the Russians literally hacked our election? Maybe not. I trust Mueller’s investigation will answer the possible.

This leaves us to ponder what lies ahead. The 2018 mid-terms are coming, and they promise to be insane. The primaries in both parties could be bloody. Democrats will see a fight between people committed to Civil Rights, worker protections, the environment, and moving the country forward, and people who literally want to have a Socialist revolution that they haven’t thought through the details of yet. Republicans will see a war between people who want to cut taxes for the rich and slash the social safety-net of working Americans, literally taking the food from mouths, health insurance from those who need, and roofs from over heads, and actual Nazi/White Nationalist types being lead by Steve Bannon. We get to have these fights before we have the general election argument over the insanity of Trump America. Excited yet?

Does anybody think this will be any cleaner or nicer than 2016 was? Does anybody think those accounts with cartoons and dogs as their avatars that followed Nomiki Konst into attack on Hillary supporting Democrats aren’t coming back for more during these primaries? Does anyone think that openly racist Russian troll accounts, like the “Tennessee GOP” one that Twitter took down, aren’t coming back? Does anyone think Russia won’t attack Democrats in the Fall, knowing that a Democratic Congress will insure a completed investigation of their acts of war against our country? Let’s be honest, even real people like Katie Halper (who I wish wasn’t real) will be spewing leftist hatred towards any Democrat who dares to not bow at the altar of Bernie moving forward. If anything, 2016 will look nice, next to 2018. We are heading towards an absolute internet doomsday, as these freakish alt-right and alt-left voices attempt to destroy anyone who dares stand in the way of their goals. Outside interference, doxxing, and general nasty behavior will be the norm.

Some of these characters are obviously automated, and not real people. Some of these people are paid trolls, grifters that are here to waste your time and sap your enthusiasm. All of this is an attack on our democracy. It’s only going to get worse as we go. I have a few tips for dealing with these people, and trying to keep your sanity in the process:

  1. Block liberally- If someone is trying to waste your time with repetitive debate, or trying to tell you how you’re evil for supporting a $12 minimum wage instead of $15, or just sending you screenshots of yourself, block them. I usually make a snarky remark back at them first, just so the person on the other end feels like a loser, but the main point is to block them and not waste very much time on people who are losers.
  2. Report liberally- If someone who fits the profile mentioned above, and they say something abusive or curse at you, report them. If they send graphic sexual images at you, report them. Obviously block them too, but report them in hopes of knocking them off of Twitter, real or fake.
  3. Know a troll or dead-ender when you see one- If you get into a debate/fight with some famous leftist- like say Matt Bruenig or his wife- and a bunch of people swarm you, they are either bots or paid trolls. If a bunch of people with roses in their bio swarm you, they are either loser trolls or paid trolls, if not outright bots. If they have a small follower count and are part of the swarm, they’re either a troll or bot. If someone starts spewing racist or sexist content, they could be a paid troll from the other side, or even the “dirtbag left.” Most of the people attacking Neera Tanden are just trolls and wackos, ignore them. Anyone with poor grammar who jumps in just to attack Democrats (on the behalf of Trump or Bernie) is a Russian troll. They often use the same lines of attack (“so-and-so won’t f**k you” for instance), and try to use bios and profile pictures as lines of attack quite often. They’re not hard to figure out. If you see them, report them and block them. It’ll save you time.
  4. There are real hardliners- I’ve had my fair share of Twitter battles, even some with people whom I “agree” with on the issues. There is a fairly prominent resistance tweeter from Brooklyn for instance, who attempted to “dox” me (and failed miserably because she’s an imbecile) because she didn’t like my arguments against a full litmus test on abortion rights in the Democratic Party. This young lady isn’t worth my time any more than Katie Halper and Matt Bruenig were from Socialist land. There are some serious psychos out there in our political world, and not all of them are paid Russian bots. I suggest not wasting too much time arguing with overly impassioned real people either. You’re never going to make any progress with them.

This is my best advice for surviving what is likely to be a crazy year. It is my hope that Twitter will clean this up and start enforcing their terms of service in a reasonable way, but I’m not holding my breath. The best way to handle the lunatic fringers and their virulent attacks is largely to ignore them, to report them as much as possible, and to realize they represent a small fringe of society. Most Bernie Sanders supporters are nothing like Winnie Wong, and even many Trump supporters aren’t like Cassandra Fairbanks (though this point pushes the limits of truth sometimes). Almost nobody in real life is like a Russian bot or a DSA troll. Limit your interactions with them, and you deny them the lifeblood of their existence- your time and attention.

Donald Trump, Vanity Fair, and Our Broken Media

The New York Times got themselves quite a scoop- our vacationer-in-chief President gave them his one interview from Mar-a-Lago. The reporter doing the interview made a decision- to not really press Donald Trump, and instead to mostly let him talk. It was a smart decision from the standpoint that it got Trump to essentially babble and ramble, and not go back into his shell. It was a terrible decision for a reporter though- follow-up questions and clarifications on things that a reporter knows to be false are part of their job, not just an option to consider. Basically Trump was given an open microphone to spew what he wanted, and while he made some mistakes, the bigger danger is in letting his words reach the public without a challenge.

In essence, this is part of why we have Trump- our media allowed him to be an option. His rallies were shown in full, rarely were his lies challenged on their way to the American public. While Hillary Clinton was pressed for details on her plans, and forced to defend herself on trumped up scandal after scandal, Donald Trump never gave us details on his plans, from building his wall to taxes, to health care, and so on. The press is so afraid of both losing access, and being viewed as unfair, even if those they’re being “unfair” to are lying and lost. They did not press him for details enough during the election, or now, and they did not challenge his lying enough, then or now. Their job is to challenge those who lie or have weak ideas. They didn’t. In fact, they didn’t with several candidates in 2016.

The Trump interview showed us that, at least as 2017 ends, this is still a problem. The behavior of writers from the New York Times, especially Maggie Haberman, shows that we shouldn’t expect change any time soon.

I could go on all day, but I won’t. Maggie Haberman spent the whole day circling the wagons to defend her paper, her colleagues, and her view of journalism. She literally trolled and sub-tweeted people over the criticisms. This is one of the top reporters at the New York Times, not some random nobody. This is also a reporter who has a reputation for being fairly rough on Hillary Clinton, the woman Trump beat for the White House, despite losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

Speaking of people who are pretty tough on Hillary Clinton, Vanity Fair is having quite a tough week. They published a list of “New Year’s Resolutions” for Hillary Clinton that included getting new hobbies, “like knitting.” They also told her to keep wandering the woods, not run for President ever again, and basically to just go away. They got hammered on the internet for it, and were forced to apologize. The video was purely sexist, and that was plain to see, even if you don’t like Hillary Clinton. Those who made it should be reprimanded or fired by Vanity Fair, to save their credibility. Bad journalistic work, like bad work in any other professional field, should have consequences. I guess not everyone though…

Yeah, that’s what this is about- not liking the opinion. It’s not about the sexism and ageism that is thinly, if at all, veiled in the Vanity Fair product. It’s not about the insult to an accomplished and successful woman, it’s about how it makes us *feel* to Elizabeth. But wait, there’s more:

This is just… WOW! According to Elizabeth Bruenig, if someone is bad at their job, they shouldn’t face consequences. Of course, she doesn’t afford Hillary Clinton nearly as much leniency, bringing up her “low approval ratings” in her defense of her colleagues. I guess Hillary should pay for her sins, but the writers of VFHive should not. Much like Maggie Haberman, she is running to the aid of her colleagues to defend them- circling the wagons.

Could there be a reason why Mrs. Bruenig is doing this? Well, her husband Matt Bruenig was fired from his blogging job at Demos for calling Neera Tanden a “scumbag” for one thing. He had a track record of this kind of behavior, and his “side-employer” canned him for it finally. He then created a “go fund me” page and asked people to finance his health care- which is funny for a guy who’s a lawyer, and who’s wife writes for the Washington Post. To say the Elizabeth Bruenig has a bias that should have prevented her from writing this piece is the least of it. It seems to me that she actually agrees with this behavior that has been directed at Hillary Clinton, Neera Tanden, and many, many other people on the internet. Or, at least she agrees with it when it’s people who espouse her socialist views, directing it at members of the Democratic Party.

Why does the Washington Post employ someone so compromised? Why does Vanity Fair think sexism is okay against politicians they don’t like? Why does the New York Times think it’s above reproach? Listen, I love the media, and generally agree with a lot of the things the people I’ve mentioned here write. I don’t know what I’d do in my business of choice without them. This isn’t about killing all journalism. It’s about fixing it.

The media has had several great failings in the 21st Century, with the Iraq War and 2016 Election standing out, but one could also include the run-up to the 2008 Market Crash. In each of their cases, they failed to pressure the main actors nearly enough, and ultimately the public didn’t even see the negative outcome coming. The words of Elizabeth and Maggie suggest that accountability is still something they’d rather avoid. The problem is that journalism is a really, really important field. The only way to have an “informed” public is for them to read the whole story. That might mean sacrificing some objectivity between “both sides,” or making a subject uncomfortable, or even losing some “access” that the powerful grant them.

The most revealing thing in Donald Trump’s New York Times interview this week was his statements saying the media needs him to win again. He probably believes that, and to be honest, I’m not sure he’s wrong, from the media’s perspective. His nonsensical babbling will continue to be treated as coherent and of some value, he won’t be pushed for the details on his vague policy and harmful statements, and his lies will be debated, as though they are not objectively lies. Why? Because it gets reads. When some of us challenge their unfair treatment of Hillary Clinton and other, actually competent politicians, they will circle the wagons around their colleagues and defend their poor performance. They will not look themselves in the mirror, and accept accountability. At least not the voices at the top echelon of the media. This is one part of why we’re in this mess. This is one really important thing that we have to push back on in 2018.

The Annual Family Christmas in New York Trip…

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I’m in New York right now. It’s really, really cold. There’s no place in the world I love more than New York City, but Manhattan on a cold day isn’t really much fun. What makes it worse is that I like the outside New York things, not the museums or Broadway shows. I’m not a big interested in the Christmas Tree or any of that either. We’ll see how this trip goes.

We were locked into this trip when my parents made reservations at Becco’s in Manhattan for tonight, over a week ago. The food there is very good (as is true at maybe thousands of places in Manhattan), and will make the trip worth it, but yeah, I wish we had a little more freedom on the date. We do this trip as a family every year, i’m not totally sure why, but it usually turns out to be fun.

New York City is the greatest city in the world. It’s the cultural and financial capitol of the United States, if not the world. It has the greatest skyline in the United States, if not the world. It’s my favorite place to take pictures. It has iconic parks, ballparks, arenas, observatories on skyscrapers, food, and other landmarks. I love the subway. Terminal 5 is probably my favorite concert venue, but my Dad used to play CBGB’s. I’m not a huge fan of “touristing” New York, but i’m a huge, huge fan of just going and hanging out in coffee shops and bars there. Even so, any day in New York City becomes a good day just  by being there, and a great day by eating there. If I get down to Washington Square, call it a win. If I get to St. Patrick’s, consider it a religious experience. If I get to Strawberry Fields, call me content.

So yeah, I’m cold right now. Really, really stupid cold. Don’t cry for me though- unless I’m in a museum or a show right now. Then realize right now that I’d rather be sitting in a bar or coffee shop.

Places I Want to Go, 2018 Edition

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To some, it seems like I’ve been everywhere. In reality, I haven’t been to a lot of basic places that one should get to as a young adult. Yesterday, I was talking with an old friend of mine, and she told me how she was going to be in London for work, temporarily in 2018. I was very intrigued by the thought of being in London during Royal Wedding season, and just a bit jealous.

I go to New York and Philadelphia more than most other people would care to. I’m in DC quite a bit. I go to the beach a lot. I’ve lived in Iowa, twice. I get to the Carolinas every year. It seems like i’m on the road a lot, but really i’m just visiting Harrisburg, PA a lot (hey, I love you guys too). So, here is my new bucket list of places I want to see, just in time for a new year.

  1. Hong Kong, China- Perhaps the only skyline in the world that I have seen in pictures that rivaled (or possibly surpassed) New York’s is Hong Kong’s. With it’s long colonial history mixing with it’s Chinese present, it seems like the kind of cool spot that I want to see.
  2. Los Angeles, California- I want to climb to the top of the Hollywood sign. I want to go see a ballgame at Dodgers Stadium. I want to hit the nearby beaches. I know all the horror stories, I realize it might fall short of my hopes, but I want to go to Red Hot Chili Peppers land.
  3. Rome, Italy- Yes, I’ve heard the bad stories here too, but the history though. Rome was once the capitol of the civilized world. I want to go see the ruins, visit the Vatican, and eat the food. Mostly, eat the food.
  4. Austin, Texas- Virtually everyone who goes to Austin loves it. I want to go check it out. The mix of urban liberal/state capitol/major college town seems like a recipe for all kinds of fun bad behavior. Sounds great to me.
  5. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic- I’ve got a number of Dominican friends, and all I hear about is how I need to visit the Dominican Republic. I don’t want to limit myself to just Santo Domingo, but I suppose that’s a great place to start.
  6. Jerusalem, Israel- This is not happening right now, in no small part because our President has made it less appealing to go there, and also because of the current Likud Government in Israel. With that said, Jerusalem is a high holy city for three religions of the world, which fascinates me. I would like to go see the sites and experience this city.
  7. Athens, Greece- Democracy really took hold in Ancient Greece, and Athens was among the greatest early spots for it. Obviously the ancient ruins are worth the trip, as is the relative cheapness of it right now.
  8. San Francisco, California- I’ve never been to California, let alone the Bay, but I’d like to. San Francisco is probably too liberal for me, but why not go try it? Also, I want to catch a Giants game (and maybe an A’s game if I can).
  9. Nashville, Tennessee- As a music fan, I feel like this is a trip I need to make. Am I a die-hard country fan? No. I’m certainly an Elvis fan though, and the amount of music history made in Nashville is well worth the trip.
  10. Moscow, Russia- Like Jerusalem, I’m not risking my life to make this trip right now, but it’s on the lifetime list. I’d like to visit the Kremlin before I die. I’d also like to drink some vodka with the locals there. Oh, and catch a hockey game in the KHL.
  11. Tehran, Iran- There’s no way that I’ll be seeing Tehran, Iran in the near term. I want to see Tehran though. Persian culture is among the oldest and most advanced in the world. Tehran is the capitol, and what I have been able to see of it online is spectacular. I want to see it, and get a deeper appreciation for the people there.
  12. Las Vegas, Nevada- I’ve never been to Vegas. I feel like I have to see Vegas. It’s not crazy expensive to fly out there and get a room. I really want to be out there for a major fight night sometime.
  13. Berlin, Germany- I have quite a bit of German blood in me, and Berlin holds a strong historical significance in our world. I want to see the wall and see the history of that city. Hopefully I can do this soon.
  14. Udol, Slovakia- Where? Exactly. Udol is my ancestral village in Eastern Slovakia, the home my great-grandparents left to come here. I still have distant relatives there. I want to go see it.
  15. Seattle, Washington- You might as well add Tacoma and Vancouver, BC in with this. I want to see Safeco Field. I want to do the fish market. I want to check out the music scene that helped birth 90’s grunge. There’s just so much to see here.
  16. Tokyo, Japan- Yes, I love sushi, so bring it on. I love baseball too, so let’s see that. Tokyo has the bright lights, and that attracts me.
  17. Istanbul, Turkey- I don’t think this is a trip I’ll make very soon, given the political situation there, but Istanbul has a reputation as a beautiful city. As a Byzantine Catholic, I also want to see the “Constantinople” history of the city.
  18. Cancun, Mexico- Look at those beaches. Yes, those beaches. I want to see those.
  19. San Diego, California- My grandfather, Richard Wilkins Sr., called this the most beautiful place the U.S. Navy took him. As the third Richard Wilkins, I feel like it’s only right for me to see if that’s the case.
  20. New Orleans, Louisiana- I’ve never been to Mardi Gras. I’ve never been to New Orleans. I love Cajun food. I must go to New Orleans.
  21. Paris, France- I feel like this is obligatory, right? It’s also one of the oldest, greatest capitols in Europe. I should go see it.
  22. Glasgow, Scotland- I hear it’s a fun, fun town. I need to see it while i’m still young enough to enjoy the late-night life.
  23. Montreal, Canada- I’m cheating a little bit including this, because I went there when I was like four, but I don’t remember it. It’s not stupid far, they speak French, it’s foreign-ish, and I hear great reviews. I need to see it.
  24. Yellowstone National Park- I’ve always wanted to see the glaciers. And the bears. It’s a national treasure, so why not both?
  25. Havana, Cuba- This won’t happen until Trump is out of office, because he’s blocked travel again, but I want to go to Havana. Legally. Not on an “educational tour” either. 2021?

Lehigh County, You’re in Good Hands

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Yesterday I had a lot to say about the direction in Northampton County, but I don’t want to neglect our friends to the west. On Tuesday, my friend Phil Armstrong will be sworn in as the new County Executive in Lehigh County. For full disclosure, yes I managed Phil’s campaign, and it is one of the most satisfying wins I’ve been a part of- the candidate was one worth being proud of, and the campaign was pretty much textbook. We got the 24,000 plus votes we felt we needed, stuck to a very straight forward message to get there, and sold a record of competency to the people. It worked.

Phil Armstrong is steady. That is the best word I can use for a local public official, period. He was the President of the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners, and built a reputation for being reasonable, competent, and sane. His campaign message matched that. He talked about his record of not raising taxes in Whitehall. He talked about protecting and improving Cedarbrook, the county’s nursing home. He talked about protecting open space. He talked about economic development that brings good paying jobs, improving the county’s infrastructure, and taking a regional view of the Lehigh Valley’s future. He talked about things that were straight forward, and the public both understood and could agree with. It wasn’t pie-in-the-sky, and frankly that’s what the voters of Lehigh County like. This was the fourth consecutive Democratic victory for County Executive, and like Don Cunningham and Tom Muller before him, Armstrong sold himself as the quiet, competent, honest, and fair candidate in the race, not the crazy partisan that wants to govern ideologically. Lehigh County’s off-year electorate is considerably more Republican than it’s federal-year one, but they appreciate someone who wants to govern competently. Phil hit that mark well.

The next several months could be politically wild in Lehigh County. The legal situation surrounding Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski will come to a head with his trial. There will be a Congressional Primary on both sides for the departing Charlie Dent’s seat, if not a special election. There are likely to be several state legislative races, and probably some party leadership battles in the Spring. All of this could be quite disconcerting for Lehigh County voters to watch. While this is going on, they will have a steady, calm, competent, new County Executive leading a government that will spend roughly $400 million this coming year (over a million dollars a day) on essential services that protect everyone from the most vulnerable in our society to the most powerful within the business community. Amidst the chaos, that should make them feel good.

Democrats in Lehigh County would be wise to put aside any of their differences and rally around their new leader. Armstrong won a campaign that was surprisingly strong to a lot of insiders. He received more votes than Tom Muller did in 2013, against an arguably more difficult, and certainly more qualified opponent than the Democrats defeated four years ago. He obviously carried the liberal bastions in Allentown and Bethlehem, but also ran very strong numbers in his home of Whitehall, in his opponent’s home in South Whitehall, in traditional swing areas within the East Penn School District, and even in municipalities that Democrats traditionally lose. He ran on a generally positive message about what he would do as Executive, and the voters really seemed to like it. He starts out working with the Republican Commissioners without some of the history that had made negotiation very difficult.

The truth is that the Lehigh County Government has run pretty steady and well, ever since the days of 70% tax increases ended back in 2005. Phillips Armstrong does not represent a crazy change from Tom Muller, and that is probably good. Democrats have found the winning formula in Lehigh County, and now just have to be smart enough to ride that wave forward. While we’ve seen parties mess that up in the past, the truth is that this is a good time to not disrupt a good thing.