I just voted against Jim Gerlach in a push poll and believe me (ethical qualms about push-polling aside), it felt almost as good as voting against him for real did the last time. Actually, the friendly recording told me that I could press 2 if I wanted “to not re-elect Jim Gerlach.” From my telephone keypad to God’s ears…



Yesterday’s Houston Chronicle names my family’s home district, Pennsylvania’s sixth, as the nation’s top swing district for the 2006 elections. The article previews the strategy rightly being pushed by Howard Dean and others (with too little support from Congressional Democrats) to nationalize these elections as referenda on the corrupt record of Tom DeLay and his enablers, like our Congressman Jim Gerlach. Gerlach’s response?

Gerlach said the Texan’s ethics controversies would have little impact in the district, saying that most voters here “don’t know who Tom DeLay is.”

Unfortunately for Gerlach, a great and growing number of us know all too well who Tom DeLay is. We know Tom DeLay violated House Ethics Rules by taking a vacation in Moscow paid for by a front group for Russian government lobbyists and claiming it was funded by a non-profit in DC. We know Tom DeLay broke the same law on a trip to South Korea paid for by lobbyists for that government. We know Tom DeLay’s PAC is under investigation for illegally funneling cash from big business. And we know that each of Tom DeLay’s scandals stems from his close working relationship with embattled lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whose theft of millions of dollars from Native American tribes John McCain called “simply and sadly a tale of betrayal.” We also know that Jim Gerlach, who claims to be an independent representative of the people of Pennsylvania’s sixth district, voted repeatedly to weaken ethics rules on Tom DeLay’s behalf and donated $2,000 to his Legal Defense Fund. Jim Gerlach sides with Tom DeLay on nine out of ten votes, supporting destructive and irresponsible fiscal, social, and foreign policy that hurts our district. Jim Gerlach’s problem is that his constituents know Tom DeLay, we know Jim Gerlach, and we know that we can do better.

A year and a half ago, congressional representation of my home neighborhood in Pennsylvania (Bala Cynwyd), right outside of Philadelphia, fell from the moderate but comparatively much better Democrat Joe Hoeffel (who looks even better in comparison to having Arlen Specter in the Senate) to Republican Jim Gerlach after the kind of redistricting that made our state the Supreme Court’s test case for gerrymandering. This November, it looks like NARAL PA President Lois Murphy (with the help of my friend the ferocious Lucy Kauffman) has a good shot at taking the seat for a real progressive:

Lois Murphy is challenging freshman Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), a narrow 51 percent to 49 percent winner over Dan Wofford (D) two years ago in a newly created district. Murphy, 41, lives in upper-crust Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County, graduated from Radcliffe and Harvard Law School, and has served as president of NARAL Pro-Choice Pennsylvania for more than 10 years. But that profile may give you the wrong impression about Murphy. She knows her campaign nuts and bolts, and I got the distinct feeling she has that relatively rare ability to connect with people of various backgrounds, She has a natural, down-to-earth quality. In other words, Gerlach, who doesn’t have the reputation of raising cash or running great campaigns, is in big, big trouble. Sure, Murphy is a liberal, and that’s a problem in parts of this district. In addition, since most of the 6th district is in the Philadelphia media market, it will be difficult for the challenger to get the visibility she needs to oust an incumbent. But her fundraising has been good, and Gerlach still has plenty to prove after his 2002 squeaker.