Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hoeffel on Comment Please (July 14)

On Tuesday, July 14th, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel was a guest on Comment Please with host Darryl Berger, on WNPV, AM 1440. Berger talked with Hoeffel about the governor's race and whether Hoeffel intended to jump in, as he has now done. These are rough notes from the show. As always, I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions. The sound file is on the show's website so you may listen for yourself.

DB: On this day when congressman Jim Gerlach made it official we are talking with Joe Hoeffel about his consideration of running for gov.

JH: No formal announcement yet, a long way from making a decision on this. Some folks have asked me to think about it but I am as leery as I am interested. It has its pluses and minuses. I am going to think about it.

DB: You ran against Arlen Specter 6 years ago. You know what it is like to run statewide, raise money, etc.

JH: It will take quite a bit of money. 5, 6 or 7 million dollars to run in the Democratic primary. My experience in 04 was invigorating. It was a thrill to run, not a thrill to lose, but proud of race and glad I did. Not afraid of a statewide race but it does take a tremendous [missed this]

DB: In Pennsylvania the governor's office switches party every 8 years; it is time for a Republican gov?

JH; That has been the history, no question about it. I just don’t think the voters actively thinking that through, might be just tired of party in power. Voters made decisions based on what is happening in their lives in October, Nov.

DB: Fumo sentencing, Mellow rent scandal. Voter irritation with goes on in H’burg, pay raise. Disappointed that Rendell never picked up banner of ethic reform

JH: we need tremendous ethic reform in H’burg. It is a backwater politically and ethically. Candidates have to be prepared to address it. That’s what voters want. Mellow violated rules of senate. Fumo will pay quite a penalty for his actions. Voters frustrated with ethics, I tried to fight for stronger ethics at county level, and all manner of reform when in Congress.

DB: You've been a county commissioner and a congressman in between. You've also been a state representative. You’ve been to H’burg and know how it works

JH: very deep, culture, politicians because laws are inadequate, relationships with lobbyists that are too cozy, need election law, make state law closer to federal, fuller disclosure. Lobbyists need to be more transparent, more restrictions on what political folks can take. From Bob Casey, Sr on a number of governors have imposed ethics codes on their own employees, including Rendell, but needs to be put into the law and cover all the folks. A lot of work to be done in the area of ethical reform

DB: Rendell has not championed reform in a strong way, hard for gov to do if needs to work with legis?

JH: Very challenging, if perceived as lecturing legislature can meet resistance. Rendell has set high ethical standards for his own behavior. Have not pushed legislature to do those things. That has to be a priority next time. At the same time the gov has had a difficult time with the legislature. Put blame for that on Republicans, seem to like to fight with him. Rendell thought he could dominate legislature as he dominated city council in Philly, generated a lot of ill will early on that has hurt him. What I bring to the table is a clear ability to work with the other side, bipartisan coalition with [GOP county commissioner] Jim Matthews, not political allies but work together. Believe as gov could break legislative gridlock, partisanship and obstruction.

DB: talking with Gerlach on running for gov, statement today that he will run is not a surprise. Gerlach said months ago that he needed to make decision early. What about your time table?

JH: it is late. Thinking about running for gov, primary next May, that is coming up quickly, three announced candidates already. But the three candidates, Dan Onorato, Jack Wagner, and Tom Knox, all of whom are good men with real accomplishments, but none are progressive democrats. I am socially liberally and fiscally conservative. Advocating strong role for gov but with adequate safeguards, only raising tax dollars that are really needed to provide good service, have to balance budget have sustainable fiscal approach that the public can support. I have to make a decision by early fall and what I sense and what people are telling me is that there is a spot for a SEPA Dem and progressive Dem. Would people rally around my campaign, if not mine then someone else’s.

DB: We'll stay tuned and wait to hear.

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