The terms “loss,” “defeat,” “route,” or “ouster” to describe the loss of in Tuesday’s municipal election of by District Attorney Michael T. Madeira could only be understatement. “Repudiation” be might the correct term.
The scope of Mr. Madeira’s defeat stunned not only me, but most observers, including District Attorney-elect Stacy Parks Miller, and the chairman of the Centre County Democratic Party.
To put this into perspective, November 3, 2009 was not a bad day for the Republican Party. The approval numbers leader of the Democratic Party, President Barack Obama, had been trailing in some polls.1 Republicans replaced Democrats as governor in the states of New Jersey and Virginia. In Centre County, of the seven “up ballot” candidates for judicial position, six of the Republicans carried Centre County (this was repeated statewide, from initial reports). Just “down ballot” from the District Attorney’s position, the Republican jury commissioner candidate came in first2. It was a reasonably good year to be a Republican in the United States, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and in Centre County. 2
It was not a good year to be Mr. Madeira. Mr. Madeira not only lost the vote, but lost most of the staunchly Republican areas. This was not an example of the latte drinking, arugula munching, pinko liberal elitists Democrats, (feel free to insert your own wildly inaccurate stereotypes) in State College all ganging up on him. Mr. Madeira lost a sizable portion of those good ole boy redneck, pickup truck driving, Copenhagen chewing, gun and Bible toting, right wing conservative Republicans, (I’m bipartisan in my wildly inaccurate stereotyping) in Gregg Township, and Port Matilda. All told, out of 89 voting districts (precincts) in Centre County, Mr. Madeira won 4, or slightly less than 5%.
The one region where Mr. Madeira showed “strength” was the Bald Eagle Valley, where three of four precincts he won are located. It is a strongly Republican region, that, running from county line to county line to county line, he still managed to lose, though not as badly. Of special attention in this area is Huston Township. Every Republican candidate, down to the Inspector of Election won the Township, expect for Mr. Madeira. He lives in Huston Township.
By any measure, the election was a repudiation of Mr. Madeira. There were two factors in that repudiation.
First, the Madeira campaign many mistakes, capped by the ACORN letter; this is claimed not to be directly linked to the campaign, but the origin is murky at best. Perhaps the main one was the “disingenuous” comment directed at Ms. Parks Miller. It was a virtual repeat of his comment directed against fellow Republican District Attorney Robert W. Buehner, Jr. in the midst of the dueling press conferences last year.3 Ironically, I had done a blog entry on it about a month prior to the second time he used it. Inaccurate both times, it became a term of mockery of Mr. Madeira on the part of some posting comments of articles.
The main factor, however, was Mr. Madeira’s abysmal record as District Attorney. Part of that was his handling, or lack of handling, of the investigation into the disappearance of Ray Gricar. With this comment, I think I have mentioned the Rodgers’ case and the Marshall situation three times in this blog, but those were major issues, both relating to the manner that Mr. Madeira conducted the office. The Gricar investigation was at best the third issue, but less than the other two. It was still an issue.
I generally know the posters on the Gricar case, but I’ve happy to see new people commenting on, even if listing the investigation as part of a string of Mr. Madeira’s failures. I’ve been happy to see Ms. Parks Miller address the issue the day after she was elected; I believe she was sincere. I expect that there might be a few new chapters on the investigation.
After the primary, I wrote:
Mr. Madeira may have hope that the Gricar case would just somehow go away. It may, but it may not. The way things are going, Mr. Madeira’s future as an elected official may just somehow go away before the Gricar case does. Well, at least in his case, we will know what happened to it.4
Mr. Madeira’s political career has gone away and we know why. We can only hope that there will be a resolution to the disappearance of Ray Gricar.
2 The Centre County election results are here: http://tiny.cc/BeZY9
3 CDT 10/14/09 http://tiny.cc/IVEw0