Campaign '14
By John Guerriero, Kevin Flowers Erie Times-News staff bloggers
John Guerriero and Kevin Flowers have joined forces for Campaign ’14, a blog about the 2014 races for governor and U.S. House, among others. And you'll read about President Barack Obama, Congress and what's going on in Harrisburg. Check it out and you’ll be a lot more informed before voting in the May 21 primary and the Nov. 5 election.   Read more about this blog.
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Posts tagged ‘Michael Young’
Posted: July 29th, 2014
Gov. Tom Corbett/ETN file photo

Gov. Tom Corbett/ETN file photo

Political analysts Terry Madonna and Michael Young, in their latest “Politically Uncorrected” column, say that  Gov. Tom Corbett is trying something unusual in his re-election campaign.

While Corbett first ran for the governor’s job, they wrote that he took on the culture of Harrisburg – including “exploding budget deficit, bloated bureaucracy and a Democratic Party eight years in office.”

And while running against Harrisburg is “a popular strategy,” they wrote that no incumbent governor seeking a second term has done so until now.

They wrote that running against Harrisburg “might still be Corbett’s best bad choice in a race with few good choices. It’s a strategy born equally of frustration and desperation.”

Here’s the rub. “In running against Harrisburg, Corbett is also running against himself,” they wrote. “In indicting Harrisburg for its failures, he is also indicting himself for his failures. In advocating change, he is risking that voters might change much more than he wants.”

The authors conclude by saying: “Many believe Corbett may go down to defeat in November, but if so, he’s not going quietly.” Corbett, a Republican, faces Democrat Tom Wolf, a businessman and former state revenue secretary, in the Nov. 4 election.

– John Guerriero

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 17th, 2014
Political analyst Terry Madonna/ETN file photo

Political analyst Terry Madonna/ETN file photo

Statewide political analysts Terry Madonna and Michael Young say that the Democratic primary for governor is finally moving into high gear.

“Over the next several weeks, Pennsylvania voters will be treated (if that’s the word) to a veritable barrage of political ads, press releases, debates and other assorted arcana of political campaigns heading for the wire,” they wrote in the “Politically Uncorrected” column. The full column can be read at

The Democrats in the race are Tom Wolf, Allyson Schwartz, Rob McCord and Katie McGinty. The winner of the May 20 primary will face either Gov. Tom Corbett or Robert Guzzardi, though Corbett is favored to win the GOP primary.

Corbett, however, is one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the nation. And Madonna and Young wrote that “few are betting” that Corbett could win a second term.

However, they said with GOP control likely to remain in the state House and Senate, constituents could expect a Washington, D.C.-style gridlock with a Democratic governor and Republican Legislature.

“Pennsylvania’s 2014 gubernatorial election will not end these battles. They will go on. They might even get worse,” they wrote.

“But this neither makes the election irrelevant or unimportant. Things will not change in Pennsylvania or nationally until the electorate decides to change them. The 2014 gubernatorial (election) could be the catalyst that sparks that change — the moment where voters collectively say ‘enough!’”

– John Guerriero


Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: January 29th, 2014

Pennsylvania political analysts Terry Madonna and Michael Young have presented a case for a path to victory  in the 2014 state Democratic gubernatorial primary.

As many as eight Democrats could be on the May 20 ballot, with the winner advancing to face Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.

Their full column, called “Politically Uncorrected,” can be found at

Madonna and Young list five key factors, including campaign cash, political geography, few issues separating the Democratic candidates, the risks of negative advertising, and gender. As many as three women could be on the ballot: Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz,  former state environmental protection Secretary Katie McGinty and Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.

The other Democrats are:  former state Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord, former state environmental protection Secretary John Hanger, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and Pentecostal minister Max Myers.

The analysts said any serious candidate will have to spend at least $5 million and the winner will spend $10 million or more. “Politics these days is many things — but one thing it is not, is cheap,” they wrote.

– John Guerriero


Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: January 2nd, 2014
Kathleen Kane/ETN file photo

Kathleen Kane/ETN file photo

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s meteoric rise in state politics may be the start of something bigger.

State political analysts Terry Madonna and Michael Young, in their latest “Politically Uncorrected” column, say that Kane, in less than one year, has become the state’s “reigning political star.”

Speculation about the Democrat’s political future, they say, range from a late entry into this year’s gubernatorial race to a possible run in 2016 against U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

The analysts cite four reasons for Kane’s early success: Gender appeal, a backlash against Gov. Tom Corbett for his prosecution in the Jerry Sandusky scandal, her performance in office and “charisma in a charisma starved state.”

Read the full column here.

– John Guerriero



Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 18th, 2013
President Barack Obama/AP File Photo

President Barack Obama/AP File Photo

Should U.S. presidents serve one, six-year term instead of a maximum of two four-year terms?

Pennsylvania columnists Terry Madonna and Michael Young make that suggestion as President Barack Obama enters what is becoming a common dynamic for presidents – the second-term blues.

They argue that Obama’s “inexorable erosion of political support is a depressingly old pattern in modern American politics.”

The full column can be found at

Here some of what else they say:

“Four years may not be enough for a successful president, but eight years is too much for most presidents. Is there not a happy compromise–a term long enough to be effective, but short enough to avoid painful death watches like the country now endures waiting for Obama’s term to end?

Such a compromise does exist and it’s the six-year term: a proposal that would amend the U.S. Constitution to provide a single six-year term for the president and vice president.

“The six-year term is a good idea, but it’s not a new idea. It was originally proposed in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and has been advanced intermittently throughout American history,” they wrote.

Madonna is professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, and Young is a former professor of politics and public affairs at Pennsylvania State University and managing partner of Michael Young Strategic Research.

– John Guerriero



Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: October 3rd, 2013

Gov. Tom Corbett’s approval numbers are still down, based on a Republican polling firm’s latest poll.

Gov. Tom Corbett/ File photo

Gov. Tom Corbett/ File photo

PoliticsPA has the story here.

But political analysts Terry Madonna and Michael Young, in their latest “Politically Uncorrected” column spell out why it’s too soon to write off the governor.

Do you think Corbett will rebound before the November 2014 election?

– John Guerriero

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 28th, 2013

Reducing the size of the Pennsylvania Legislature is a popular topic, both in Harrisburg and on the editorial pages.

Three bills in the current session have been introduced to reduce the size of the House, now at 203 members, and the Senate, now at 50, according to state political analysts Terry Madonna and Michael Young.

Political analyst Terry Madonna/ETN file photo

Political analyst Terry Madonna/ETN file photo

But Madonna and Young argue in their latest “Politically Uncorrected” column that reducing the size of the Legislature “will neither save an enormous amount of money nor restore the public’s confidence in government.

“The proposed reform is actually another one of those feel-good reforms we have become too fond of recently. It promises much, would deliver little and takes our mind off the real reforms that should be enacted,” they wrote.

They suggest reforms in staffing, ethics and campaign finance laws, none of which are “the slick, glitzy, ‘feel good’ proposals likely to dominate news coverage or grab headlines.”

The full column can be found here, courtesy of PoliticsPA.

Madonna is professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College and Young is managing partner of Michael Young Strategic Research.

– John Guerriero


Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 23rd, 2013

Statewide political analysts Terry Madonna and Michael Young have a message for anyone who thinks Gov. Tom Corbett will not seek a second term.

Quit expecting Corbett to quit, they write in their latest “Politically Uncorrected” column.

Gov. Tom Corbett/ File photo

Gov. Tom Corbett/ File photo


In the column, they write:
“A failed attempt at Tom Corbett’s legislative agenda, a long and likely hot summer underway, a single question now dominates many Harrisburg political conversations: when will Tom Corbett quit? When will he announce he is not running for a second term, setting the stage for a GOP gubernatorial primary next May to select his successor?

” Why Corbett should quit looms painfully obvious, even to many who support him. Only about one-third of Pennsylvania voters give him a positive job performance — abysmal for an incumbent less than 15 months from Election Day.  Roughly one in four voters thinks he deserves another term.

” Worse perhaps is that his much-vaunted legislative “agenda,” including liquor privatization and pension reform, has gone nowhere, badly damaging his image for effectiveness.  To many, Corbett looks like a one-term governor–so politically damaged that he probably can’t be saved. This ominous sentiment isn’t limited to Pennsylvania.

“A horde of respected, independent national pundits and publications has already weighed in, concluding he is so unpopular he can’t be re-elected. One has named Pennsylvania as the most likely state in the nation to change parties in 2014. Another, the prestigious National Journal, is already speculating in print about his possible Republican successors.

“Corbett could find numerous and compelling reasons to quit. Yet, it’s not going to happen. Corbett is not going to quit, not going to withdraw as a candidate for re-election and, in fact, not even face a major opponent for renomination by the Republican Party.

“Despite all the arguments to the contrary he will run for re-election in 2014, and will be the nominee of his party. Why he won’t quit boils down to a half dozen hard realities about state politics, the Republican Party and Tom Corbett himself. Together, they reveal much about state politics and perhaps more about the current state of GOP politics,” they wrote.

Read the full column here for the reasons.

– John Guerriero

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 5th, 2013

Here’s a piece showing why Gov. Tom Corbett’s agenda didn’t get through the state Legislature.

Gov. Tom Corbett/ETN file photo

Gov. Tom Corbett/ETN file photo

In their latest “Politically Uncorrected” column, entitled “A House Divided,” Pennsylvania political analysts Terry Madonna and Dr. Michael Young address the state lawmakers’ failure to adopt that agenda.

Madonna is professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, and Young is managing partner of Michael Young Strategic Research.

The column follows in its entirety:

Most attention in the bruising battle to adopt the recently enacted Pennsylvania budget focused on whether the state budget passed on time.  It did.

But a story far more important than budget passage itself was largely missed in covering the late night, last- minute theatrics now de rigueur with state budgets. That story poignantly revealed to those watching the deep polarization that now exists within the Pennsylvania legislature.

Nothing illustrates these deep fissures more than the debate over Gov. Tom Corbett’s “big agenda” items: liquor privatization, transportation funding, and the state pension debt.

As widely reported, these three highly touted priorities failed to pass, shocking many observers who expected at least some would pass, since Corbett’s own Republicans hold majority control of both houses of the state Legislature.

Even more shocking perhaps is why they did not pass: clearly Corbett’s priorities failed–not in spite of Republicans controlling the legislature–but rather because Republicans control the legislature.

Let’s be clear. State history teaches that one party control does not guarantee a ready-made consensus for a governor’s agenda. One needs go back no further than the last elected Republican governor to find an example. Gov. Tom Ridge, a popular and effective governor, enjoyed Republican control of the legislature during his entire eight year tenure. Yet he still failed to pass several of his priorities, including school choice and liquor privatization.
Ridge, however, never made school choice or liquor privatization a must win for his administration. Corbett by contrast did make passage of his priorities the central policy focus of his first term. Consequently, the failure to pass these items cannot be interpreted other than a failure for Gov. Corbett.

To be sure it was that. But much more important and much less well understood, it was also a defining moment for the state Legislature.

 The making of the legislative sausage is the quintessential “black box” in state politics. Few get to see how it gets made; fewer perhaps care. But understanding what happened and didn’t during those crucial end of June days probably matter more to state politics than the ultimate fate of Tom Corbett.
What happened can be summed up in a single word: “partisanship”– pervasive, prevalent, pernicious, partisanship–more intense than any in modern times. Partisanship also has polarized not only Republicans from Democrats, but likewise the state house from the state senate, ominously mirroring the same toxic partisanship so virulently widespread in the U.S. Congress.

The historical causes of Pennsylvania’s increasingly polarized politics are multiple, but three major events going back to the last decade are pivotal, notably:

·The legal and political fallout from the infamous legislative pay hike of 2005;

·Then Attorney General Tom Corbett’s bonus-gate prosecutions of lawmakers and legislative staffers;

·The huge GOP 2010 sweep in Pennsylvania, giving Republicans a
political trifecta–the governorship plus large majorities in both houses of the

Party sweeps are not unique in state politics. But the conservatives arriving in Harrisburg as a result of the last three elections represented a very different type of politician than normally seen in Pennsylvania.

Unlike their earlier brethren they are much less practical and far less likely to compromise. They are much more rigidly ideological, eschew compromise as a matter of principle and have a limited view of the role of state government. These new conservatives now form an operational majority in the state house.

House Democrats also have changed. Republicans may have moved further to the right than Democrats to the left. But Democrats, too, have moved far from the center. Having lost much of their once formidable rural base, house Democrats increasingly are confined to urban constituencies. Consequently, they have become much more ideologically oriented, much more liberal and much less likely to compromise.

Conversely, the senate remains less ideological, less rigid and far more likely to bargain on key legislation. The sharp contrast between the two chambers was exposed dramatically during the recent budget battle.  In the senate, three key pieces of budget legislation, the 2013 budget, a Medicaid expansion bill and transportation funding passed with considerable bipartisan support. In the house, by sharp contrast, two separate budget bills plus a liquor privatization bill passed without a single Democratic vote.

The implications of this growing polarization stretch far beyond the 2013 budget battle. Republicans in the house, legatees of Corbett’s 2010 conservative takeover, should have been his champions, insuring that he and his agenda would triumph. But instead, refusing to compromise, adapt or bargain, they have killed what they would create. 
This in turn has further undercut Corbett’s credibility with voters providing Democrats abundant opportunities to charge Republicans with failure to govern and planting the seeds that may regain the governorship for Democrats in 2014 as well as one or both legislative chambers.

One of the oldest axioms in politics is that governing has a price as the party in power gradually wears out its welcome with voters. But the 2013 budget battle reminds us that there is also a price for not governing. State Republicans might soon learn how high that price can be.

– John Guerriero

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 4th, 2013

The news for Gov. Tom Corbett doesn’t seem to get much better.

Gov. Tom Corbett/ETN file photo

Gov. Tom Corbett/ETN file photo

Low approval ratings have some people wondering about his chances for re-election.

He’ll come out with a budget Tuesday that’s sure to draw criticism from some quarters.

And now political analysts Terry Madonna and Michael Young have come out with a column spelling out what they say have been Corbett’s missteps in what they call “a brutal first two years.”

Madonna is a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, while Young is managing partner of Michael  Young Strategic Research.

Read the column here and see what you think.

– John Guerriero


Posted in: Uncategorized