An article Tuesday incorrectly described the role of the American Legion in the Pennsylvania Senate primary campaign. Individual members of the American Legion, not the organization itself, supported Auditor General Don Bailey in his campaign.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary race has been billed as "Rambo and the Preacher," while the Democratic gubernatorial primary has been dubbed "The Utilities Lawyer vs. the Ticket Fixer."
Rep. Bob Edgar, the "Preacher" in the Senate primary and unabashed liberal, contended that his contest with Auditor General Don Bailey, a decorated Vietnam war hero who describes himself as a moderate, is for "the heart and soul" of the Democratic Party.
Former Philadelphia district attorney Edward G. Rendell, in his struggle with former auditor general Robert P. Casey for the gubernatorial nomination, argued that "Pennsylvania is at the crossroads" because of its economic woes, and needs dynamic new leadership.
The state Democratic Party also is at a crossroads as primary voters today select their ticket for the general elections in November. Although many voters were undecided, the Bailey-Edgar race appeared to be dead even, and Rendell, while trailing Casey, may have moved within striking distance.
Despite the Democrats' registration edge of about 800,000 in an electorate of about 6 million, in the past quarter of a century, Democrats have managed, through what one observer described as "a combination of hard work and bad luck," to elect only one U.S. senator (Joseph S. Clark, 1963-69) and one governor (Milton Shapp, 1967-75).
This year, Sen. Arlen Specter, a Republican, is vulnerable, and the governor's office is open because popular Republican Richard L. Thornburgh is prohibited by law from running for a third term. Neither Specter nor Lt. Gov. William W. Scranton III, the GOP gubernatorial candidate, has serious primary opposition.
While Edgar appears right in saying Pennsylvania Democrats have a clear-cut choice in the direction they want their party to take, the polls indicate many voters haven't decided.
In the latest poll, taken by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Philadelphia Daily News, Edgar and Bailey are tied at 32 percent each with 32 percent undecided. George Elder, a backer of Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., and Slippery Rock State University professor Cyril Sagan account for the rest.
In the gubernatorial race, Casey leads Rendell by 42 percent to 36 percent with 19 percent undecided. LaRouche candidate Steven Douglas has 3 percent.
Among most of those likely to vote, Edgar leads Bailey by 37 percent to 34 percent with 25 percent undecided, and Casey leads Rendell by 46 percent to 37 percent with 15 percent undecided.
The Senate primary race is a classic Pennsylvania matchup of east versus west -- Edgar (Philadelphia-area) and Bailey (from Greensburg, 30 miles from Pittsburgh). Geography gave Bailey an initial edge because the 13-county area around Pittsburgh normally accounts for about a third of the vote in a Democratic primary, and voters there start out with an unloving inclination to vote against anyone from the City of Brotherly Love.
But Edgar, 42, a Methodist minister, has demonstrated an uncanny ability to compile one of the most liberal voting records in the House and still win six terms in a conservative, heavily Republican, Philadelphia suburban district. This is partly because his reputation as a morally driven maverick inspires trust even from those who disagree with him.
Edgar, endorsed by the state AFL-CIO and several major unions, has raised about $1.5 million from 17,000 contributors, compared to less than $500,000 (plus a $250,000 loan) by Bailey.
A former social activist, Edgar opposed the Vietnam war while Bailey, a lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division, won the Silver Star, three Bronze Stars and the Air Medal as an infantry platoon leader. Edgar entered politics because of his disgust with President Richard M. Nixon on Vietnam and Watergate, and went to the House as a member of the class of 1974.
"It's a choice between the new way and the old way," Edgar said. "He [Bailey] has focused on patronage and this is not the time for backroom political deals. It's a time for creating new jobs to give our young people opportunity and keep them in the state, and for being right on substantive issues."
Edgar charges that Bailey is running his campaign out of the auditor general's office -- Bailey's campaign manager, finance director and press secretary are full-time employes there -- and that much of Bailey's campaign contributions have been squeezed out of intimidated employes (there are more than 900). One of his television spots, known as the "Dorian Gray" ad, shows Bailey evolving into a balding, jowly, cigar-smoking political boss.
Bailey, 40, denies the allegation and last week ran his response, the "Pinocchio" ad, featuring a line drawing of the famous puppet with his nose lengthening with each of Edgar's claims and the announcer intoning, "And he knew that wasn't true."
"They [the campaign officials] work for me on their own time, evenings and weekends," Bailey says. "Most of our employes are protected by the union, which would be all over me if I tried anything like that, and we've got a Republican attorney general who would be too."
His statewide organization is a conglomeration of friendly county and city ward organizations, the state Democratic party, which endorsed him, the American Legion, the National Rifle Association and antiabortion organizations. "Your Kind of Democrat" is his slogan.
"We're much more mainstream than Edgar is," Bailey says. "He's way out in left field. The voters just don't know how far out."
Casey, 54, is making his fourth run for governor after losing the Democratic primaries in 1966 and 1970 to Shapp and in 1978 to former Pittsburgh mayor Pete Flaherty. He has focused on 96 parking tickets that were issued to Philadelphia city autos used by Rendell and his staff when Rendell was district attorney. Rendell countered that most were issued while the cars were on city business.
Casey, a veteran of more than 20 years in politics, has the endorsements of the state party and the state AFL-CIO. The centerpiece of his campaign is a 76-page plan to rejuvenate the state's economy, primarily under a development commission made up of business, labor and government leaders.
Rendell has campaigned for tougher utility regulation and has accused Casey of being a "utility lawyer" because of Casey's association with a Philadelphia law firm that represents some utilities. Casey says he's never represented a utility in his life.