Monday, January 06, 2014

So long Gerlach

Jim Gerlach used to be my endlessly frustrating congress-critter. It was frustrating because I wanted him gone so badly, because our District straddled the blue-red border surrounding Philadelphia--an area that was clearly trending blue, and because he just kept winning reelection. After he took office in 2002 (a seat he only captured because of the Gerrymandering following the 2000 census moved the incumbent Tim Holden's house into another congressional district), Gerlach narrowly beat Lois Murphy in 2004 (51.0-49.0) and even more narrowly in 2006 (50.7-49.3). Then it got even more frustrating. After the democratic party ditched Murphy (understandably, she had lost twice), they stupidly went with worse candidates who did not seem to be able to get their name out. And so, Gerlach win by a comfortable margin in 2008, against Bob Roggio, who barely campaigned. Then in 2010, Gerlach creamed Manan Trivedi, the candidate who seemed all but invisible to me, a politically interested voter in the district.

In 2010, when Mrs. Noz and I were stuck in Kazakhstan and contacting members of Congress for assistance, Gerlach's office ended up being the most sympathetic and more helpful of them all. Which was also frustrating, because I had spent years hoping to ditch Gerlach because of the way he voted. After he did so much for our family, should I just disregard his deplorable voting record and vote for him anyway? Mrs. Noz and I were divided on the issue, with her leaning towards giving Jim her vote and I stuck on the idea that we elect Representatives so that they vote they way we want and so he should not get my vote even if I appreciate what his staff did for us. We didn't have to face that question in the 2010 election because Kazakhstan disenfranchised us that year.

We also avoided the question in 2012. During the post-2010 census redistricting, the powers-that-be protected Gerlach from the growing number of Democrats in the formerly Republican suburbs of Philadelphia, by moving the borders of the 6th District West. The post-redistricting map was so complicated in my area, I was not sure whether I was still in the 6th District, or had been moved to the 2nd or 7th until I showed up to vote in 2012 and saw the name of the incumbent on the ballot. I ended up in Chaka Fattah's District, a safe democratic seat which is mostly comprised of the predominantly black West Philly. Thus, neither I nor Mrs. Noz ever had to definitively decide whether we would hold our nose and vote for Jim Gerlach.

And now Gerlach is finally on his way out. Whoever comes after him will not be my representative but I am hoping that he or she will be less frustrating. I can't wait to find out how the Democrats will screw up this new opportunity! Maybe frustration is just a fact of life in PA-6.