Gerlach narrowly won re-election in 2004 against Democrat Lois Murphy. Many pundits are predicting another tight race in this year's Gerlach-Murphy rematch. Not me. I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict that Gerlach will win by double his margin of victory from 2004.
Murphy is the beneficiary of tons of money from every left-wing political group under the sun, but I have a gut feeling about this race. Murphy's negative campaigning, the only type of campaign she knows how to run, has grown tiresome.
Murphy spent the entire 2004 campaign bashing Gerlach and blaming him for everything that went wrong in the country the previous two years. The voters of the 6th District, which stretches from the liberal Philadelphia suburbs to more conservative western Montgomery, northern Chester and southern Berks counties, are wise to Murphy.
There was a terrific letter to the editor published in The Mercury a couple of weeks ago from a reader who bemoaned Murphy's latest attempt to demonize Gerlach. "I suppose voters in the 6th District should expect as much from a candidate whose only viable position is that she hates Rep. Jim Gerlach," wrote Jillian Nebenfuhr of Phoenixville.
Gerlach has been an excellent legislator. He's intelligent, energetic, responsive to his constituents and genuinely enjoys his job. Gerlach spends a lot of time in his district — not just when running for re-election, which is about the only time you see some members of Congress.
Murphy is old news. She's a tax-and-spend liberal who rode John Kerry's coattails in 2004 to come close to defeating Gerlach, but there won't be a presidential race this year. The 2006 ballot will feature embattled Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, running on a "vote for me and I’ll raise your taxes" platform, and Bob Casey Jr., a 6-foot-tall sleeping pill attempting to unseat Sen. Rick Santorum.
A lot of Democrats will be staying home this November.
Murphy is the darling of feminists and the radical left. A visit to her Web site shows support of every radical liberal organization in the country. She makes Hillary Clinton look like a moderate.
Murphy has no platform other than "I oppose everything Jim Gerlach supports." And another favorite line from the Murphy camp is that "Jim Gerlach is George W. Bush." Unfortunately for Murphy, that line simply isn’t true. Gerlach has shown an independent streak that has frustrated some of the more conservative voters in his district, but if they had to pick between Gerlach and Murphy, Gerlach wins hands down.
Murphy has been trying to portray herself as a reformer who wants to go to Washington to "clean up Congress." But she lacks credibility because she's a lawyer and lobbyist — exactly the wrong person to send to Washington.
Murphy also comes across as a puppet for Pennsylvania's liberal governor, who has presided over four years of massive tax increases and skyrocketing state spending. If you live in the 6th District and you're worried about the federal deficit, do you really want to send a free-spending liberal to Washington?
If you don't want to pay more taxes, why vote for a candidate who thinks government exists to tax people and redistribute wealth? That's the Ed Rendell philosophy of government. That's the Lois Murphy model, too.
Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. E-mail him at email@example.com