By Tim Logue, Delaware County Daily Times
Democrat Chuck Hadley continued to take swings at state Rep. Bill Adolph Tuesday for not answering his written request to participate in a candidates debate in the 165th Legislative District.
Only this time the jabs were delivered from the parking lot of Adolph’s district office on Sproul Road.
“All I can figure is that my letter got lost in the mail so I’m here today to deliver it in person,” Hadley said while holding up an envelope he later handed to an Adolph staffer.
During a five-minute speech before a couple dozen supporters, the Radnor Democrat chastised Adolph for being out of step with district voters, in the pocket of natural gas drillers, and the “most trusted ally” of Gov. Tom Corbett.
Adolph’s campaign spokesman, Pete Peterson, said neither he nor the representative knew of Hadley’s debate request before Tuesday and called his visit to Adolph’s office a media stunt. “This is Hadley engaging in political theater and he did it outside an office that would not be engaging in campaign issues,” Peterson said. “Again, this is the first I or Bill have seen of this debate request. At this point, we are looking at Bill’s schedule to check his availability so we can reach out to Hadley’s campaign about a potential date for a debate.”
In a Sept. 26 letter addressed to Adolph, Hadley wrote, “(W)e owe the voters a chance to hear at length from both of us about the crucial distinctions between our very different approaches to state government in Harrisburg.”
On Tuesday, Hadley touched on the debate issue at the beginning and end of his prepared remarks. In between, he accused Adolph, a Springfield Republican who has represented the 165th District for 25 years, of campaigning as a moderate while voting with the most conservative members of his party.
“We need to hold him accountable — not for what he says on the campaign trail, but for what he actually does in Harrisburg,” said Hadley, a retired venture capitalist who replaced Adolph’s 2012 opponent, Jeremy Fearn, on the ticket in late August. “In Springfield he takes photos with school children. In Harrisburg, he slashed the education budget and proposes cuts even deeper than those proposed by Gov. Corbett.”
Peterson dismissed the characterizations as wildly inaccurate.
“Bill has always been an independent voice since he got into the Legislature and he continues to be an independent voice,” Peterson said. “Whether there’s been a Democrat or Republican governor, Bill has always represented his constituents first and he will keep doing that no matter who wins the gubernatorial elections.”
On education, Peterson said the line item for public schools in the state budget has never been higher.
“It was the federal government that cut funding for public education,” he said, referring to the tide of stimulus dollars that rolled in and out of Pennsylvania during Ed Rendell’s second term.
Hadley also took aim at Adolph’s claim that he supports a severance tax on natural gas.
“He says he is a leader in the fight for a severance tax on the gas drillers,” Hadley said. “In Harrisburg, he has taken at least $60,000 from the drillers and votes against that tax every single time.”
Peterson questioned the accuracy of the $60,000 figure and said Adolph has supported a 5 percent severance tax since 2010. He said Adolph’s only vote on the subject came that same year, when he voted against a 10 percent tax.
“His support (for a 5 percent tax) has never changed,” Peterson said. “Bill is one vote and he would support it if it came to the floor for a vote.”
Peterson said attempts by Hadley and every Democratic candidate in the state to link their opponent to Corbett are demeaning to the electorate.
“They are making the same claims in every race regardless of what the actual candidate believes on the issues,” he said. “On the other side, they are not saying what they support or what they stand for. Bill may agree with (Corbett) on some issues, like keeping taxes low and he may disagree on other issues.
“The strategy Democrats are using assumes voters aren’t intelligent enough to understand that different (candidates) have different opinions on the issues and that not every candidate fits into a cookie cutter mold.”