Political dynasties: 3 men run for Pa. legislative seats, currently held by their fathers

Pat Loeb
November 02, 2018 - 9:49 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Elected offices that open up when someone retires are often the most competitive races, but in Pennsylvania voters in three districts, including one in the Philadelphia suburbs, could easily be confused. That's because the incumbents' sons are running to replace them, and two of them have the same name as their fathers.

Mike Hanna, of Clinton County, is retiring from the state house and running to replace him is, yes, Mike Hanna.

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf is stepping down after 40 years of representing parts of Bucks and Montgomery County. He is not to be confused with candidate Stewart Greenleaf, running to replace him. 

In Allegheny County, it's a little easier to tell Brendan Markosek from his father, retiring State Rep. Joe Markosek.

Political dynasties have long been a feature of Pennsylvania politics. Senator Bob Casey is the son of a former governor by the same name. And in Philadelphia, it's been quite common. Three former mayors-- Frank Rizzo, Bill Green and Wilson Goode-- had sons by the same name get elected to city council.

Analyst Terry Madonna sees no problem.

"I don't get too excited about the so-called dynasties, and I don't think most voters do," he said. "The real question -- are the children or the relatives in the dynasty qualified? Will they do a good job? Will they represent their folks?"

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Stewart Greenleaf, Jr. says he's running on his own record.

"I was elected as Montgomery County's controller. I've been active in this community for many, many years. People know me," he said.

Greenleaf's opponent Maria Collett, though, wonders if that's clear to voters. She points to campaign materials that she thinks create confusion with references to his "proven record" and "trusted for years."

"I have talked to quite a few people who are confused about that," she said. "I'd never say he doesn't have the right to run or shouldn't be running. I just think he owes it to voters to be more transparent about who he is."

Madonna says it's the voters' duty to be sure they know who they're voting for.

"Yes, [the candidates> have an advantage but they still have to perform," Madonna adds. "They still have to make the case to the public and it's up to the public to pay attention."