I was told he had no chance.
I was repeatedly told he could not win. To the point of absurdity, I was reminded that this was a county-wide race, not like the smallish city-wide race that twice previously did him in at the polls.
I was told he could not beat a certified accountant. I was told he could not best the young hotshot of a financial consultant. I was told he could not defeat the former county commissioner. And I was told he could not overtake the attorney with the party’s endorsement in tow.
And even when I talked to the candidate himself, never once did I get the impression that even he thought he would win. Yet, there he was last night, easily the top vote-getter throughout the entire county.
Admittedly, some of those votes were duplicate votes. Still and all, unofficially, damn near 30,000 voters bothered to seek out his name from the list of county controller candidates, as well as from the hellishly long list of Home Rule government study commission hopefuls.
The point is, Walter Griffith Jr. has steadily and tirelessly built himself quite a sizeable following among the simultaneously dispirited and angered electorate. And with him but one race away from nailing down the county controller’s seat, as well as being easily the most well-read of the 11 government study commission participants, put bluntly, Walter Griffith just might be the most dangerous man in Luzerne County.
Dangerous, that is, to the status quo. Dangerous to the good old boy network. Dangerous to the “machine.” Dangerous to those who govern in absentia. Dangerous to those who govern by way of backroom deals. And dangerous to those who govern as if the multitudinous amounts of tax dollars they are frittering away grow on flowered shrubberies on the hills overlooking Sugar Notch.
No, I’m not forgetting that he still faces a supposedly formidable democratic challenger come November, who ran uncontested last night. Yep, yet another hotshot financial consultant stands in his way. Yes, he still has another enormously huge hurdle to overcome. And, yes, I fully expect people much more learned than I to tell me this is the one hurdle he can not leap over.
Still, as evidenced by the sheer number of votes he received last night, it’s become obvious that his laudably tireless efforts as this county’s preeminent taxpayer watchdog have garnered him widespread public support. What the voters confirmed last night is that they not only see him as qualified to reinvent our government, they also see him as qualified to help to manage it much more economically.
And if he does manage to clear that final electoral hurdle, he would then be in the remarkable…the unprecedented position of being able to personally change our dysfunctional and now discredited county government not only from the inside, but from the outside as well.
And if that’s not the most dangerous man in Luzerne County, if that’s not the most dangerous man throughout this county’s entire sordid history, I’d sure love to know who is.
With all of that having been said, if the dreaded political “machine” in this one-party county of ours is to live on and embezzle another day, one way or another, the most dangerous man in Luzerne County will have to be taken out.
So, while Walter was on WILK radio today congratulating his vanquished opponents on collectively having run a clean and respectful campaign, expect anything but a clean and respectful next go-round if the late Summer polling data suggests he has a decent chance at winning come November.
Markie in Nord End