Tom McGarrigle is a different kind of Republican. Just ask Gov. Tom Corbett.
McGarrigle, the Republican chairman of County Council who is running in the increasingly heated battle for the 26th District state Senate seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Ted Erickson against Democrat John Kane, makes no bones about his differences with the governor. And no apologies.McGarrigle wants a 4 percent tax on gas drillers in the state's Marcellus Shale region, with all the money going to education. That puts him at odds with the guy at the top of the GOP ticket.Don't look for McGarrigle and Corbett to appear together anytime soon.And don't look for McGarrigle and Kane to go mano a mano in a debate either.That's the other thing that separates McGarrigle from the norm here in Delco, long ruled for the most part by the Republican Party. From very early in the campaign, McGarrigle has been pushing Kane for a debate.The first overture was rejected by Kane because McGarrigle suggested it be hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, which already has indicated they are backing the Republican.Then someone suggested me as the moderator. I agreed, so long as the two sides agreed and set the grounds rules. I suggested the two appear on our 'Live From the Newsroom' show. I had hoped to do this last night, but Kane indicated he had a scheduling conflict.McGarrigle offered to show up alone and talk about the issues. I declined, in part because I'm not sure it would have been fair to offer a completely one-sided debate.
But I also understand the frustration McGarrigle feels. My guess is he probably feels the way so many Democrats in the county have felt for years. They always asked their Republican foes for a debate, usually having that request fall on deaf ears. Instead the two sides would usually wind up on stage together for a League of Women Voters meet the candidates night.The temperature in the 26th state Senate race has been building to a boiling point. A nearly non-stop barrage of TV ads from both sides is making this perhaps the most expensive state Senate race in history.McGarrigle has been labeled a tax cheat and a "millionaire."Kane has been ripped for taking money from another labor union that faces some serious issues, as well as his healthy salary as the business manager for Plumbers Union Local 690. Kane insists the $270,000 figure the GOP ad cites is misleading, that some of that salary is retirement fund dollars he borrowed to put his kids through school.Yesterday the thermometer inched even higher when a woman who claims to be Kane's daughter
from a previous relationship took issue with his commercials portraying himself as a family man.I'm still hoping to see McGarrigle and Kane together talking about the issues. I'll let you know when it happens. I'm not holding my breath.