Scott Conklin: The Best of Both Worlds?

As citizens across Pennsylvania flock to the polls today to vote for their candidate of choice, residents of the state’s 77th district are faced with a difficult decision that their counterparts don’t have to make: vote for Scott Conklin as representative for the state House, as lieutenant governor, or both?

Conklin’s decision to run in two positions at the same time is not unprecedented: Senator Joe Lieberman ran for both the US Senate and the seat of US Vice President in 2000, but lost the VP bid and remained a senator; Senator Biden did the same in 2008, but won the US VP bid and resigned his Senate seat. Despite the legality of the situation, Conklin’s candidacy has raised concerns in some voters, as if he wins both elections, someone for whom the voters did not vote would be taking the other seat. The bill for the special election that would need to be held in order to fill this seat would also need to be footed by the taxpayers.

While visiting campus last week, Conklin’s running mate, Dan Onorato, said he didn’t have a problem with Conklin running for two positions at once, so long as Conklin made it clear which office he would choose should he win both bids.

“He’s doing what presidents have done, what senators have done. Vice President Biden did it. Former President Lyndon Johnson did it,” said Onorato.

“It’s our system. It is what it is. If we have a constitutional amendment that would change it, that would be fine with me too, but that’s not the rules right now,” he said.

Thor Wasbotten, assistant dean for student media and online operations, declined to comment on his party affiliation as a former news director but said the issue is “a funny situation.”

“Ethically, you have to think to yourself, “Is this person better as a representative for the local district or a better representative for the state?” Wasbotten said.

“I’ve heard a few people on TV the other night saying they thought it should not be allowed whatsoever. But the chances are, the voter who is going to be voting for him as representative might probably be voting for him as lieutenant governor as well,” he said.

“Do I have an issue with what Scott Conklin is doing? I hope that I’m smart enough to see the difference. If you don’t like Scott, vote for Joyce. If you’re upset with Scott and you think his politics are driving this, then you have to make your decision. I just hope that you’re knowledgeable enough to make the decision for the right reason, and that is who is best served to be your representative in that district,” said Wasbotten.

“If you think that [person is] Scott and you know you risk losing him, if he becomes lieutenant governor, then the hope is when they have a special election after that, then whomever would replace Scott Conklin, you might like that person just as much, if not more.”

What about you? What do you think are the ethics involved with running for two positions at once? Should it be legal? And if not, why not?

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About the Author

Becky Perlow

Becky is a feature writer for Onward State. Currently on her victory lap (read: fifth-year senior), she studies both journalism and hotel/restaurant management at Penn State. She hails from Charm City, Maryland, and as a rabid Ravens fan, she isn't afraid to insult the Steelers QB ("No means no!"). She also loves to travel -- she's been to 26 countries and counting!

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