David J. "Chip" Brightbill has been the top Republican in the Pennsylvania Senate since 2000. More importantly, he has been Ed Rendell’s co-conspirator since 2003 in pushing through massive tax hikes, huge increases in state spending, the worst casino gambling legislation in the country and the infamous 2005 legislative pay raise.
Brightbill is running for re-election in the 48th Senatorial District, which includes portions of Berks, Chester, Dauphin and Lancaster counties and all of Lebanon County. It’s a very conservative district. Voters in the 48th District don’t like high taxes, bloated government, gambling and sneaky pay raises politicians vote themselves at 2 a.m. without public debate.
Brightbill is doing his best imitation of a conservative, but most voters in the 48th have figured him out. That’s why he’s getting desperate against a strong primary challenger in Mike Folmer.
In recent newspaper advertisements, Brightbill has taken credit for the following accomplishments:
• Cleaned up 117 toxic waste dumps
• Built a new stretch of Route 222 linking Berks and Lancaster counties
• Brought Cabela’s, the outdoors superstore, to Berks County
• Found a cure for the common cold
• Built the Sovereign Center in downtown Reading
• Negotiated a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian Authority
• Repaved and upgraded Park Road in western Berks County
• Renovated the Children’s Home of Reading
• Provided grants to Berks County libraries
• Rebuilt hurricane-devastated New Orleans
OK, I made up three of the 10 "accomplishments" that Brightbill is taking credit for. I’ll let you decide which three. The other seven are things Brightbill says he helped accomplish during his 23 years in the state Senate.
How dumb are the voters in the 48th District? Somewhere between Paris Hilton and Jethro from "The Beverly Hillbillies," if you’re Chip Brightbill. Why else would a man who has spent two decades in the state Senate stretch and twist the truth to such a degree? It’s like saying you deserve a Super Bowl ring because you were sitting in the stands during the game.
Yes, Brightbill was in Pennsylvania when these things occurred, but to say he’s responsible for these accomplishments is ludicrous.
It’s no wonder that Brightbill has incurred the wrath of most of the state’s conservatives. Club for Growth President Pat Toomey has endorsed Brightbill’s opponent. Just this week, the political action arm of the Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania launched radio ads designed to "expose Liberal Bob & Liberal Chip’s Tax-Hiking Pay-Jacking Big Government Records."
Liberal Chip is Brightbill. Liberal Bob is Senate Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, a political big shot from western Pennsylvania who shot himself in the foot by making one too many deals with Ed Rendell.
"Tax-hiking pay-jacking big government liberal Sens. Bob Jubelirer and Chip Brightbill are ready to spend millions of dollars to mislead voters about their horrendous records on fiscal issues," YCOP political action President Chris Lilik said in a press release announcing the group’s efforts to defeat Brightbill and Jubelirer in the May 16 primary.
"Bob Jubelirer and Chip Brightbill have brought a great deal of shame and embarrassment to the Republican Party by architecting a massive unconstitutional pay raise, shamelessly attacking and bullying conservatives seeking pay raise repeal, and then arrogantly claiming they lead the fight to repeal the pay raise," Lilik said. "Voting for the four largest tax increases in Pennsylvania history, hiking their pensions more than 50 percent, and then ramming through an even bigger budget than even Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell wanted should be glaring red flags for every Republican."
Brightbill is also in hot water over gambling. While he’s been telling the folks back home that he opposes gambling, Brightbill took $21,000 in campaign contributions from donors with gambling ties. He said over the weekend that he’s going to return the money. Did he have a change of heart because his opponent could have a field day with Brightbill’s hypocrisy, or did Brightbill figure it was OK to take money from gambling interests as long as nobody found him out?
Brightbill comes across as a country bumpkin in his speech and mannerisms, but he’s no dummy. He’s a lawyer. He’s parlayed his two decades in Harrisburg into the powerful Senate majority leader post. Nothing is voted on without Brightbill’s consent. Instead of fighting Rendell’s tax-and-spend policies, Brightbill has jumped into bed with Rendell too many times.
Brightbill and Jubelirer are the big fish in the May 16 primary election. If Republican voters in their respective districts toss them out of office, it will go a long way to restoring some semblance of integrity to the Pennsylvania legislature.
E-mail Tony Phyrillas at firstname.lastname@example.org