Thursday, August 28, 2008

Democratic state House candidate admits criminal record

As if James Prendergast didn't already have an uphill battle to unseat popular state Rep. Tom Quigley, R-146th District, the Democratic challenger told The Mercury that he was arrested and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault charges during a domestic dispute with his first wife

The incident occurred 11 years ago, but Prendergast decided to be up front about his past for fear that his opponent would use the arrest against him.

Prendergast, who has never held elected office, told reporter Evan Brandt that he wanted to explain the matter on his terms, and not have to respond to a possible attack ad from his opponent in the closing days of the campaign.

When asked to comment about his opponent's unusual strategy, Quigley told Brandt, "I'm a little disappointed that Mr. Prendergast would take a shot at me like that. I've never had to resort to that type of tactic in the past and I have no intention of bringing that issue up in this campaign. If he wants to reveal his past, that's his prerogative."

I don't know Prendergast, but I've gotten to know Tom Quigley fairly well in recent years. Quigley is one of the good guys in Harrisburg.

Since he was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2004, Quigley has earned the respect of his colleagues in the House and is well-liked in his district, where he has a reputation for outstanding constituent response and availability.

Quigley is a fiscal conservative who has been among the leaders in pushing for the elimination of property taxes as well as cuts in the state income tax.

I'm certain Quigley would never have used Prendergast's past legal troubles against his opponent.

Prendergast may have outsmarted himself. It's unlikely anyone would have found out about his arrest. Give him credit for being up front about it, but the revelation may cost him more votes than it brings him.

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