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No dream job for John?

| Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, 9:07 p.m.

Think John Kerry's a virtual lock to be the next U.S. secretary of State?

Not so fast.

Many people believe the Democrat U.S. senator from Massachusetts will succeed Hillary Clinton in that role if PresidentObama wins a second term in November. But even though Kerry, husband of Pittsburgh pickle princess Teresa Heinz, will deliver a key national security speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte on Thursday, Foreign Policy reports that he is not the front-runner for the job.

According to the magazine, Obama's first choice is Susan Rice, America's United Nations ambassador. She was Obama's senior policy adviser during his 2008 presidential campaign and served on his transition team after he won the election.

Given that Kerry has lobbied for the secretary of State job for several years, not getting it would be almost as bitter a defeat for him as his loss in the 2004 presidential election.

SMITH SAYS SMITH A SHOO-IN. A poll commissioned by state Rep. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, indicates that Smith has a commanding lead over his Republican opponent, one-named Mt. Lebanon businessman Raja, in the state Senate race to replace the recently retired John Pippy.

We're stunned, shocked, even flabbergasted. Who would have expected that Smith's poll would show Smith with a lead of 54 percent to 38 percent over Raja?

The Raja campaign immediately disputed those numbers. And in a truly unbelievable, unforeseeable turn of events, it disclosed that its own internal polls show Raja with the lead over Smith.

Somebody please tell us that pollsters would never pander to the people who pay them. Or would they?

HANDS-ON APPROACH.Rick Santorum's peculiar and multiple references to hands during his speech at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday did not go unnoticed by America.

By our count, the former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania made more than 20 references to those body parts during his address. He talked about shaking hands. He talked about worn and weathered hands. He talked about … well, you get the idea.

His seeming obsession sparked considerable reaction on Twitter. Among our favorites:

• Washington Post writer Ezra Klein “I wonder if someone gave Santorum a hand with this speech.”

FakeBen Bernanke — “Rick Santorum likes hands like I like printing money and Al Gore likes lock boxes.”

• Writer Nathan Pensky — “‘I shook the hand of the American dream and it has a strong grip.' — Rick Santorum wrapping his man-hands around a metaphor's windpipe.”

• Comedian Paula Poundstone — “I'll bet Rick Santorum went through a lot of hand sanitizer.”

BACK IN GOOD GRACES. Jill Cooper, Westmoreland County GOP chairwoman, shocked some party faithful recently by tabbing former state Sen. Bob Regola for a party financial committee post.

Regola, a Hempfield Republican, garnered the ire of some Westmoreland Republicans last year after he was photographed aiding Gerald Lucia, Mt. Pleasant mayor and fire chief — who happens to be a Democrat — in his campaign for a county commissioner nomination against eventual Republican victor Tyler Courtney.

Regola is also buddies with Republican Chuck Anderson, county commissioners chairman.

EARLY, STRONG SUPPORT. Westmoreland County's next row-office election is more than a year away, in 2013, but local pols nevertheless were impressed with the turnout at a recent fundraiser for Clerk of Courts Bryan Kline.

More than 100 supporters attended Kline's $100-per-head fundraiser at the Water Works bar and pub in Greensburg.

Among the host committee for the Republican incumbent's fundraiser were county commissioners Anderson and Courtney and Sheriff Jon Held.

Other VIPs on hand were state Sen. Kim Ward, state Reps. Mike Reese and Eli Evankovich, Hempfield Supervisors Doug Weimer and Jerry Fagert, Southwest Greensburg Councilwoman Linda Iezzi and U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy.

— compiled by Tribune-Review staff

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