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Republicans and Tom Wolf's Democrat opponents are dumb as bricks

| Saturday, May 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Any Pennsylvania Democrat would have to be dumb as a brick to take the Republicans' advice on which Democrat to nominate for the fall governor's race.

But that has not stopped the Republicans from spending millions to convince Democrats to keep Tom Wolf off the general election ballot. It is not an unheard of tactic for either party. But rarely has this ploy been so transparent or the fear of a particular opponent so palpable.

Surely, when Republicans face brutal fights between party regulars and insurgent tea party candidates, Democrats have been known to pray for a tea party victory. But it is still unusual for one party to declare all-out war against a primary candidate from the other party.

There was a slick, four-page mailer — paid for by the Republican Party of Pennsylvania — that compared Wolf to an actual wolf. The handsome animal's countenance overshadowed the candidate's, however, leading some to wonder if it was a Save the Wolves solicitation.

There were radio and television ads, too, all geared to keep Democrats from voting for Wolf.

In one television ad, paid for by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's campaign committee, Wolf was portrayed as a Jeep, a visual reference to the old Jeep he has driven for years.

And Corbett was portrayed as a huge, gas-guzzling, jacked up Dodge Ram truck, roaring about in a way that would surely intimidate other drivers. The governor's handlers did him no favors.

As for deriding Wolf's beat-up Jeep, they forgot that Jeeps just like Wolf's have served as humble friends to millions of Pennsylvanians over the years. Everybody has a Jeep story, some passed on by grandfathers who served in World War II, and these American classics are cherished.

Another Republican mailer tried to tie Wolf to some dubious cuts to Medicare as a result of the Affordable Care Act. But Republican opposition to Medicare has been notorious, starting before it became law under LBJ.

Republicans are not alone in their fear of Wolf.

Two of Wolf's fellow Democrats went after him hammer and tong, providing a road map and great film clips for the Republicans. If Rob McCord and Allyson Schwartz lose the primary to Wolf, they will likely have starring roles in Republican ads in the fall.

But their political futures, in light of their attacks on their party's nominee, will be addressed in time, by the family of Democrats.

Life would be wonderful if we all could choose our opponents, no matter the endeavor. A heavyweight boxer would fight only lightweights, our pay raises would be awarded by our mothers and success would come from manipulation instead of merit.

Life does not work that way and neither should a two-party political system.

Joseph Sabino Mistick, a lawyer, law professor and political analyst, lives in Squirrel Hill (joemistick.com).

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