Picking the presidential pooch
By Tribune-Review staff
Of all the jobs President-elect Barack Obama has to fill in the next several months, perhaps none will be as closely monitored as this one.
Who will be the presidential pooch?
During his historic address to the nation after being elected president Tuesday, Obama publicly promised his two daughters a dog when they move to the White House. But he didn't specify what type of dog the girls would be getting.
An American Kennel Club poll on which canine breed the Obamas should select drew more than 42,000 responses. The majority recommended a poodle, which doesn't shed and thus would be tolerable to Obama's daughter Malia, who suffers from asthma.
"We hope the Obamas consider the survey results, " kennel club spokeswoman Lisa Peterson said.
"The poodle doesn't always get the respect it deserves, but it is truly an ideal family pet. While they require frequent grooming, their consistent and predictable coat is crucial for (Malia) and all who suffer from allergies."
Frankly, we're a bit disappointed that Obama found time last week to name a chief of staff -- U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois -- but not get his kids their pooch.
Which position do you think more Americans are interested in?
WILL STEPHEN REPLACE MARY BETH• Could Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. be moving his office a few blocks down Grant Street?
That speculation began almost immediately after Barack Obama defeated John McCain on Tuesday in the presidential election.
Obama's victory means that Mary Beth Buchanan , the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania under outgoing President George W. Bush, will be replaced next year.
Zappala, the district attorney since 1998 and son of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen A. Zappala Sr. , is considered in some Grant Street circles to be the front-runner for the job.
JACK ATTACK. Anyone notice that state Auditor General Jack Wagner received the most votes of any candidate running for elected office last week?
The Beechview Democrat and former Pittsburgh city council president amassed 3.26 million votes in defeating Republican challenger Chet Beiler.
How impressive is that• A fella named Barack Obama received only 3.19 million votes in the Keystone State, and most people would agree the president-elect fared pretty well here.
MIXED SIGNALS. Talk about taking a strong editorial stand.
The folks over at the Post-Gazette endorsed Obama for president, which certainly was their right. But imagine how confused their readers must have been when they went to their porch to pick up their copy of the P-G the day before Election Day.
Papers were delivered in plastic bags displaying an ad from the National Rifle Association that read "Defend Freedom... Defeat Obama," which undeniably contradicted the paper's own recommendation.
The ad also ran in other newspapers, such as the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky, but was rejected by newspapers such as the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk.
HERDING THE FLOCK . Practically from the moment the polls closed Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy , R- Upper St. Clair, held a commanding lead over Democratic challenger Steve O'Donnell of Monroeville.
Yet Murphy, who ultimately won by a comfortable 64 percent to 36 percent margin, delayed addressing his supporters at the Radisson Hotel in Green Tree until most of them had left.
Murphy campaign staffers, in fact, were forced to shepherd the several dozen people scattered around the conference room closer to the stage so the congressman would appear to be addressing a legitimate crowd before the TV cameras.
"Forty-five minutes ago, we could have had a full room," one staffer was overheard grousing. "Now all we have is the illusion of a full room."
A LITTLE OUT OF PLACE . Given U.S. Rep. John Murtha's margin of victory, we're not saying his opponent's mistake made a huge difference in the election's outcome.
But Republican William Russell, who lost to the veteran Johnstown Democrat on Tuesday, probably didn't win many votes with an embarrassing pre-election boo boo.
On Monday, Russell scheduled a final campaign rally in New Stanton.
While we certainly have nothing against that fine Westmoreland County town, that wasn't the place for Russell to wrap up his bid to unseat Murtha.
New Stanton is in the 18th Congressional District. Murtha and Russell were vying for the 12th Congressional District seat.
It's an understandable mistake for the average citizen to make, we suppose, but an unforgivable one if you're seeking to represent the 12th District. According to unofficial returns, Murtha won re-election easily, 57 percent to 43 percent.
MENDING FENCES? Westmoreland County Commissioners Tom Balya and Tom Ceraso almost immediately after the election removed the many negative postings on their respective Internet sites about the third commissioner, Kim Ward, after she claimed the 39th District state Senate seat Tuesday.
Political observers chuckled that the two Toms, both Democrats, apparently figured out by early Wednesday morning that come January the county will now have to have the support of soon-to-be-senator Ward, a Republican, to access many state grants.
Good luck with that guys.
BENCHMARK. Include another attorney in the ever-growing list of lawyers who will seek one of two open judgeships next year: Greensburg attorney and Republican party solicitor Harry Smail Jr .
Among the names also continuing to circulate are Sheriff Chris Scherer ; attorney Michelle Bononi , who has lost two previous bids for a county judgeship; Meagan Bilik DeFazio, Annaliese P. Masser, William McCabe, Tim McCormick, Brian Aston and assistant district attorney Mike Pacek.