Editorial: Pick one or the other

Now that the end of a pain­fully long pro­cess of modi­fy­ing the dis­trict bound­ar­ies of your friendly neigh­bor­hood state rep­res­ent­at­ive and state sen­at­or is on the ho­ri­zon, all is well in state gov­ern­ment, right?
Guess again.
The next battle for Pennsylvania voters should be a cam­paign to force mem­bers of the state le­gis­lature to pass a law that would com­pel House and Sen­ate mem­bers to resign be­fore run­ning for oth­er of­fices.
That re­quire­ment ap­plies to most elec­ted of­fi­cials in Phil­adelphia gov­ern­ment — where there is spec­u­la­tion that May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter might step down to take a post in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion if Pres­id­ent Barack Obama de­fies the odds and gets re-elec­ted in Novem­ber — and it’s a good rule. It forces politi­cians to fo­cus on the jobs to which they were elec­ted. They get dis­trac­ted when they flirt with oth­er of­fices, and that is counter to the best in­terests of their con­stitu­ents.
Re­call that in the April 24 elec­tion, voters in the Far North­east’s 169th Le­gis­lat­ive Dis­trict had double duty. They had to vote twice for the same of­fice: Once for a spe­cial elec­tion to fill the re­mainder of pop­u­lar Rep. Den­nis O’Bri­en’s two-year term, and in the reg­u­lar primary to pick can­did­ates for the two-year term that be­gins in Janu­ary.
There would’ve been no need for a spe­cial elec­tion had Rep. O’Bri­en, know­ing that he would run for City Coun­cil in 2011 — a job to which he had long as­pired — not run for re-elec­tion in 2010. Had he known he would have had to resign from his House seat to run for an­oth­er of­fice (Coun­cil), he might well have done the right thing and not sought an­oth­er House term only to aban­don it halfway through
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