A Voice for Choice
Meet the Pennsylvania Democrat willing to take on teachers’ unions


Three Philadelphia businessmen captured the attention of Pennsylvania’s political class last year when they pumped more than $5 million into the campaign of state senator Anthony H. Williams, a black Democrat seeking his party’s nomination for governor. John P. Martin, a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, spoke of the money’s “potential to catapult Williams past other contenders.” One of his sources, G. Terry Madonna of Franklin and Marshall College, warned darkly of the ethical implications: “Here’s the point: Money buys . . . access and influence.”

The cash didn’t purchase Williams a victory. He came in third in the Democratic primary, well behind Dan Onorato, who went on to lose to Republican Tom Corbett in November. But the contributions may have served an unexpected purpose: By giving Williams an opportunity to promote his signature issue of school choice, they created the preconditions for the passage of one of the most ambitious pieces of conservative legislation any state will consider this year. Pennsylvania could approve what its secretary of education, Ronald Tomalis, calls “the most expansive school-choice law in the nation, involving more kids across a greater geographic area than anywhere else in the country.”

June 6, 2011    |     Volume LXIII, No. 10

Books, Arts & Manners
  • Roger Kimball reviews The Neoconservative Persuasion: Selected Essays, 1942-2009, by Irving Kristol, edited by Gertrude Himmelfarb.
  • Webster Younce reviews The Ballad of Bob Dylan: A Portrait, by Daniel Mark Epstein.
  • Andrew Roberts reviews Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground, by Jonathan Kay.
  • Dedra McDonald Birzer reviews The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, by Wendy McClure.
  • Ross Douthat reviews The Beaver.
  • Richard Brookhiser commutes between town and country.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
The Bent Pin  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .