Saturday, June 6, 2009

Frank Harrison 1940-2009

Above: Frank Harrison, M.C., Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Speaker of the House, Your blog editor.

Attorney Frank Harrison died this past week. He passed away in Galveston, Texas. Frank came out of the 1982 Primary as the Democratic nominee for Congress in Pennsylvania's 11th District and easily defeated Jim Nelligan in that year's election. Harrison was defeated in the 1984 Primary by Paul Kanjorski who serves in the congressional seat to this day. Frank became the "fair haired" boy of the Democratic Freshmen Class of '82. Because of it, he was able to bring in the "big guns" for his re-election effort. One of those guns was Tip O'Neill, Speaker of the House. The above picture was taken in the backroom of the Peking Chef Restaurant on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre during a live shot on WBRE-TV 28.

I got to know Frank while I was the News Director at WILK-AM. Each Primary and Election, Harrison would co-anchor our election coverage with the late, great Dr. Roy E. Morgan. In 1980, the Luzerne County Commissioners decided to end the long standing practice of tabulating results on Election Night. WILK Engineer Ron Balonis developed a computer program and WILK tabulated the results. Using those results and Frank's bellwether precincts, WILK was the first to declare an upset win by Republican Jim Nelligan in the 1980 11th District Congressional race. Before you go saying, "so what," remember this was 1980 and computers just didn't do then what they do now.

Harrison was always a gentleman and always brilliant. One lousy campaign in 1984 sealed his fate and I often wonder what things would have been like if Harrison had been re-elected. Would Frank Harrison have been the man standing in the middle in the picture above?

RIP, old friend.

1 comment:

David Yonki said...

kevin, there is no doubt in my mind that harrison would be nationally known. speaker? most likely. but the fickle finger of luzerne county electoral fate said otherwise.