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Saturday, March 26, 2005

2006 Pennsylvania Senate "virtual" campaign

Posted by Bob Brigham

Bob Novak seems to think Tim doesn't exist:

Dole's Democratic counterpart, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, has guaranteed a virtually uncontested primary in Pennsylvania for the strongest Democratic candidate, State Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., against Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum.

Virtually, it appears the 2006 Pennsylvania Democratic Primary is very contested.

Posted at 09:47 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Netroots, Pennsylvania | Technorati


Bob, it's instructive that you happened to write this post about PA right after the one below about RI. The PA situation points out an overlooked reason why having a contested primary is often a good thing: If your front-runner dude drops out, or flags for some reason, you have somewhere else to turn.

Think it's too much of a freak occurrence to worry about? Think again. In 2004, the front-runner in NH (Burt Cohen) had to drop out after a campaign finance scandal involving his treasurer. In 2002, Bob Torricelli was mercifully pushed aside in NJ.

And right now, gearing up for the 2006 race, the supposed front-runner has decided to bail. It's a good thing there are other names in the hopper there. Now, I'm not saying Casey is likely to ditch, nor am I saying that Chuck should be viewed purely as a bench-warmer.

But it *is* good insurance, in most cases. I mean, we are really, really far away from the election - over a year from just the primary. Who knows what might happen? Hell, freakin' Greenwood dropped out in PA-08 just a few months before the election. And look at Jim Stork - similar deal. Family crises, health crises, better job offers, scandals, who knows what - these pop up ALL the time. We're only human, after all.

Sometimes, you get lucky and you have a retired-too-early Lautenberg waiting in the wings for you in a very blue state. But sometimes, you don't have that same kind of luck. And if Casey doesn't make it to election day as our nominee for whatever reason, I'll be damn glad Chuck is in this race also.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 27, 2005 07:11 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I think it is almost fair to use the word, "reckless" in reference to Party leaders who try to clear primary campaigns. While it may be in the best interest of a particular candidate, as you point out, statistically it is bound to catch up for political parties.

Candidates have self-interest, consultants and staff are bound to support those interests, but if you aren't running and aren't on the payroll, why would you ever claim it is in the best interests of the Party to clear a primary?

Posted by: Bob Brigham [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 27, 2005 07:33 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Listen, I think it's important to work to sometimes promote candidates from the grass roots. And as someone who worked on Howard Dean's presidential campaign from the very beginning, I understand that the party establishment can often be short sighted. I also don't disagree that contested primaries can sometimes be good things.

That being said, there is a large segment of the online liberal community that needs to start grasping reality.

Chuck Pennacchio has the same chance to be the Democratic nominee in PA that Mike Miles had against Salazaar in Colorado last year, namely, none.

Casey is the strongest candidate to win this race, and this is a race we can, and should win. You could argue that the Dems shouldn't have forced Hafer out because a Casey/Hafer primary would have toughened up the winner and given the Dems publicity. I disagree with that assesment, though, since I think we need to start fundarising and attacking Santorum now.

So I know I am going to get destroyed for this, so flame away.

Posted by: Win The House [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 27, 2005 10:12 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Chuck will not win with a me-too candidacy against a higher-profile candidate in Casey. It's unwinnable if they're speaking off a similar page. Casey simply has a more powerful megaphone. The only way Chuck can make headway is to highlight the inappropriate meddling of the national party in clearing the field, and installing an anti-choice candidate, defying the will of core Democrat supporters. The message to the Party is that winning isn't everything, especially if you dispatch your values in the process. Unless Chuck presents this angle, and wins the base through a "grassroots vs. establishment candidate" narrative, he will make steady but minute progress and never gain the momentum necessary of an insurgent candidacy.

Posted by: bchandra [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2005 12:44 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

In the world of the red/blue states.. Winning IS everything. If Pennacchio by some miracle ended up unseating Casey due to huge liberal Democratic turnout in PA, he would get DESTROYED by Santorum in the General Election. One issue shouldn't disqualify a candidate from carrying the mantle of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Falcon4e [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2005 02:23 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It's bad for the party when a candidate with "no chance to win" (I put that in quotes for a reason) insists on tearing down the establishment candidate in a primary. It's a lose-lose proposition.

From everything I have seen, Chuck has not done that. All I have seen him do is make positive statements about who he is, and call attention to negative things about Santorum. Because the left wing of the party does not love Casey, Chuck is able to motivate the base to get out and vote against Santorum, even if he doesn't end up being the candidate. How can any of this be a bad thing?

I don't see how marginalizing a candidate who is keeping things positive does anything good for the party. All it does is lead some of the more left-wing members to feel disenfranchised.

Posted by: Steve M [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2005 11:35 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

That being said, there is a large segment of the online liberal community that needs to start grasping reality.

There is also a segment of the online liberal community which needs to stop attacking straw men.

I am not in favor of Chuck Pennacchio's candidacy because I think he can or will win - though I hope he does. It's the same as when I started vocally supporting Howard Dean in January of 2003 (yes, 1/03). I didn't think he had a shot, either. And even though Dean didn't win, he had an enormously profound effect on the race.

But longshot - or even "hopeless" - candidates can play an important role in any race. One of the reasons I just illustrated in the comment above yours (which you seemingly chose to ignore) is that it provides a backup bench for inevitable front-runner collapses. (I'm not saying that WILL happen in this race - but it has happened to Dems often enough in recent years that an empty bench is a dangerous liability.)

There are about a billion more reasons - I'd argue that it strengthens Casey by forcing him to work the campaign trail harder and earlier than he otherwise might have, it gives him greater name recognition as the media actually bothers to cover a contested, it gets netroots people involved, many if not most of whom will help Casey if Chuck loses (just as Deaniacs went for Kerry). I could go on.

Hell, if Joe Hoeffel had had a contested primary, he might not have spent all last spring cooling his heels while Specter and Toomey sucked up all the political oxygen in Pennsylvania. This way, with Santorum not running in a primary, we can be sure that political attention will stay focused on the Dem race, and help raise awareness and name recognition - something both Democratic candidates need.

But just stop pretending that somehow we're delusional dreamers who think Chuck can go toe-to-toe against Casey and win. We are decidedly realists who realize that there are advantages to having Chuck in the race, even if he doesn't win.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 28, 2005 08:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment