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Friday, July 01, 2005

PA-Sen: SCOTUS Vacancy to Play Role

Posted by Tim Tagaris

It was bound to be a problem for Bob Casey Jr, whoever stepped down first from the Supreme Court, and it will continue to be a problem when Chief Justice Rehnquist steps down as well. Without hesitation, major news outlets began talking about one case (arguably, in jeopardy, Planned Parenthood v. Casey. While lesser known than Roe v. Wade, the case preserved a woman's right to chose, but gave more flexibility to the states to impose certain limitations. A quick Google News search of the case "Planned Parenthood v. Casey" shows over 2,000 articles mentioning the case today alone.

Since announcing his bid for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, Bob Casey Jr. has taken part in a difficult balancing act; on one hand, the hope is that his staunch anti-choice stance will take the issue of abortion off-the-table with conservatives in Pennsylvania's "T" region. On the other hand, he tries not to talk about it too much for fear of alienating a base that never quite turned out to contribute, volunteer, or even vote for anti-choice Democrat Ron Klink against Rick Santorum in 2000. From a piece by the Philadelphia Inquierer entitled, "Casey walks fine line between views on abortion and party support."

In the final years of his career, Gov. Robert P. Casey attacked abortion with the zeal of an Old Testament prophet, declaring that the Democratic Party had "lost its soul" on the issue. Don't expect the same from his son, Robert P. Casey Jr. [...]

The difference is that Casey Jr. would much rather talk about something else. Anything else.

He wants to talk about anything else because, believe it or not, in Pennsylvania, most people don't know that Bob Casey Jr. is pro-life for fear of suffering a fate similar to Klink in 2000. Two questions from a recent Quinnipiac poll:
On the issue of abortion, do you happen to know whether Bob Casey Jr. is pro-life or pro-choice?

Pro-Choice: 17%
Pro-Life: 9%
Don't Know: 74%

Two questions later (Question #22), they identify Bob Casey and Rick Santorum as pro-life, and ask the question where the real problem might lie for Bob Casey Jr.
If there were an independent candidate on the ballot who was pro-choice on the issue of abortion, how likely would you be to vote for that pro-choice candidate instead of (Casey/Santorum) -- very likely, somewhatlikely, not very likely or not likely at all?

Among Democrats:

Very Likely: 19%
Somewhat Likely: 29%
Don't Know: 8%

I am not saying that this will be an issue in the Democratic Primary; that decision can and will be made by groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood. At this point, Chuck Pennacchio doesn't have the financial firepower to make it one. But as more and more people find out about Casey's stance on choice, we will begin to see the impact of question #22 on Pennsylvania's electorate--begging the question, what will the impact be among progressives and pro-choice advocates across Pennsylvania in the run-up to the election and ultimately on Novemeber 6, 2006 should Casey get the nomination.

Posted at 10:03 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, Pennsylvania, Supreme Court | Technorati