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Friday, May 19, 2006

PA-10: Sherwood (R) on the Ropes

Posted by James L.

One of the few real surprises out of Tuesday evening's primaries was scandal-haunted incumbent Rep. Don Sherwood’s close call in a primary battle with political newcomer Kathy Scott. Let's take another look at why the battle for the 10th is going to be a real barn-burner this fall.

As far as incumbent protection schemes go, Rep. Don Sherwood has had a pretty sweet deal in recent years. After winning a nailbiter in 1998 (by a margin of 606 votes) and another tight race in 2000 over Democrat Patrick Casey, the Republican-controlled state legislature worked to cover his vulnerable ass in the last round of redistricting, moving Democratic-leaning Scranton to the nearby 11th C.D. and adding swaths of Republican-friendly rural territory to the 10th. What was once a tight swing district turned into a solid Republican bastion that gave 60% of its votes to George W. Bush in 2004. Sherwood had it so good, that Democrats didn't even bother to oppose him in 2002 and 2004. Now, if only he didn't have to go and get himself $5.5 million lawsuit for allegedly choking his 29 year-old mistress of five years. You just had to go and ruin a good thing, didn't you Don?

Undoubtedly, the lingering aftermath of Sherwood's extramarital scandal has poisoned his political capital in the 10th. That this guy still managed to win any kind of election is rather perverse on a deeper level, but his 56%-44% margin of victory over primary opponent Kathy Scott is a bad omen for his chances in November against Democrat and former Pentagon intelligence analyst Chris Carney. The Donster wasn't exactly resting on his laurels for this race. As The Hotline notes:

Sherwood spent $300,000 on seven direct mailings and automated phone calls from President Bush and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

That's right: Sherwood had to dump $300k of his $800k warchest to survive a primary challenge from an unknown who presumably spent less than $5,000. Moreover, even direct appeals from Santorum and Bush couldn't prevent this anemic result. Better yet, Scott spent the last several weeks attempting to refute accusations that she was a stealth Democrat:

"Why would a Democrat change her party affiliation just days before the filing deadline and run in the Republican Primary for Congress? That's what ... Kathy Scott did," states a flier mailed out to registered Republican voters by the Sherwood re-election campaign on May 1. "And what's to stop her from changing back to a Democrat should she and the Democratic Party's liberal leaders win the election?"

Scott claims that she's switched her party registration back and forth to support "good candidates" across party lines, but that's beside the point. Obviously, a good share of PA-10 Republicans have a significant level of disgust for Sherwood that they'd throw their vote to a possible Democrat. With that in mind, it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that a few of them would even go so far as to vote for the real deal come November.

Chris Carney has been a solid challenger this cycle, but he's lacked the big break to make his campaign truly competitive and catch the attention of statewide and national donors. This is it. The DCCC started to make noise about funding Carney last week, and you can bet that after these results, they're salivating over what looks like yet another competitive race in Pennsylvania.

Posted at 02:10 AM in 2006 Elections - House, Pennsylvania | Technorati

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We had a similiar situation here in Ohio with LaTourette.

Goper voters talk a "family values" game... until they get into the voting booth, that is. Then they vote for Republican philanderers.

Bob Bennett's picture should be in the dictionary next to "hypocritical liar."

Posted by: Ohanon [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 07:41 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I don't think too many Congressional race watchers held out too much hope that the solidly Republican PA-10 would turn out Don Sherwood....before Tuesday night that is. We've seen two rounds of the "Pennsylvania Purge" so far. The first was last November when hard-core red-staters in Dover, Pennsylvania, shocked the world by unseating their entire school board over the Intelligent Design fiasco. The second purge came last Tuesday when senior members of the state's GOP Legislature were defeated in the primary and usually-secure Congressional incumbent Don Sherwood barely hung on in a battle against a neophyte primary challenger.

The most important round of the Pennsylvania Purge is hopefully yet to come. We now have an excellent chance of taking out Rick Santorum, Jim Gerlach, Curt Weldon, Mike Fitzpatrick and Don Sherwood, but we may now even have the momentum to oust Melissa Hart, Tim Murphy, and Phil English as well. The only worry is that the Pennsylvania Purge is anti-incumbent in general, which could put Tim Holden and Allyson Schwartz in potential jeopardy.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 09:11 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The thumping Don Sherwood took in his own primary was one of the best developments so far in the entire 2006 cycle.
If Pennsylvania voters retire Senator Santorum, Congressman Sherwood, and Congressman Weldon in this cycle,
then we will have done a good deed not just for the Party, but for the safety of America.
Retiring dangerous lunatics is good public policy, no matter what party they belong to.

Jim Gerlach was already on the ropes, but now we've got other GOP incumbents in our crosshairs for November.

Sherwood's opponent, Chris Carney, is on my anti-Exxon ActBlue page at:


Send him any support you can spare.
I also added Chad Kluko, running against Tim Murphy in the 18th, now that he's won his primary.

Posted by: Christopher Walker [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 10:19 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark, just bear in mind that leading up to the 1994 mid-terms, Democrats also claimed that things looked tough because of a general "anti-incumbent" sentiment.

In the end, zero GOP incumbents lost.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 12:41 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I wouldn't worry about Schwartz losing. As for Holden, that's a Republican district, but he knows it and he knows how to win there. You've got to love how the Republicans did such a good job of gerrymandering the PA delegation, only to watch one after another of their incumbents do all they could to throw the races to the Democrats!

Posted by: RamblinDave [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 01:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Here's a link to CQ's change of PA-10 from "Republican Favored" to "Leans Republican" (frankly though they should have made this "No Clear Favorite": http://www.cqpolitics.com/2006/05/pa_10_lingering_scandal_puts_s.html

And the rest of the PA race ratings:

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 02:12 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I kinda doubt that the "anti-incumbent fever" in PA is mostly to blame for Sherwood's numbers. Here's a telling excerpt from a recent CQ Politics article:

Sherwood also may have been hindered by an anti-incumbent wave in Pennsylvania that saw the defeat of many incumbent state legislators who supported a proposed pay raise for themselves.

But the only other House incumbent to face primary opposition Tuesday, six-term Democrat Mike Doyle of the Pittsburgh-based 14th District, coasted with 76 percent of the vote. And Doyle faces zero trouble in the general election: no Republican filed to run against him.

Posted by: James L. [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 02:47 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Since I will be back in PA over the Memorial holiday, I'm planning on going to a Carney event, which I have heard Sen. Max Cleland will be attending. My father still lives in the area, and said that he has talked to many friends, who are social issues conservatives, and they have said they can't bring themselves to vote for Sherwood this time around. One thing about conservatives in Northeastern Pennsylvania is that they generally stick to their principles, and the more viable Carney seems, the more he can win over these staunch Republicans. If Carney starts making inroads with agricultural issues, then I predict a major upset.

Posted by: BCarr [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 02:53 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Why the hell is Charles Dent going unopposed in the 50-50 district of PA-15? The Dems couldn't find ANYONE willing to challenge him?

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 03:16 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Mark: fear not. Dent has a challenger: Charles Dertinger, a Northampton City Councilman. He won a place on the ballot with a write-in campaign after several Democrats failed to gather the required petitions to be placed on the ballot. It was a pretty decent result, too--he needed 1000 votes, but ended up getting 3,200 people to write his name in. You can read the news here. It looks like Dertinger was actually being challenged by two other write-in campaigns for the Democratic nomination--one by Green candidate Greta Browne, and another by Dent himself! (Read about it here.) I haven't found out for sure if Dertinger got all the votes he needed, but the lack of any news about it leads me to believe that he probably did. I'll keep my eyes out for the confirmation, though.

Posted by: James L. [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 04:38 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

An outside group should run an attack ad on Dent, calling him a "liberal" who tried to run as a Democrat.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 05:41 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The Pennsylvania congressional races are going to be wild. We could see some of the filthiest campaigns ever (mostly from the GOP side).

Posted by: dpinzow [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 06:32 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

CQ aren't the only guys switching up the rankings. Cook Political moved Sherwood from Likely Republican to Leans Republican. Weldon (PA-07) was moved to Leans Republican as well.

Its worth checking out the new rankings. Where before Repubs were saying it couldn't be like '94 because there weren't enough seats in play, that's changing. Cook just put 12 more Republican seats in play in his rankings, up to 36 now and dropped one Dem seat out of play, Salazar in CO-03. Cook now rates only 10 Democratic held seats as competitive. Of those 10 only OH-06 is now rated a toss up and thats being generous to the GOP after Wilson's write-in performance.

Posted by: Bothwell [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2006 06:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment