Monday, November 12, 2012

Thoughts On Pennsylvania After 2012

Spot the incorrect county, get a cookie.
The last time Pennsylvania went Republican for President is 1988, or the last time that New York and New Jersey went red. With President Obama's five point win in the Keystone State, we find that this is probably a trend that will stay. The President won the state while only carrying the following counties even: Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Northampton, Lehigh, Monroe, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Dauphin, Erie, and Allegheny. He lost Berks and Chester by just a point, and lost relatively close in Cambria, Beaver, and Carbon as well.

In other words, we are not a swing-state anymore. We're Dem-leaning and competitive.

Senator Casey won without much of a ground game, outsourcing that to the President, and even being outspent, and he won easily. In other words, had he run a real campaign, he may have won a huge landslide. Kathleen Kane didn't have a ground game, per se, but with good ads in both the Spring and Fall, she ran away and hid with a huge landslide. McCord and DePasquale won easily as well, and we picked up three State Senate seats, making it very attainable now to promote a Democrat to Senate President in two years. About the only thing we didn't gain on was Congressional seats- a credit to bad candidates and gerrymandered districts that we did not challenge in court (and should have).

The job of Kane and DePasquale particularly is to use their investigative powers well. Tom Corbett's a 30% liked Governor in some polls, and a sitting duck for his ridiculous behavior as both Governor and Attorney General. The man did not investigate the Ories for things he locked others up for, he left Sandusky walking the streets for several years, tried to grandstand with the Penn State case, and has frankly lead an assault on our teachers that we have never seen before, causing huge layoffs and tax increases with his steep cuts to projected education spending. They need to use their oversight powers to take him on directly, and further the wounding he's already taken from his failed tenure.

Who should actually take him on though? I think the right of first refusal belongs to Senator Casey, who is the leader of our party right now. If not him, I'd be open to Kane, McCord, and Joe Sestak for sure. Allyson Schwartz would be wonderful, but I doubt she wants it. I like DePasquale a lot, but i'm not sure you jump from first term Auditor General to Governor right now, even with his time in the legislature. Any of them, if they're smart enough to get out of the Harrisburg echo chamber in their hiring, would be great candidates.

Locally, we have a huge chance to tip the Senate. The new 40th district should be centered in Monroe and Northampton Counties, and we can win it with turnout. The 24th of Bob Mensch did move south a bit, but is very attainable with his issues. The 16th of Pat Browne, if Browne indeed retires, is there for the taking for us, if we want it. It's as simple as picking up two seats, and the Governor's mansion, to do away with the GOP's leadership there.

Congressionally, i'm less hopeful. Charlie Dent won easily, but was one of the closest races in the state. While they are much smaller in vote numbers, Dent won by over 20% in Dauphin, Lebanon, and Berks Counties. His wins in Lehigh and Northampton were much closer, but they were still not good- a Democrat has to carry those easily. The only races under 20% in their margin in the state: Mike Kelly in the 3rd (13.6%), Jim Gerlach in the 6th (14.2%), Patrick Meehan in the 7th (19%), Mike Fitzpatrick in the 8th (13.4%), Lou Barletta in the 11th (17%), Keith Rothfus in the 12th (3%), and Dent in the 15th (13.2%). In other words, these districts are too gerrymandered to be competitive against the current incumbents, right now, as is. About the only positive in this is that only the 6th, 8th, and 12th got any national money at all, so maybe the others can be pulled into competitive status. Even so, I'm not hopeful.

The one low spot is in the House. They failed to make a meaningful dent in the House Majority. I still believe going after races like the 116th (Toohil) was a waste. Sadly, we might be looking at a continuation of the crappy representation we have over there. Fortunately, on the local level, we did keep Justin Simmons on his toes, but still, no wins is no wins. The House failed.

Welcome to Blue Pennsylvania. Feel free to stay for a while.

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