PoliticsPA’s Up and Down: 4/16 Edition
Joe Sestak. The past seven days brough the congressman’s campaign, which some Democrats and the media were already writing off, back to life. Rick Santorum’s remarks about Specter’s Supreme Court promise, which the incumbent Democrat vigorously denies ever happened, put the longtime senator on his heels for the first time in months. Days later, a Rasmussen poll showed Specter and Sestak in a dead heat. The survey was an outlier (most polls show Specter up 10 to 20 points), but it, along with some good press, helped remind everybody that the admiral still has a fighting chance against Specter. Even though his fundraising continues to lag, he already has enough in the bank to take down his opponent.
Pat Toomey. $2.3 million raised in one quarter? Wowza. The Republican U.S. Senate candidate continues to build an impressive fundraising machine that thus far has emphasized cultivating a wide range of donors from across the country. Sure, he still faces a big cash-on-hand deficit to Specter, but unlike the Democratic incumbent, he gets to conserve his resources ahead of the primary. Watch for Toomey to fade from the public eye in the coming weeks as the Specter-Sestak battle heats up — we get the feeling he won’t mind watching the two Democrats duke it out.
The Philadelphia Daily News. Feels good to have an in-state paper win the Pulitzer, doesn’t it? Let’s hope the Inquirer, Post-Gazette and Morning Call get one next year.
Special session on transportation funding. We’re OK with the idea of calling for a special session in the wake of the Feds rejection of the I-80 tolling plan, even if practically it makes very little difference to how the legislature will do business. This down arrow is for the session’s prospects, which, despite public optimism some leaders, many around the Capitol feel is doomed failure. With the $4 billion pension crisis looming, how many more problems can this state kick to the next governor?
Joe Vod Varka. Joe, we hardly knew you. Our only regret about the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate getting knocked off the ballot is the fact he won’t be able to debate Specter and Sestak on May 1. That could have been a lot of fun.
Mary Beth Buchanan. Can she be called the GOP favorite in the 4th Congressional District anymore? The former U.S. attorney, touted by some Republicans as Jason Altmire’s worst nightmare, has had a terrible start to her campaign, capped off by Thursday’s abysmal first quarter fundraising numbers. She was even outraised by little-known Allegheny County attorney Keith Rothfus, who supporters say has outworked his high-profile opponent. After entering the race with baggage attached, don’t be surprised if some Republicans begin viewing Rothfus as a better challenger to Altmire’s seat.