PA Dems Go on the Attack
Six months ago, Pennsylvania Democrats faced their worst political environment in decades. The party lost a large majority of its competitive seats, and lost control of over a dozen high-profile state and federal offices.
Bolstered by what they see as Republicans’ politically untenable budget in the PA House and Democrat Kathy Hochul’s Medicare-themed win in the special election for New York’s 26th Congressional seat, Dems argue that they have the momentum heading into the 2012 election (and yes, they know it’s 18 months away).
Yesterday, Democratic Chairman Jim Burn and representatives from the House Democratic Campaign Committee hosted a conference call with reporters. They detailed a paid media campaign targeting PA House Republicans who voted for the budget, which begins today and consists of robocalls, online ads and email.
“Not only is this budget devastating for Pennsylvania families,” said Burn, “but it’s an enormous overreach which will have severe political consequences for the House Republicans in the next election.”
They’re targeting 25 districts across PA where Democrats performed well in 2006 and 2008. They wouldn’t say exactly which members they were targetting, but they named a few: Rick Saccone, Kerry Benninghoff, Dan Truitt, Warren Kampf, John Lawrence, and as friend of the site J.D. Prose writes, Rep. Jim Christiana.
“The Republicans we’re targeting were already vulnerable before this vote. These seats are good Democratic territory. Of the 25 targeted seats, Senator Casey won 24 in 2006. Governor Rendell won 21, and won 18 of them by more than 55 percent,” said Fiona Conroy, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee.
Dem leaders on the call acknowledged that redistricting would affect the voting statistics of districts in 2012, and said the targeting was conducted “as if the elections were held tomorrow.”
Practically in the same breath as he described the forthcoming paid media campaign, Burn mentioned the Democratic victory in the NY-26 congressional special election (though he omitted the fact that a third party candidate may have impacted the final outcome of the race).
“The environment is a 180 degree shift from where we were six months ago,” he said.
It follows up on an email that the state party sent out to the press yesterday, noting that the PA GOP had sent staffers to help with the NY-26 effort.
“Since campaigning on ending Medicare as we know it worked so well in NY-26, we figured we would send the PA GOP a copy they can use to campaign in Pennsylvania in 2012. Heck, we’ll even make copies for them to give to all 8.5 million registered voters in Pennsylvania,” said Party spokesman Mark Nicastre. He added he was sending over a copy of Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity.”
So are the Dems really back? As you might imagine, it depends on who you ask.
“The House Democrats have chosen to sit out this budget process and not even put together a proposal. What the House Republicans are doing right now is governing; politics will take care of itself down the road.
“We all know consultants can twist a vote however they want and HDCC can robocall and email till their hearts content. But 6 months down the road if the economy continues moving forward and a surplus is forming for next year’s budget, our members will be viewed by voters as having the courage to make a decision that was not only responsible, but was the best route for our state.
“We won the majority in a landslide last year on a message that we will govern this state responsibly and stop the spending frenzy. Our budget vote clearly reflects the message that we delivered to our voters that we would uphold.”
J.J. Balaban, Principal Consultant with The Campaign Group (Democratic)
“I can’t say anything about the PA budget, but the NY26 outcome highlights how the Republican political winds of 2010 have subsided and what worked for the Republicans in 2010 isn’t working as effectively now. Republicans may have erred in believing that they received a mandate in 2010, instead of being victorious because the public was tired of “the other guys” (the Democrats). I suspect that there are some guys right now named Mike, Pat, and Lou who are really wishing they hadn’t rashly voted to eliminate Medicare to pay for a tax cut for the rich.
“That said, November 2012 is a long ways away.”
Chris Nicholas, President of Eagle Consulting Group, Inc. (Republican)
The PA House budget and NY-26 are “unrelated issues. Specials are often ‘over-interpreted.’
“The GOP here said they’d hold the line on spending and not raise taxes on people. They’ve kept that promise.”
Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll and Professor of Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College
We need more evidence that it will be a big factor next year. The whole issue for the D’s in NY26 was Ryan’s Medicare plan. We need to see how many R’s get out on that limb here [in PA]. I think few except those in very heavily R districts. I do think the D’s have an issue that voters certainly care about, but we need to see cases involving R’s that oppose the plan and how they do, and what trumps the economy next year. I don’t think we will have another big wave election. The election results will be more mixed, especially if the economy continues to recover.”