Guest Column: Senate Democrats Poised to Win the Majority

This is shaping up to be a banner year for the Senate Democrats — with Tom Wolf consistently 25 points up in the polls (30 points in the most recent), and the control of the State House so far out of reach, the Senate Democrats are the only game in town for statewide and national Democratic donors and supporters. Combined with last cycle’s successes of picking up three seats, there is a palpable energy and confidence in the Democratic leadership, the campaign committee’s operation, the candidates, and the Senate Democrats’ chances.

Bolstered by the lack of serious races to put the Senate Democrats on defense, plus Wolf’s strength and Corbett’s weakness making him an anchor around the neck of every Republican in Pennsylvania, there is a strong likelihood that this will be the year where the Senate Democrats regain control of the chamber.

Currently, there are 23 Democrats and 27 Republicans in the Senate chamber. Therefore, 26 seats represents a majority, although if one party obtains 25 seats and the Governorship they would gain the majority as the Lt. Governor casts the tie-breaking vote.

Every two-years, half of the Senate comes up for election (the 25 odd-numbered districts run with the President at the top of the ticket, and the 25 even-numbered districts run with the Governor). Since this is a gubernatorial year, all of the even-numbered districts are up for re-election.

As Christopher Nicholas did in his guest column, I will only be looking at the 16 contested Senate races this November, and not discussing the races that are not on the ballot, or the ones where there is no opposition from the other party (for obvious reasons).

Seats that are likely to flip (in order of likelihood)

Note that all three of the Democrats in these races are currently on TV in their districts.

Senate District 26 – Republican Held – Leans Democratic

D – Kane
R – McGarrigle

Analysis: Any way you cut it, this is going to be the biggest race in the legislature. Even though the seat is Republican-held, this is a district that consistently votes five to ten points better for Democrats than the rest of the state does. Additionally, the Delaware County Democrats have made incredible gains over the last several years in registration, organization, fundraising, and candidate recruitment including the State House candidates, which will only help Democrat John Kane as they run strong.

Of course, any race this important, attracts major players and their check books: the Senate Majority Leader Republican Dominic Pileggi will be making the pitch that this seat needs to stay Republican-held or else he will lose his leadership position — a compelling argument to many Southeastern Pennsylvania donors of both parties who are concerned with losing influence to the more rural parts of the state and their decidedly anti-Philadelphia bend. On the Democratic side, this is being viewed as a battle for the heart and soul of Pennsylvania’s suburban working class, bringing out traditional Democratic groups from organized labor to issue-based groups like Planned Parenthood and Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania, who will all be looking to make this their marquee race — it doesn’t hurt that the John Kane is a labor leader in his own right.

Senate District 40 – Republican Held – Tossup

D – Aurand
R – Scavello

Analysis: Democrat Mark Aurand survived a hotly-contested Democratic primary proving that as a newcomer, he has the organization and political smarts needed to win. On his side are the changing demographics of Monroe and Northampton Counties with the influx of New York and New Jersey residents who make up the traditional Democratic base. The Republican, State Rep. Mario Scavello has a strong fundraising base, and has represented large portions of the district for some time. However, Scavello’s support for the transportation bill that raised gas taxes (a big issue when a lot of the district commutes to New York City for work), Corbett’s cuts to education, and standing with Corbett on many other issues will be tough to overcome.

Senate District 6 – Republican Held – Tossup

D – Rose
R – Tomlinson*

Analysis: Democrat Kim Rose came to run for the State Senate by beating the Republican party machine to unseat a popular incumbent Township Supervisor in the very red part of a very blue district. While she has her work cut out for her, once again facing a long-serving Republican in Senator Tommy Tomlinson, this looks to be her year. Tommy Tomlinson has taken a series of unpopular votes, specifically voting for the Corbett education cuts. Perhaps most damning are the votes he took in lock-step with the conservative wing of the Republican party on issues of women’s health (I assume, voting his heart, rather than his deep-blue district). Like Scavello, this race rises or falls on how convincingly Tomlinson is tied to Corbett, and Wolf maintaining his significant lead in the polls.

Seats to watch (in order of likelihood of flipping)

Senate District 44 – Republican Held – Leans Republican

D – Cozzone
R – Rafferty*

Analysis: Democrat Kathi Cozzone is an incredibly popular County Commissioner, and Republican John Rafferty’s transportation bill raised gas taxes on this largely rural district. Rafferty is well-known and well-funded, but his negatives will have to be overcome. Look for spending on the part of the Senate Democrats to try to move the numbers in this district.

Senate District 12 – Republican Held – Leans Republican

D – Damsker
R – Greenleaf*

Analysis: Democrat Ruth Damsker is a popular former County Commissioner and Senator Stewart Greenleaf (like Tomlinson) has taken a lot of votes on women’s health that are out of step with his district. A tough one for Damsker, but likely Greenleaf’s last run, putting Damsker in a great position for a special election win or a victory if Greenleaf doesn’t seek re-election in four years.

Senate District 10 – Republican Held – Leans Republican

D – Cickay
R – McIlhenny*

Analysis: Democrat Steve Cickay was the loyal party guy, putting his name on the ballot when no one else would. However, when a stronger candidate in Shaughnessy Naughton emerged, he decided to stay on the ballot, freezing most major Democratic donors out of the race. There’s still a chance in this Democratic-leaning district, but it’s going to be tough if Cickay doesn’t have money or organization.

Senate District 50 – Republican Held – Safe Republican

D – Muha
R – Brooks

Analysis: Democrat Mike Muha is a pillar of his Mercer County community and working the district hard. Given that this is an open seat, and Wolf is polling so well with the Republican base that makes up a lot of the district, this seat may be the sleeper of the year.

Seats that won’t flip

Senate District 2 – Democratic Held – Safe Democratic

D – Tartaglione*
R – Jenkins

Senate District 4 – Democratic Held – Safe Democratic

D – Haywood
R – Gilchrist

Senate District 32 – Democratic Held – Leans Democratic

D – Kula
R – Stefano

Analysis: Look for the Republicans to spend early to try to move numbers in this district, but success will be unlikely given registration, party performance, and the popularity of Democratic State Rep Deb Kula. Can’t blame them for trying as the conservative Southwestern part of the state looks like the only place for the Republicans to go for pickups while Pennsylvania becomes darker and darker blue. Unfortunately for them, this won’t be their seat.

Senate District 46 – Democratic Held – Safe Democratic

D – Solobay*
R – Bartolotta

Analysis: Democratic Senator Tim Solobay is popular and in a Democratic district. Like in the 32nd District, look for spending out of desperation rather than political analysis from the Republicans who are trying to find a place to gain ground.

Senate District 16 – Republican Held – Leans Republican

D – Felton
R – Browne*

Senate District 22 – Democratic Held – Safe Democratic

D – Blake*
R – Albert

Senate District 24 – Republican Held – Safe Republican

D – Hansen
R – Mensch*

Senate District 28 – Republican Held – Safe Republican

D – Small
R – Wagner*

Analysis: Republican Senator Scott Wagner will likely breeze through re-election but will be interesting to watch as he spends his fortune on Senate races other than his own, including his quixotic endeavor to help Republican Camera Bartolotta against Democratic Senator Tim Solobay in the 46th District.

Senate District 36 – Republican Held – Safe Republican

D – Schreckengost
R – Aument

Conclusion

As Christopher Nicholas pointed out, the Democrats 23 seats take a hit out of the box with the retirement of Democratic Senator Jim Ferlo in the 38th District which merged with Republican Senator Randy Vulakovich’s district, and Vulakovich will be running unopposed — effectively flipping a seat from Democratic to Republican through redistricting.

However, in a year where Governor Corbett will be such an impediment to Republicans, it looks like the top three “Likely to flip” seats flip, taking the Senate Democrats to 25 seats. Of course, this only happens with Tom Wolf winning, but with a Wolf win, the Democratic Lieutenant Governor will seal the Democratic majority in the State Senate with his 51st vote for the Democrats.

As Wolf continues to build his lead in the polls, don’t count out any of the races to watch. This could be an extraordinary year for the Senate Democrats.

Aren Platt is a veteran Democratic consultant, and is the Principal for Cycle Strategy whose clients include several Democratic State Senators and Democratic State Senate candidates including John Kane.

Guest Column: GOP Control of State Senate Likely

Democratic State Senate Leader Jay Costa declared in a recent Post-Gazette article that his party was “on the cusp” of taking back control there. Could that happen in November? Potentially, perhaps — but it’s not likely.  Hamstrung by poor candidate recruitment which has begat even poorer campaign fundraising, it’s clear that Democrats, who picked up three Senate seats in 2012, will be hard pressed not to actually lose ground this fall — a net gain by the Senate GOP is actually the likeliest scenario today.

A district by district review shows that State Senate Democrats are not close to taking control of that Chamber in November, which the GOP now holds with a 27-23 margin.

Starting Gate:

Looking at the 25 odd-numbered Senate seats which are not up this year plus those Senators who are on the ballot this fall but unopposed produces a 17-17 R/D split between the two parties.  Note that the GOP has already picked up the 38th District – Sens. Vulakovich (R) and Ferlo (D) were put together there in redistricting but then Ferlo decided to retire.  The Democrats, inexplicably, could not field a candidate though 50% of the District’s voters are Democrats.

Of the remaining 16 contested state Senate races on the November ballot, our analysis shows Republicans are favored in eight and the Democrats in three; meanwhile there are two GOP leaning districts and one Democrat leaning district – which together makes it 27-21 R/D, with two toss-ups.  Below is a detailed look at these 16 seats.

Republican Favored: 6th, 10th, 12th, 16th, 24th, and 44th in greater Southeast Pa. and the 28th & 36th in central Pa.

Nowhere is the Senate Democrat’s poor recruiting job more evident than in greater southeastern Pennsylvania, where the recent electoral trends should provide them with favorable headwinds. In the two districts in Bucks County – the 6th and the 10th, along with the 12th that straddles the Bucks/Montgomery County line — Republican incumbents Tommy Tomlinson, Chuck McIlhinney and Stu Greenleaf respectively have more than $500,000 combined in their campaign treasuries.  Their Democratic opponents have about $26,000 combined cash on hand (CoH). (All the campaign fundraising numbers mentioned here come from the candidates’ most recent filings in mid-June with the Sec. of State’s office.)

Sen. Costa stated that Senate Democrats would benefit from Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf’s strength at the top of the ticket, boasting that their efforts are “tied at the hip.”  But remember that in 2006 those GOP incumbents all managed to win even though the very popular Ed Rendell – in a terrific year for Democrats across the country – secured those districts by landslide proportions: 75%, 67% and 69% respectively. Even if Wolf carries these districts in November, no one (not even Sen. Costa) can think Wolf will recreate Rendell’s margins there.  These three Republican incumbents are battle-tested and have an overwhelming fundraising edge, not to mention that costly TV/radio rates in the Philadelphia media market make it harder for challengers to “buy” name ID.  Polls in the 6th and 10th put both GOP incumbents comfortably ahead.  Plus, none of these districts changed very much in redistricting, so the Republican incumbents don’t need to introduce themselves to new voters.

Emblematic of the Democrat recruiting woes here, the Democrat nominee in the 10th District, political neophyte Steve Cickay, made headlines in the Philadelphia Inquirer recently – but only because Rendell, Sen. Anthony Williams and other Democratic leaders publicly said they wanted to dump him and swap in another candidate. Rendell recently endorsed Cickay, however half-heartedly.

In Lehigh County’s 16th District – the second most Democratic district held by a Republican – popular GOP incumbent Pat Browne has $313,000 CoH while his opponent, Walter Felton, has less than $500.  And incredibly, Felton just became the new Democratic Party Chairman in Lehigh County which means he’ll have even less time to spend on his own campaign.

In the 44th District Republican incumbent John Rafferty has more than 4 times the CoH of his opponent, Chester County Democratic Commissioner Kathi Cozzone. And the GOP incumbent in the 24th District, Bob Mensch, didn’t have an opponent until local Democrats put together a write-in effort.  Both districts sport a GOP registration advantage.

The two central Pennsylvania districts – the 28th in York County and the 36th in Lancaster County — are overwhelmingly Republican and will not be seriously contested by the Democrats.

Democratic favored: 2nd & 4th districts in Philadelphia and the 22nd in Northeast Pa.

Incumbent 2nd District Democrat Christine Tartaglione survived a spirited primary challenge while her neighbor, indicted incumbent Leanna Washington, lost her primary in the 4th District.  Nevertheless, both districts are overwhelmingly Democratic and will remain that way.  Likewise, 22nd District incumbent John Blake from Scranton will easily win re-election to his seat, home to nearly 60,000 more Democrats than Republicans.

Republican Leaning: 40th District in Poconos and the 50th in northwest Pa.

During redistricting the 40th District was moved from Allegheny County to Monroe and Northampton counties, where long-time GOP House member Mario Scavello is favored to win.  Monroe County is a difficult place to campaign – especially for challengers — as many people live in gated communities and the north Jersey/NYC expats who moved there read the Bergen Record of New Jersey as often as they do the local Pocono Record…so it’s harder for an unknown candidate to get noticed there.  Plus the district is split between the Philadelphia, Scranton and NYC media markets which puts more strain on a candidate’s budget.  All this augurs poorly for Democratic activist/attorney Mark Aurand, who surprised observers and bested two more establishment Democrats in their May primary.  The well-known Scavello has 200 times more CoH now than Aurand.

The 50th District, in the “great northwest” as the folks there like to say, is a battle for the open seat of the retiring Republican incumbent Bob Robbins. Both Robbins, and his GOP predecessor, Roy Wilt, have endorsed four-term GOP State Rep. Michele Brooks, who now holds the same State House seat that Robbins did before he ascended to the Senate in 1990.  Brooks has nearly $75,000 CoH while her Democratic opponent, attorney Michael Muha, has less than $500.

Democratic Leaning: 46th District in far southwestern Pa.

First-term incumbent Democrat Tim Solobay represents the 46th District which is dominated by Washington and Greene counties.  His 53% win in 2010 gives him the distinction of being the Democrat with the closest winning margin that year.  Registration there favors the Democrats but like much of the region its people are voting more and more Republican – both counties went strongly for Mitt Romney in 2012.  Solobay has not made many enemies in Harrisburg and is outpacing his GOP opponent, Washington County businesswoman Camera Bartolotta, in fundraising; both parties look to be focusing their efforts in other districts.

Toss-Ups: Open seats in 26th District in Delaware & Chester counties; 32nd District which contains all of Fayette & Somerset counties and several towns in Westmoreland County

Both districts offer great opportunities to the party that does not currently hold the seat. The 26th, being vacated by GOP incumbent Ted Erickson, has a Republican registration edge but its people have been voting more Democratic in the past 10 years at the national and state-wide level.  Though the race is a toss-up, it’s clearly the Democrat’s best hopes for a take-away this year, as they believe local Plumber’s union business manager John Kane can wrest this seat away from the GOP by beating Delaware County Councilman and small business owner Tom McGarrigle.

Both McGarrigle and Kane are well funded and together have already raised more than one million dollars –this will be the most expensive senate race in the state. Republican Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, who represents the neighboring 9th District, is heavily invested in this race, just as many regional and state unions are on board with Kane (though McGarrigle did just snag the AFSCME endorsement). The local GOP is better funded and has a superior organization to call on, but to win McGarrigle will almost certainly need to run ahead of the top of the ticket.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the state, the 32nd District, being vacated by the retiring Democratic incumbent Rich Kasunic, represents the Senate Republican’s best chance at a take-away.  Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnatti is heavily invested in this race, and is strongly backing the Republican, small business owner Pat Stefano, who owns and operates his family’s third-generation printing company.  Stefano squares off against Democratic State Rep. Deb Kula.  Both candidates hail from Fayette County, long a Democratic bastion. The 32nd District is a reverse mirror image of the 26th in that it holds a Democratic registration edge but Mitt Romney won its two main counties in 2012, Fayette and Somerset.  This seat sits partially in the Pittsburgh TV market and also in the Johnstown-Altoona market, which will drive up the cost of campaigning.

To summarize, the Senate currently sits at 27-23 in favor of the GOP.  Though campaigns are unpredictable and there’s still lots of politicking still left, looking at the key 2014 races it appears that the Republican advantage brings it to 27 seats while the Democrats are at 21, with two toss up races. If the Democrats win both they will only be back to where they are now, but if the GOP can win either or both of the toss-ups, they can get back to what has been their more “normal” majority of 29.

Christopher Nicholas, a veteran GOP consultant, is the Political Director at the Pa. Business Council, home to PEG PAC, the state’s oldest pro-business political action committee.

Politically Uncorrected: A Romney Redux?

Mitt-Romney-loresIs Mitt Romney becoming the once and future GOP nominee for president? Six months ago such a question might have been met with a polite smile or an elevated eyebrow.

But no longer!

President Obama’s low approval ratings combined with a snap back in Romney’s own popularity increasingly is driving speculation that the former Massachusetts Republican governor might try it one more time.

Several new polls show Romney besting Obama in a hypothetical rematch – one by almost 10 points. That’s quite a bump for someone who lost the actual 2012 election by four points in the popular vote while being crushed 332 to 206 in the Electoral College.

Romney’s new popularity has placed him in demand as a GOP surrogate traveling to 2014 key battleground states as diverse as North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia. Fall trips to presidential tripwire states like Iowa and New Hampshire are planned.

The once pallid, punch-less loser of 2012 has become the new bright and vigorous shining star of 2014 carrying his party’s hopes and its message to a weary electorate looking for a champion. Still, it isn’t a long stretch to speculate that Romney, who has already run for president twice, could ever hope to win another nomination.

Is this Romney revival likely to fade rapidly if he actually became a candidate?  Three shots at the presidency might be two too many for most voters.

Maybe not!

The prospect of a former major party nominee losing the presidency but coming back nevertheless to win a second nomination is not a familiar concept to most voters. That’s because neither major party has renominated a losing presidential candidate since 1968, almost a half century ago when Richard Nixon won after not only losing his presidential bid to John F. Kennedy in 1960, but also his bid for governor of California in 1962.

The median American voter, now about 37 years old, has never had a chance to vote for a losing major party nominee a second time because the average American voter wasn’t alive the last time it was possible to do so.

But that doesn’t mean it has never happened. In fact, the 50-year gap of no second nominations for losing presidential candidates is something of an historical aberration. Indeed, across the full two centuries plus of American national government eight men have been renominated by a major party at least once after losing their initial bid for the presidency: Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison,  Henry Clay, William Jennings Bryan, Thomas Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, and Nixon. More surprisingly perhaps, two of these eight, William Jennings Bryan and Henry Clay were nominated three times.

And a final historical statistic the growing horde of Romney backers will find tantalizing: of the eight candidates renominated by a major party, four of them, or fully 50 percent, won the presidency on their second try – Jefferson, Jackson, Harrison, and Nixon. (The percentage of former presidential losers that became winners actually increases, if the strange case of Grover Cleveland is included. Cleveland was nominated three times, winning twice, but not consecutively, and losing once.)

But the possibility that Romney could be nominated again in 2016 rests on more than history. He is arguably the leading figure in a party that is bereft of leading figures and far from a consensus on whom its 2016 candidate should be.

Then, too, renominating Romney would blessedly move the GOP away from its recent dubious practice that some irreverently call the “Kiwanis club model” — in which the “next in line” in the previous nomination battle is nominated. Number two in 2012 was Rick Santorum, one of the more polarizing figures in the Republican Party.

Finally, as the GOP seems to lurch ever closer to becoming a regional party in national elections, Romney stands as one of a tiny few figures of national significance, bearing, and gravitas capable, perhaps, of leading the party to victory.

Romney might not excite the “base” anymore in 2016 than he did in 2012. But it might well turn out that failing to excite the base is the one.

Politically Uncorrected: Elections and Choices

balloMany Republicans who show up on May 20 to vote in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial primary will confront a familiar situation in American politics: they don’t have any choices.

Apparently, a few counties will have political GOP gadfly Bob Guzzardi on the ballot because a Supreme Court decision barring him from running came too late. But let’s not kid ourselves. There is no competition in the Republican Party for governor.

And that’s really too bad because as polls and other anecdotal evidence suggests, many Republicans would have preferred choices this year.

That some 3 million Pennsylvania Republicans have no primary choice this year for governor isn’t the worst of it; electoral choices are disappearing across the American political landscape, from state legislatures to Congress and beyond. More and more, Americans have fewer and fewer electoral choices at all levels of politics.

In fact, what passes for competition these days are the spasmodic shock waves that now convulse our politics from time to time, such as the 2010 tea party uprising or the infamous 2005 midnight pay raise in Pennsylvania. The lack of normal political competition has made the system particularly vulnerable to these electoral tsunamis.

Political competition constitutes a fundamental American value. It spurs the accountability of elected officials while ensuring the political system works to produce sound public policy. Yet, American politicians regularly exploit opportunities to limit it further.

For example, the Corbett campaign this year strenuously worked to keep his possible opponent off the ballot by using judicial challenges, a tactic employed by incumbents in both parties. These “ballot access challenges” are only one of an arsenal of tools politicians now regularly employ to limit competition. Another common tactic is intimidating would be opponents by raising massive amounts of cash. Even worse are the insidiously corrosive decennial reapportionment practices – the re-drawing of legislative district boundaries – that have all but eliminated competition from congressional races.

The evidence that political competition is disappearing is abundant. Fewer and fewer state legislative and congressional districts feature serious competition between the Republican and Democratic parties. Within these one-party districts, incumbents today typically face little or no opposition.

Once elected, they stay in office as long as they wish, rarely attracting serious challengers. Since the mid 1960s, at least 85 percent of U.S. House members running for re-election have won and at least 75 percent of Senate members running have won. Indeed, some years at state level the re-election rate exceeds 95 percent. In this year’s Pennsylvania primary, for example, only two members of Congress face opposition.

Today, only retirement produces any kind of real competition (open seats) and even then the competition occurs between members of the same party because reapportionment has made seats “safe” for one party or the other. And these open-seat elections are often non-competitive as well.

Sadly, we have now reached the place in our political history where a truly competitive congressional race (that is a race that either side could win) is so rare that often it is carried as a national story. And no wonder.

In any one contemporary congressional election no more than 10 percent of all House seats are really in play. The rest are either dominated by an incumbent – or are so one-sided in party registration – as to remove all doubt of who will win.

This disconnect between the competition we revere in our economic life – and the non- competition we get in our political life – is one of the most jarring inconsistencies in American life. It is also arguably a major cause of the dysfunctionality so often condemned in contemporary politics.

It’s clear that the public better understands the impact of competition in business than it does the loss of competition in politics. In business the loss of competition means fewer products and services, products and services of lower quality, and products and services that cost more. Most people understand this pretty well and few want to see it happen.

But in government and politics, the loss of competition is not so apparent, and hence not so well understood. But it is just as real. As in business, the quality of the public policy we get is directly related to the competitiveness of the political system that produces it.

Can we doubt that we get lousy public policy for the same reason that customers of a monopoly tend to get lousy services? Our politicians have little incentive to make it better.

And politicians who don’t have to compete also don’t have to worry about their jobs. And because they don’t, fewer of them are going to take on the tough issues or try to solve the really intractable problems.

How do we restore competition to our politics? There are many answers including fixing our broken reapportionment system and getting rid of some election laws that discourage competition. But before any of that, we need to recognize and acknowledge just how bad it has become. Until we first do that, competition will continue to decline in political life, and politics and public policy will continue to decline with it.

Politically Uncorrected: What Matters in 2014

PA-Governor-Mansion2Pennsylvania stands at the edge of an historical moment. For the first time in modern state history, a large-field of competitive gubernatorial candidates awaits an impending spring primary battle that will allow one of them to take on an incumbent governor next fall.

History making? Certainly. But otherwise, a gubernatorial primary like most others. The Democratic candidates running against incumbent Tom Corbett will face the same strategic factors candidates do in all competitive primaries.  Collectively, these five factors will determine what really matters in the May primary.

  • Money, lots of it – Pennsylvania is a quintessential electronic media state.  Social media, notwithstanding, no statewide presence can be achieved without raising prodigious amounts of cash. Governor Ed Rendell raised in total $42 million in 2002 and another $30 million for his reelection in 2006. Corbett spent $24 million in his initial election in 2010, while his losing opponent Dan Onorato spent $20 million. For the Democratic primary in 2014, the admission fee is minimally $5 million, and the winner will spend $10 million or more. Politics these days is many things – but one thing it is not, is cheap.
  • Political Geography – Geography, not demographics, has been destiny for many statewide elections in modern times.  Until recently, the geography that mattered was western Pennsylvania whose voters tended to vote disproportionately for western candidates.  More recently, the geography that matters has been growing southeastern Pennsylvania voters migrating from the Republican to the Democratic Party. But in the 2014 Democratic primary none of eight announced candidates hail from the western part of the state. Inevitably, then, the Democratic nominee will be a southeasterner running against a westerner, incumbent Tom Corbett, setting up a classic east versus west struggle.
  • Absence of Issues – The harmony among top-tier Democratic candidates on issues is striking. They probably agree on 85-90 percent of the issues likely to dominate the campaign. Mostly culturally liberal on fiscal matters, they advocate an aggressive economic development and job creation program, including extending long-term unemployment benefits.  On other policies, they make increased education funding a core issue, agree on strengthening environmental policies, but generally support fracking in the natural gas industry. Amid this universe of unanimity the contending candidates must somehow find a way to make salient distinctions between and among themselves. Ironically, this agreement on issues may produce a campaign less about issues and more about the personal traits and backgrounds of the candidates.
  • The Risks of Negative Advertising – With issue differences scarce, the personalities of the candidates will loom large. Voters will be looking for someone who looks and sounds “gubernatorial.” Candidate experience will count as voters decide if they want someone with a business background, legislative experience, private sector background, etc.  Most essential will be how candidates demonstrate the leadership skills necessary to lead the state during difficult times. The lack of issue differences will make ad hominemattacks on opponents both more likely and more dangerous. A nasty, negative and fractious Democratic primary could be a fatal blow to the party’s hopes to unseat incumbent Corbett in November.
  • Gender Politics – The dearth of female state officeholders proved a huge plus for Attorney General Kathleen Kane in her impressive 2012 victory. Pennsylvanians at long last seem ready to support women candidates in statewide races. Indeed, in the 2014 Democratic primary, it’s widely expected that gender will play a large role, with perhaps three women candidates on the ballot, two of them considered top-tier candidates by most.  How increased electoral support for women plays out is as crucial as it is difficult to forecast. On the one hand, the female vote is likely to be large. Conversely, multiple women candidates might divide much of it. The irony is palpable. For years, potential women candidates didn’t run because it seemed they couldn’t win; now that Kane has shown they can win, more women are running – and potentially could lose because of it.
  • The Rookie Factor – The intangible that may trump everything else is a piece of pedestrian politics that probably has won more statewide races than any other – the skills and organizational experience that come from running in earlier campaigns. Pennsylvania is a huge, diverse and complex state not noted for being kind to rookie candidates for governor. Most successful gubernatorial candidates have run (and lost) once, twice or more times at many levels. Bob Casey Sr. actually won the governorship on his fourth effort, Tom Ridge had long served in Congress and Ed Rendell had won four elections in Philadelphia before winning the governorship. The experience of running seems to provide an edge to most candidates.  Of the candidates, running this year Rob McCord has run twice statewide and Allyson Schwartz once.  Although some of the other candidates have run for office, none has run statewide campaigns.

Finally, there are some wild cards in play of uncertain impact. The most important of these may be the influence of union and party endorsements. In modern politics, endorsements are often disregarded by voters and devalued by campaigns. Nevertheless, they can still matter and could play a large role in this race with its large number of candidates. In a relatively low turnout primary, endorsements could in fact win it all.

Mourning The Loss of Pete DeCoursey

Pete DeCoursey

Pete DeCoursey

Pete DeCoursey, bureau chief of CapitolWire, died earlier this week.

He will be greatly missed by the entire Pennsylvania political community.

The following obituary, written by Charlie Thompson, was originally posted on PennLive.Com on January 1st.

Peter L. DeCoursey, an inveterate political junkie who turned a lifelong obsession into a colorful news career, died Wednesday at his parents’ home in Philadelphia after long battles against pancreatic and lung cancers.

DeCoursey, who worked in or covered Pennsylvania politics for most of three decades, served most recently as bureau chief for the online news service Capitolwire.com, where he published his last column this week.

The divorced father of two was 52.

DeCoursey made his biggest mark across Pennsylvania after getting his first assignment as a full-time Harrisburg-based political writer with The Patriot-News in 1997, and he spent the next 16 years painstakingly dissecting the work of four governors and the state Legislature.

As his career evolved, DeCoursey grew to be a mainstay on statewide talk shows and often popped up on pundits’ lists of “most influential” figures in state politics.

Junior lawmakers and state office wanna-bes considered it a big day if they were included in a DeCoursey piece.

But even as a rookie in the Pennsylvania Capitol’s newsroom, he was no novice to politics.

In fact, turning the typical career arc on its head, DeCoursey started his professional career on the political inside as an aide to former Philadephia City Councilwoman Ann Land, and later as a press secretary to former U.S. Rep. Bob Borski, D-Philadelphia.

Read more on PennLive.

Politically Uncorrected: Raising Kane in Pennsylvania

AG Kane

AG Kane

As one year ends and another begins, one thing is crystal clear: some particular Cain was raised in Keystone state politics this past year; and the particular Kane to which we refer was one Kathleen Kane, Pennsylvania’s new Attorney General. By any measure Attorney General Kane has become in less than a year Pennsylvania’s reigning political star. Interest in her is intense while speculation about her future political plans runs the gamut from a possible late entrance into the 2014 governor’s race to a future challenge to incumbent U.S. Senator Pat Toomey.

Kane’s ascendancy from virtual obscurity to the state’s biggest vote getter in 2012 continues to stun a still awestruck political community. Indeed, her meteoric rise has no contemporary parallel. She held no public office at the time of her election. In fact, she had never been elected to any office at any level of government. Her governmental background was more limited than any statewide elected official in modern history.

Few would have expected a former appointed assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County to become the incumbent state attorney general–an office once held by the current governor and previously held by two other gubernatorial candidates. When Kane first announced her candidacy many critics took her lightly, charging that she lacked both substance and experience. No Democrat or any woman had ever been elected attorney general in Pennsylvania.

When then explains Kane’s surge in 2013 to the most popular and arguably the most powerful Democratic politician in the state.

There are four reasons taken together that could provide an excellent political blueprint for any aspiring politico hoping to burst onto the state political landscape as Kane has done. While her rise has not been stumble free, Kane probably has produced the definitive road map to breathtakingly rapid success in statewide politics.

Gender Appeal – Kathleen Kane in 2012 was quintessentially the right woman at the right place and time.  Backlash against a male only political class had been growing for several cycles.  Shrewdly she ran against the “old boys in Harrisburg,” a charge that resonated well beyond the attorney general’s race. The gender appeal effectively reinforced the widely held perception that state politics was not exactly congenial to female candidates while it drew attention to Kane herself and her skills as a candidate.

Backlash against Corbett – Kane was a beneficiary of the backlash against Governor Tom Corbett for his prosecution in the Penn State-Sandusky scandal. She made that prosecution a major part of her campaign asserting that “Corbett probably played politics with the Sandusky investigation,” charging that he dragged out the investigation to avoid raising the ire of Penn State supporters.

Performance in Office – Kane’s first year has stamped her unique style as a careful cautious but aggressive prosecutor.  Early on she appointed a special prosecutor to review Corbett’s handling of the Sandusky case. Later she stopped Governor Corbett from carrying out an unpopular plan to privatize the Pennsylvania lottery. Among other things she refused to prosecute a Montgomery County official who issued marriage licenses to same sex couples and agreed to prosecute a woman who aided her father’s death in a nationally observed case involving the right of terminally ill patients to end their own lives.

Charisma in a charisma starved state – Lastly but certainly not least, Kane has brought some style, poise and aplomb – in a word charisma – to a state not known for it. Her charisma together with an inclination to cautious rhetoric helped her in the attorney general’s race to overcome a lack of experience and familiarity in state politics. In office that same style has helped her navigate the sometimes treacherous shoals of state politics while giving her a distinctive persona among statewide politicians. It’s likely to continue to help her enormously in the years ahead–already building heady expectations that she will soon run for major state office.

Kane’s early success notwithstanding, she also has had her critics. Some have charged her with blatantly politicizing the attorney general’s office. She has also been accused of nepotism for promoting her sister to lead a new child predator office while many Corbett supporters believe she has been unnecessarily partisan and antagonistic toward the governor.

Probably her biggest challenge ahead is handling the findings of the special prosecutor now looking into how the Sandusky investigation was conducted. Both the findings and timing of this much awaited report could be explosive. Its actual findings with regard to Corbett and when it is delivered are critically important to Kane’s image and reputation. If the report seems politically motivated to hurt Corbett, especially in the timing of its release, Kane’s image for fairness and professionalism will suffer.

Critically for Kane there is a substantial question about how much control she exercises over either the timing or the content of the report. How Kathleen Kane manages this delicate moment for Tom Corbett may turn out to be an even more delicate moment for her.

Politically Uncorrected: Coming to Terms with America’s Interminable Problem

const conventionThere’s good news and bad news these days for the Obama administration. The bad news: President Obama’s anemic approval rating has plummeted to 40 percent; the good news, it probably can’t go much lower.

But, both the good news and the bad news for Obama isn’t news at all to students of the American presidency. In fact, Obama’s inexorable erosion of political support is a depressingly old pattern in modern American politics.

Since World War II, the phenomenon of re-elected presidents losing their support during their second term has become the norm. Obama’s decline is only the most recent example of a fate suffered by most two-term presidents.

Consider the record. The final two years of second termers has brought almost unrelieved woe for presidents since Dwight Eisenhower. Lyndon Johnson was elected overwhelmingly in 1964, but by 1968, the Vietnam quagmire forced him to withdraw as a presidential candidate. Nixon trounced his opponent in 1972, but by 1974, he resigned facing certain impeachment. Clinton won convincingly in 1996, only to be impeached in 1998. Bush, a 500,000 popular vote winner in 2004 ultimately rivaled Truman for claim to the most unpopular president in modern times. Even Reagan struggled with Iran Contra.

Each troubled president encountered unique problems: for LBJ, it was Vietnam; for Nixon, the Watergate cover-up; for Clinton, his personal behavior in office; for Bush, the Iraq War, and now for Obama, health care.

But underneath these surface differences lay the common denominator described by one scholar as “the six-year itch:” voters’ patience with the incumbent expires long before the second term does.

The causes of the six-year itch are well understood. One is simply time in office. The longer an administration holds power, the more it incurs the costs of governing: poor decisions, policy miscues, staffing changes, and bad behavior bear their bitterest fruit in second terms.

Another factor bearing down on ebbing presidencies is the absence of a substantial second term agenda. This lack of exciting proposals is almost endemic to second terms. The big ideas mostly come in first terms.

Yet another cause of the six-year itch is the toxic partisanship in contemporary politics. Second term presidents today almost inevitably work in a hostile political environment, even while rivals jockey for opportunities to embarrass or harass them.

Four years may not be enough for a successful president, but eight years is too much for most presidents. Is there not a happy compromise–a term long enough to be effective, but short enough to avoid painful death watches like the country now endures waiting for Obama’s term to end?

Such a compromise does exist and it’s the six-year term: a proposal that would amend the U.S. Constitution to provide a single six-year term for the president and vice president.

The six-year term is a good idea, but it’s not a new idea. It was originally proposed in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and has been advanced intermittently throughout American history. At least nine former presidents have endorsed it, including Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, Rutherford Hayes, William Harrison, and William Taft. In modern times, the six-year term has been advocated by Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.

Proposals advocating the six-year term usually emphasize its public policy payoffs. Relieved of the need to run for re-election, presidents could tackle those complex national problems which seem so often to elude serious solutions. In short, the six-year term would take electoral politics out of public policy.

But an even stronger reason for the six-year term is that it fits the normal ebb and flow of presidential effectiveness over about six years. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons so many former U.S. presidents have advocated the six-year term was their personal experience with this inevitable erosion in effectiveness that marks the second term.

With so many arguments favoring a six-year term, why don’t we already have one? Sheer inertia is part of the answer. Major institutional change always triggers resistance. We muddle through painful periods like the present Obama interregnum until rescued by a new president and a new day. Then we promptly forget our angst until, almost without fail, it happens again.

Beyond inertia, familiarity with the present two-term system causes some to oppose the six-year term. It is the devil we know and some prefer it mainly for that reason.

This preference for the status quo carries an enormous cost incurred during the second term of most two termers. When an incumbent president loses the nation’s trust as Obama has done, they almost never regain it. Consequently, President Obama’s present loss of influence means meaningful effort to solve the nation’s most pressing problems must wait until we have a new president. Urgent problems like immigration reform, gun control or reaching a “grand bargain” on budget and debt policy probably can’t be resolved before 2017 at the earliest.

This state of affairs is sad and sobering; it is also avoidable.

As we hobble through the remaining days of the Obama Presidency, we have ample time to reflect on the costs of the six-year itch. Perhaps in an earlier and simpler time we could afford that cost. Few believe we still can.

12/13 Morning Buzz

400px-Manhattan_from_top_of_the_rockHappy PA Society weekend! The PA Chamber endorses Corbett, Rep. Murphy introduces his mental health reform bill and the Delco GOP have found their man. Good morning politicos, here’s the buzz.

ICYMI: The Full 2013 PA Society List of Events: It’s that time of year, politicos: Pennsylvania Society! Here’s a rundown of all the events at the weekend-long marathon of receptions and cocktails.

Entire PA Delegation Votes For Murray-Ryan: The recent cycle of government shutdowns is over – at least for the next two years.

One Year After Newtown, Murphy Unveils Mental Health Reform Bill: The Congressman and child psychiatrist introduced the legislation after a study of the nation’s mental health care system.

Delco GOP Taps McGarrigle for Erickson Seat: Republicans opted for the Council Council Chairman, a candidate without a Harrisburg pedigree – or links to Governor Corbett.

PA Chamber Endorses Corbett: The political action committee of the Pennsylvania business community endorsed Governor Tom Corbett for re-election.

Pawlowski Endorsed by Lehigh Valley Building Trades: The Democratic candidate for gov won the support of a trades council that includes 20 unions from his home area.

Legislative Election Update:

HD-74: In the newly created, heavily Democratic state house district, Chester County Republicans have come up with a candidate: Harry Lewis. Lewis is a retired principal from Coatesville Area Senior High School, track coach and PE teacher. He will face the winner of a primary between Downingtown Mayor Joshua Maxwell and Caln Township Commissioner Josh Young.

SD-26: Delco Republicans picked County Council Chairman Tom McGarrigle as their nominee for this Democratic leaning seat. The district comprises parts of Delaware and Chester counties and was made slightly more Republican in the latest round of redistricting, but its party registration is 49.5% Republican, 39.4% Democratic. The likely Democratic nominee is John Kane, 53, the business manager of the Plumbers Union Local 690 which serves the Philadelphia region.

Statewide
State House Sound Bites: Lawmakers leave cards on table, pledging a return in January
State Impact: PA DEP opens oil and gas rules for public comment
State Impact: ExxonMobil: natural gas to be fastest-growing major fuel through 2040
Capitolwire: The latest on the CHIP kids and their possible Medicaid move
Capitolwire: Commission issues special education funding formula recommendations

Philadelphia
Daily News: A younger version of PA Society
Inquirer: Protesters gather outside Phila. immigration office
Inquirer: Package of child-protection bills headed to Corbett
Inquirer: Teamsters look to organize local law enforcement and correctional officers
Philly.com: The Obamacare deadline no one is talking about
PhillyClout: Israel to keep consulate in Philly
PhillyClout: Council passes flurry of bills before holiday break
PhillyClout: Council members spar over community development regulations

SEPA
Bucks County Courier Times: Taxes up, trash fee down in final Northampton budget
The Intelligencer: Pennridge seeking applicants for vacant board seat
Bucks Local News: Outgoing Langhorne Mayor Blaydon feted by borough council, the community for 31 years of public service

Pittsburgh
Tribune-Review: Region receives state grants for transportation-related improvements
Tribune-Review: Lawyers argue over sharing information in upcoming Turnpike corruption cases
Tribune-Review: Peduto’s latest offer of early retirement to city employees could cost nearly $9M
Tribune-Review: Peduto among mayors-elect to meet with Obama on Friday
Early Returns: County council budget: Unanimous, for now
WTAE: Rougher transition: Mayor Luke Ravenstahl votes for pension change opposed by Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto
WTAE: Pa. House OKs bill to allow $25 bounty on coyotes
WTAE: Complete statewide Pa. school grade data released

Southwest
New Castle News: Gas tax increasing for road improvements
Indiana Gazette: County recognizes jail program
Indiana Gazette: Tax official faces audit
Indiana Gazette: Commissioners salute Wildcats football
Beaver County Times: Smith proposes bill as part of women’s health agenda
Beaver County Times: Matzie: Bill would protect health insurance consumers
Altoona Mirror: Mayor, councilman say their goodbyes
WTAJ: New Flood Maps Causing Concern

NEPA
AP: Pa. AG takes computer records from pension agency
Times Leader: More Pennsylvanians pick plan on insurance exchange
Times Leader: County manager faces public question time
Times Leader: New DEP chief catches heat for climate remarks
Times Leader: Casey wants vote on flood insurance bill
Citizens’ Voice: County council designates money transfer to fund secretary position
News Item: Commissioners appeal county row officers’ preliminary injunction
Pike County Courier: Activists decry gas companies’ exploitation of Pennsylvania and Pike
Pike County Courier: Auditor General DePasquale releases Pension Plan Audits for municipalities
News Eagle: Gun manufacturer buys business park
PA Homepage: Passing of Carbon Monoxide Bill is Bittersweet for Monroe County Woman
Republican Herald: Educators say goodbye to AYP, welcome new state grading system

South Central
Patriot-News: Midstate GOP congressmen rally behind two-year federal budget plan
Patriot-News: Former Hershey chocolate factory falls to make way for downtown development
Patriot-News: Papenfuse headed to Washington for meeting with Obama
Patriot-News: Harrisburg’s hope evident at Papenfuse’s first town hall
Lebanon Daily News: Tax hike on horizon in West Cornwall
Lebanon Daily News: South Londonderry board OKs $2.7M budget for 2014

Lehigh Valley
Morning Call: Moore Township plans to hold line on taxes
Morning Call: Williams Township supervisor wants to talk to Chrin; property tax rate to rise
Morning Call: Allentown schools projecting $10.6 million deficit
Reading Eagle: Berks County commissioners approve $460.6 million budget
Express-Times: Allentown School District facing $10.6 million shortfall
Express-Times: Bethlehem council approves salary increases, decreases
Express-Times: Northampton County Council approves $3.8 million deal to continue prison treatment programs

North by Northwest
Williamsport Sun-Gazette: Mansfield Borough passes no-tax-hike budget
Williamsport Sun-Gazette: High Steel expansion linked to NY bridge project
Centre Daily: Former Centre County district attorney giving up law career

Opinions
Post-Gazette: Jailhouse talk : The county must ensure proper inmate care
Altoona Mirror: President’s wind power allegiance hypocritical
Tribune-Democrat: It’s a crime; Somerset Co. taxes to rise | Unlawful activity blamed for spike
Bucks County Courier Times: One-time background check not enough
Daily News: DN Editorial: Cougar-ific
Williamsport Sun-Gazette: Ultimate verdict on road bill years away

Blogs
Keystone Politics: Philly should copy Pittsburgh’s 40 percent parking tax
Keystone Politics: The gas tax is better than VMT
Keystone State Education Coalition: PA Ed Policy Roundup for December 12, 2013: The state budget line for Special Education funding in Pennsylvania has been flat for 6 years running. However, mandated services provided by schools between 08-09 and 11-12 increased by $453 million.
Commonwealth Foundation: Outdated seniority rules harm Pittsburgh students
Above Average Jane: Pennsylvania agenda for women’s health
Down With Tyranny: Guest Post By Ed Pawlowski, Candidate To Replace Tom Corbett As Governor Of Pennsylvania

Can Pennsylvania Democrats Pick Up Any US House Seats with Corbett Loss?

PA-US-Congressional-Districts-All1The reelection prospects of embattled Republican Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett have been journalistic catnip over the last year, with storylines ranging from failed whispers within the GOP to persuade the governor to retire, to speculation he could be knocked out in a Republican primary, to the very long line of Democratic contenders itching to get a chance at facing the nation’s most vulnerable GOP governor in the general election.

But Pennsylvania Democrats are facing their own struggles – including their attempt to win back a few of the seven U.S. House seats lost between the 2008 and 2012 cycles when the party’s delegation decreased from 12 members to just five.

(Smart Politics previously reported on how redistricting has produced a historically undersized Democratic U.S. House delegation in the 113th Congress vis-à-vis the state’s presidential vote).

At the moment, however, most of the 13 GOP congressional districts seem safe, with Mike Fitzpatrick’s 8th CD seat perhaps the most likely to flip.

That means Democrats in Washington are counting on a very strong performance by their gubernatorial nominee at the top of the ticket (with U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz the early favorite) to give some of the party’s down the ballot U.S. House hopefuls a chance at victory.

For, as it stands now, a Democratic gubernatorial pick-up in 2014 without the party netting at least two congressional seats would make electoral history in the Keystone State.

A Smart Politics review of Pennsylvania election data finds that the lowest percentage of U.S. House seats elected alongside the party of the state’s winning gubernatorial candidate is 36 percent, set in 1890.

Democrats won the governor’s mansion that cycle with Robert Pattison but carried just 10 of 28 congressional seats.

Since the birth of the modern two-party system in 1828, there have been 42 gubernatorial elections conducted in Pennsylvania that coincided with elections to the U.S. House.

Overall, 765 of the 1,177 congressional seats on the ballot in such cycles during this 185-year span were carried by the winning gubernatorial candidate, or an average of 65 percent.

In 32 of these cycles, the party of the victorious gubernatorial candidate carried at least half of the congressional seats – peaking at over 80 percent nine times:

· 1872 (Republicans): 82 percent, 22 of 27 seats (Governor John Hartranft)

· 1894 (Republicans): 93 percent, 28 of 30 seats (Daniel Hastings)

· 1902 (Republicans): 88 percent, 28 of 32 seats (Samuel Pennypacker)

· 1914 (Republicans): 83 percent, 30 of 36 seats (Martin Brumbaugh)

· 1918 (Republicans): 81 percent, 29 of 36 seats (William Sprout)

· 1922 (Republicans): 83 percent, 30 of 36 seats (Gifford Pinchot)

· 1926 (Republicans): 94 percent, 34 of 36 seats (John Fisher)

· 1930 (Republicans): 92 percent, 33 of 36 seats (Giffort Pinchot)

· 1946 (Republicans): 85 percent, 28 of 33 seats (Jim Duff)

Over the last 15 cycles since 1954, the only time a gubernatorial candidate has been elected along with at least 60 percent of his party’s U.S. House seats was in 2010 when Corbett and 12 of 19 Republican U.S. House nominees were victorious (63 percent).

In 10 cycles during the two-party era, less than half of the state’s congressional seats – but no less than 36 percent – came from the party of the elected governor, with seven of these cycles taking place during the last 50 years:

· 1882 (Democrats): 43 percent, 12 of 28 seats (Governor Robert Pattison)

· 1890 (Democrats): 36 percent, 10 of 28 seats (Robert Pattison)

· 1954 (Democrats): 47 percent, 14 of 30 seats (George Leader)

· 1966 (Republicans): 48 percent, 13 of 27 seats (Raymond Shafer)

· 1978 (Republicans): 40 percent, 10 of 25 seats (Dick Thornburgh)

· 1982 (Republicans): 44 percent, 10 of 23 seats (Dick Thornburgh)

· 1990 (Democrats): 48 percent, 11 of 23 seats (Bob Casey)

· 1994 (Republicans): 48 percent, 10 of 21 seats (Tom Ridge)

· 1998 (Republicans): 48 percent, 10 of 21 seats (Tom Ridge)

· 2002 (Democrats): 37 percent, 7 of 19 seats (Ed Rendell)

Democrats currently hold 28 percent of Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional seats (five of 18).

As such, if the Democratic Party does indeed take back the governor’s mansion in 2014, it will have to net two U.S. House seats to avoid setting the record for the weakest gubernatorial coattails in congressional races in Keystone State history.

In order to reach the historical statewide average of 65 percent, Democrats would have the unfathomable task of netting seven seats.

Pennsylvania U.S. House Seats Carried by Party of Winning Gubernatorial Candidate, 1832-2010

Cycle Winning candidate Party US House seats Total Seats % Seats
1832 George Wolf Democrat 14 28 50.0
1838 David Porter Democrat 17 28 60.7
1844 Francis Shunk Democrat 12 24 50.0
1848 William Johnston Whig 13 24 54.2
1854 James Pollock Whig 16* 24 66.7
1860 Andrew Curtin Republican 19 25 76.0
1866 John Geary Republican 18 24 75.0
1872 John Hartranft Republican 22 27 81.5
1878 Henry Hoyt Republican 17 27 63.0
1882 Robert Pattison Democrat 12 28 42.9
1886 James Beaver Republican 20 28 71.4
1890 Robert Pattison Democrat 10 28 35.7
1894 Daniel Hastings Republican 28 30 93.3
1898 William Stone Republican 20 30 66.7
1902 Samuel Pennypacker Republican 28 32 87.5
1906 Edwin Stuart Republican 25 32 78.1
1910 J.K. Tener Republican 23 32 71.9
1914 Martin Brumbaugh Republican 30 36 83.3
1918 William Sprout Republican 29 36 80.6
1922 Gifford Pinchot Republican 30 36 83.3
1926 John Fisher Republican 34 36 94.4
1930 Gifford Pinchot Republican 33 36 91.7
1934 George Earle Democrat 23 34 67.6
1938 Arthur James Republican 19 34 55.9
1942 Edward Martin Republican 19 33 57.6
1946 Jim Duff Republican 28 33 84.8
1950 John Fine Republican 20 33 60.6
1954 George Leader Democrat 14 30 46.7
1958 David Lawrence Democrat 16 30 53.3
1962 William Scranton Republican 14 27 51.9
1966 Raymond Shafer Republican 13 27 48.1
1970 Milton Shapp Democrat 14 27 51.9
1974 Milton Shapp Democrat 14 25 56.0
1978 Dick Thornburgh Republican 15 25 40.0
1982 Dick Thornburgh Republican 13 23 43.5
1986 Bob Casey, Sr. Democrat 12 23 52.2
1990 Bob Casey, Sr. Democrat 11 23 47.8
1994 Tom Ridge Republican 10 21 47.6
1998 Tom Ridge Republican 10 21 47.6
2002 Ed Rendell Democrat 7 19 36.8
2006 Ed Rendell Democrat 11 19 57.9
2010 Tom Corbett Republican 12 19 63.2

* Includes coalition of Opposition, Whig, and Republican U.S. Representatives. Table compiled by Smart Politics.
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Smart Politics is a non-partisan political news site authored and founded in 2006 by Dr. Eric Ostermeier, a Research Associate at the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance (CSPG) at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. If you have any questions about Smart Politics please contact the author.

Originally posted here. Republished with permission.

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