Another election is in the books. See who had a good year in 2012, and who wishes the Mayans were right.
Republicans. For the first time in decades (at least), the party lost every statewide office in Pa. this year. It’s a testament both to the Dem state party’s efforts to reorganize after 2010 as well as the boon that is Philadelphia. The President, Senator Casey and the row office candidates made it look easy. The GOP also had its biggest slip in the Pa. Senate in years. They held the line in the state House and expanded their congressional delegation, but the top ticket races made the state look very blue. And that brings us to…
Pennsylvania. A top tier battleground state for a generation, Pa. slid big time in 2012. From June until nearly November, both parties largely ignored the state. Only a final week ad blitz by the GOP and a visit from Mitt Romney helped TV stations cut their advertising revenue losses. And if the Dems nominate Hillary in 2016, it’s very tough to imagine the GOP doing much better.
Incumbents. After three straight years of wave elections, voters finally realized that neither party has a monopoly on overpromising. Only two incumbents lost on election day in November (U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Cambria, and state Rep. Tom Quigley, R-Montco). Just five state reps and one member of Congress lost primaries (two if you count U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire).
Pa. Journalism. Not just one but two Pulitzer Prizes. That’s Pennsylvania’s record in 2012. The Harrisburg Patriot-News won the prize for breaking the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the Philadelphia Inquirer won for exposing violence in city schools. Plus StateImpactPA just won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards for its coverage of Marcellus shale development.
Voter ID. The controversial measure was poised to take effect for the November election, but a series of problems on the part of the administration earned it a boot from state judges. At every turn it appeared the state had underestimated the number of voters without ID and hadn’t solved the logistical problems of getting photo ID to citizens. Plus, Democrats took full advantage of the issue to rally their base, especially in the African American community. All that said, Voter ID proponents will have the last laugh. The law is slated to be in place for 2013.
Luke Ravenstahl. It will be hard for any challenger to topple the incumbent mayor when, by most accounts, Pittsburgh is doing pretty well. The Brookings Institution report found the city is one of just three in the country that has fully recovered from the recession. And it’s been racking up accolades like “most livable city” from Forbes. It would be hard for any challenger, but even harder if all three potential opponents get in the race for the 2013 primary.
Legislative Reapportionment Commission. It’s not very often that the Pa. Supreme Court throws out a redistricting plan for state house and senate districts. In fact, it hadn’t happened since the current state constitution was adopted in 1968. But the Court sentenced the five members of the LRC and their staff to months of additional deliberations when 4 of 7 justices deemed the first version of the map divided too many municipalities. The decision, handed down around petition time, threw the entire election into chaos for weeks.
Kathleen Kane. Harrisburg will see lots of new faces next year, but none with the rock star potential of Kane. She shattered 30 years of precedent to become the first woman and first Democrat elected as Pa. Attorney General and won her race with the widest margin of victory of any statewide candidate. If she delivers on her first term as strongly as Democrats hope (and proves to be a sustained headache for Tom Corbett), don’t be surprised to see her land a prime time speaking spot at the DNC in 2016.