Happy New Year, politicos! Here’s a look back at who made the best of the year 2013, and who would like a do-over.
Tom Corbett. The Governor’s path to a second term has looked narrower and narrower with every poll that comes out. Pollsters will tell you that 50 is the magic number. If an incumbent’s job approval is at 50%, he or she has a decent path to re-election. For most of 2013, Corbett has been in the 30s. What’s worse, he hasn’t shown the ability to proactively improve his numbers. Just the opposite, he has the ability to turn a casual interview into a PR headache.
Kathleen Kane. There’s no doubt about it: Pennsylvania’s Attorney General is a Democratic party star. Party leaders, columnists, political scientists and rank and file Democrats think Kane is going places. And she agrees. She’s flirted with bids for Governor and recently U.S. Senate. The down side? Each time she stakes out a partisan or activist position comes at the expense of the outsider appeal that got her elected: her promise to be “a prosecutor, not a politician.”
GOP Majorities. Republicans hold majorities in the state House, state Senate and congressional delegation. None of those appear to be in danger in 2014. In fact, the GOP may even improve its margins in the state legislature thanks in part to the fact that the Pa. Supreme Court upheld GOP-friendly state legislative redistricting maps in May. Anti-Corbett sentiment, which may otherwise wash down the ballot, will be held in check by anti-Obama sentiment on the other side. Democrats are only seriously contesting one congressional seat. But Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a talented campaigner, starts the race as a big favorite.
Allyson Schwartz. The Congresswoman started the year as the marginal frontrunner of the Democratic gubernatorial field, and that’s how she will end it. A variety of factors prevented Schwartz from moving decisively into the drivers seat. Some were out of her control (conservative Democrats don’t like her background, it wasn’t initially clear what former Congressman Joe Sestak would do, etc). But some were. Her top-heavy campaign staff structure brought too many cooks into the kitchen. There was significant turnover. And evidently fundraising – historically a Schwartz strong suit – wasn’t up to snuff.
Pittsburgh Progressives. New York City has Bill de Blasio, Pittsburgh has Bill Peduto. Each rode a newly energized wave of the Democratic party and improbably overcame incumbent establishments for a primary win. In Pittsburgh, Peduto’s allies won every contested City Council race. They have promised to govern as progressive technocrats.