PA-8: DCCC, Rendell Trying to Push Santarsiero Out of the Race

Naughton SantarsieroDemocratic Party leaders in Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. are beginning a push to convince PA-8 candidate and State Rep. Steve Santarsiero to drop out of the race.

According to a Democratic aide with close ties to the DCCC, the worries stem primarily from Santarsiero’s poor fundraising.

He was outraised in the second quarter by his opponent Shaughnessy Naughton, despite a $40,000 loan that the State Rep. gave to his campaign.

The leaders at the DCCC, who haven’t endorsed a candidate, met recently to discuss the 2016 congressional nationwide landscape. Along with the current regime, former DCCC head Steve Israel was also in attendance. They are particularly upset that Santarsiero’s numbers are so far behind similar Democratic candidates in highly targeted seats.

Pennsylvania’s Eighth District was described as a top three target in 2016.

The 8th consists of all of Bucks County (which has gone Democratic for the last six presidential elections) and a more rural, Republican part of Upper Montgomery County. Altogether, the district went to Mitt Romney by just a single point in 2012.

Additionally, popular four-term Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is retiring. Open seats are much more likely to switch parties and presidential election years tend to yield a more Democratic-leaning electorate.

Democrats see a prime pick-up opportunity and want to avoid a costly primary.

Last year, Naughton battled the DCCC-backed Kevin Strouse. In that contest, Strouse had a heavy financial advantage yet won by just 817 votes.

Party leaders want to avoid a similar fight. In fact, they’re envious of the way the Bucks County GOP have been able to clear the field for State Rep. Scott Petri. At the moment, Petri has two potential primary challengers but they aren’t perceived as serious threats and Republicans will likely rally behind Petri.

DCCC officials are also worried that Santarisiero’s record as a legislator in Harrisburg could prove to be an albatross in a general election campaign. The State Rep. has had to take many tough votes (including Gov. Corbett’s transportation bill) while Naughton has no track record to attack.

EMILY’s List, the powerful organization that promotes pro-choice female candidates, are also preparing to go all in for Naughton.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed that a Democratic ticket headed by presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, soon-to-be Senate candidate Katie McGinty and Congressional candidate Shaughnessy Naughton could have major appeal to female voters.

Finally, a major proponent of putting all the party’s resources behind Naughton has been former Gov. Ed Rendell. Rendell threw his support behind her in the waning days of the 2014 campaign and endorsed her as soon as she declared this time.

The ex-Governor is reaching out to contacts in D.C. and urging them to support Naughton.

Currently, Democrats are hoping to convince Santarsiero to drop out by the end of the next fundraising quarter to give Naughton sufficient time to pool her resources and gather strength for the upcoming general election in 2016.

PoliticsPA reached out to the DCCC, Governor Rendell and both campaigns. The DCCC and Naughton campaigns declined to comment. Gov. Rendell did not get back to PoliticsPA.

“We are excited about all the support for Steve so far, including grassroots support and endorsements from Democratic leaders, local committees, and organized labor,” responded the Santarsiero campaign. “This campaign is about the voters of the 8th District and we are confident we are building a campaign to win in 2016.”

UPDATE: NRCC Spokesman Chris Pack released the following statement in response:

“It’s nice to see that the DCCC still can’t get out of their own way by meddling in PA-08 yet again. We’re sure that 80-plus Democratic officials who have endorsed Steve Santarsiero are totally cool with D.C. Democrats coming to town to hand-pick their own candidate to try and advance Nancy Pelosi’s extreme agenda.”

UPDATE 2: The Santarsiero campaign sent a message from the candidate himself to PoliticsPA:

“The claim that Democrats are pushing us out of the race is ridiculous. I am proud to have received the endorsement of 8 local committees, Democratic leaders throughout the region, 9 unions and have out-raised my primary opponent to date. I know what it takes to beat Republicans and I’m the only candidate on either side with a record of winning in a swing district.  I’m confident that we are building the campaign we need to win in 2016 and this is a desperate move by a campaign that’s falling behind.”

UPDATE 3: DCCC spokesman Jermaine House sent the following response to PoliticsPA:

“The DCCC is not actively involved in shaping this primary. We are confident that either of the candidates in the race right now can win in 2016.”

36 Responses

  1. Missing from this article are the facts that would make it a credible report instead of an apparent Naughton campaign plant. This is low, but not a new low for Naughton whose m.o. is to get candidates to drop out of races she wants to enter, as she did in urging Steve Cickay to drop out of his State Senate campaign after she lost the 8th Congressional primary.

    The article fails to mention facts that PoliticsPa reported previously: that the Santarsiero campaign has raised more money overall than Naughton’s, and, according to, has raised a greater amount than the average House campaign committee.

    That said, Santarsiero has proven over and over that he can get the only thing that counts in the end—the votes needed to win from Democrats, Republicans and independents.
    Naughton, a supposed life-long resident of the district, lost her last primary to an unknown outsider who had never lived in the area prior to the campaign. She will lose again for the same reason: living in a community isn’t the same as serving in it, as Santarsiero has for over a decade. Actually, the article says it best: Santarsiero has had to ” ‘take many tough votes’ while Naughton has no track record.” Operative phrase –“no track record.”

    And how insulting to assume that Naughton would have more appeal to women voters because she’s a female. We’re much more concerned with what’s between a candidate’s ears.

  2. here we go again: why does the machine think it can tell the grassroots for whom to vote in PA-08? i hope Steve stays in the race and defeats the handpicked top down candidate whose main appeal seems to be to the sexists who will vote for any given woman candidate over any man without considering credentials. it reminds me of the recent topdown machine line that mcGinty will draw woman voters in droves because..? well, because she’s a gal running against a man, of course.

  3. Oh look Shaughnessy’s Campaign Manager/Boyfriend/Paid Hack Josh Morrow wrote a story and emailed it to Politicspa and then they published it. Then Politicspa included some updates because they are managed by a child journalist in charge of toddler journalists and have the editorial ability of my cat.

  4. Steve Santarsiero has an accomplished record of getting things done and representing his constituents. He has been a leader on environmental issues like fracking. He has forced PECO to be responsible for failing to provide quality electrical service. He has a strong stand on protecting public education for our kids. In comparison, Naughton’s credentials include being a female business leader. Being a female should not be part of one’s credentials. Achievements should be the main driver of one’s capabilities in office.

  5. Unknown-

    Not to speak ill of the departed, but Richard rarely seemed to know anything useful.

    His role as an advisor appeared to be based on some experience he had organizing for Sestak and some potentially useful contacts he may have made around the state or some familiarity with seconds. The McCord campaign tried recruiting a political friend of mine in western PA, and he (and others) turned them down when it was reverse they’d be working under the direction of a Sestak. Apparently, some bad memories from his brother’s campaign.

    But, for his political failings, Richard was pretty careful to keep stuff private. Unless he was cutting some kind of unethical deal for his brother with McCord, or maybe explaining why he/Joe had no more mojo with the Clintons, I can’t imagine he had much to say of interest to the FBI. Maybe he and McCord could have discussed a scheme to evade campaign finance limits. But, still, I doubt he admitted to anything that would sink his brother.

    It would be hilarious if he did reveal something, but that’s wishful thinking. You seem to think something was revealed, but unless you can be more specific, I can’t put much hope behind it.

    Back in 2009-2010 timeframe, there was an individual who claimed Joe’s 2006 campaign had received large unreported donations from a union. This individual claimed to have gone to the FBI with enough evidence for them to mount an investigation. The reporter running the popular pa2010 site interviewed this individual, found him convincing, but could not corroborate his story. If the allegations had been true, the FBI should have had little trouble tracing the money, but to my knowledge, nothing ever came of the supposed investigation (if there really was one in the first place). I bring this up, because it’s the only other scenario I can think of that, if true, would be juicy enough for a wiretap. But, even then, it would require McCord wanting to do something similar and convincing Richard to go along. It’s highly doubtful that Richard would stick his neck out to help McCord in such a scheme, let alone discuss a past scheme.

    Beyond being on the Sestak campaign “payroll” for free health insurance, I doubt Richard would involve himself in anything wiretap worthy.

  6. I love it when Democrats eat each other.

    Fighting about representing Israel, gender, race. Oh man, identity politics coming back to bite you.

  7. Diano: Forgive the digression – but former PA Treasurer Rob McCord apparently wore a wire at the height of his campaign for governor. In the months prior to his untimely demise, Richard Sestak was an advisor to McCord’s failed bid. Richard, of course, guided his brother through many pitfalls in 06′, 08′ and 2010. In 2008, Richard Sestak also worked on Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated presidential effort.

    Just imagine the discussions McCord is having with the feds at present…

  8. Steve will very easy win the District. Spendel is a carpetbagger promoting another carpetbagger. Return him to the Eagles Post Game Show where he can add nothing and do little harm.

  9. When Naughton lost to Kevin Strouse in the Congressional primary, she enlisted Rendell to try and convince Steve Cikay to step aside in the PA race. Bucks voters did not agree. We back Steve Santarsiero 100%.

  10. Saddened to see journalistic standards drop at PoliticsPa. This story is a plant. The two main sources, the DCCC and Rendell, either deny the facts, if there are any, or refuse to comment. This is nothing but a rumor masquerading as a story. Support among rank and file Democrats in Bucks is overwhelmingly behind Santarsiero. The only fact in this entire story is that the only way Naughton could win the nomination is if Santarsiero would drop out.

  11. Exactly when has Ed Rendell backed a winner in ANY race? Who was he behind in the Obama/Hillary primary? Actual Dems should run far, far away from anyone he annoints. He has a nose for Losers.

    Speaking of losers, anyone who steals someone else’s name in a comments section ought to go read a dictionary – there are lots of other words in there.

  12. Hey Nick Field, why do all your articles about Naughton sound like they were written by her flack?

  13. Unknown-

    Well, Rendell is quite the famous skirt chaser, but that’s probably his night job.

  14. Way to go Naughton! Steve’s going to have to step up his game, and find some dirt on her otherwise he’s toast! If I was the Santarserio campaign, I’d be digging for dirt right now…

  15. Diano: Rendell is far to preoccupied with blonde strumpets and harlots to fulfill the duties of any full-time position.

  16. This seems like much ado about nothing. A rumor becomes a story which both the DCCC and Santarsiero deny has any legitimacy. Not sure what one is supposed to take away from this…

  17. LeighVal_Dave:

    “Steve only has his awful fundraising to blame.”

    If this story is accurate, that’s pretty much all there is. And this totally sounds like the D-Trip’s MO.

  18. Gotta love it. However, I believe Petri is a weak candidate for GOP. Long RINO voting history. He is slightly more conservative than DiGiralamo.

  19. @zachary Rubin.

    Yes, antisemitism when the DCCC recuriting chair is a guy named Steve Israel.

  20. Female + blonde = Rendell’s support

    Plus there may be some dislike between Rendell and Santasiero.

    This is a disgrace. Ok, so the only rationale is she is a woman with no track record and will automatically capture the down ballot vote. Not so fast: Bucks likes their locals and she lived in Center City until she wanted to run.

    Even if Naughton wins, it will be by very thin margins and she will be thrown out in 2018.

  21. You have to question the antisemitic nature of whats going here. Steve has been forefront of change in Bucks County.

  22. No thanks, Mr. Rendell. We in the 8th know who will have our backs in Washington. Steve Santarsiero will win in May, and in November!

  23. Who’s this so-called Democratic aide? This report is shockingly suspect, even for a blog. That’s a major allegation to print without actual proof or a second source. This “aide” is probably just someone connected to Naughton’s camp or Emily’s List who just took PoliticsPA for a ride. Naughton’s support in Bucks is so incredibly thin she could outspend Santarsiero and still lose by a wide margin.

  24. Sue-

    Probably cheese-steak taste tester as well.

    But as lobbyist/pundit is would be part of his day job to help pick candidates he wants to lobby.

  25. Pretty telling that the most positive comments about Santaseiro were from NRCC! Obvious who they would rather run against.

    Steve only has his awful fundraising to blame. She outraised him almost 2 to 1 last quarter. Between EMILY’S LIST and DCCC the writing is on the wall. The only question now is does he do the right thing and drop out and give Dems the best chance to win the seat?

  26. Sue, PA-08 doesn’t need a lobbyist/pundit and that is why we got Patrick Murphy out of office.

    Shaughnessy will get the nod as soon as John Cordisco tastes the forbidden fruit.

  27. Stick to your day job, Mr. Rendell!we do NOT need a lobbyist/pundit person running our party

  28. Wow, looks like Steve’s campaign just hit an iceberg. I guess he’s the next in line of many failed state legislators who look great on paper, but couldn’t take it to the next level. Running for Congress is a major undertaking, only candidates who raise money have a shot. Maybe Steve should mortgage the house this quarter.

  29. Here they go again. First the DCCC solicits a candidate, and then pulls the rug out from underneath them. This is dirty pool. Santarsiero is the better candidate and the better person. We need him in the Congress.

  30. Wow. Just wow. Naughton is a flawed candidate, Santaserio was recruited to run…and now they’re trying to push him out. Just wow.

Comments are closed.

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