PA is Keystone to Dem Hopes at U.S. House

Rep. Mike Fitzatrick, left, and Kathy Boockvar (PA-8)

Democrats need to pick up 25 seats to win a majority in the U.S. House, but thanks to redistricting and retiring members in Republican-leaning districts, the real target is higher. That’s according to Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“Nationally, we need 25 seats to pick up the House. Now, we are defending some seats as well, so frankly, we need to pick up something like 35 seats because of redistricting and other losses,” Polis said.

Polis is the co-chair of the DCCC’s Red to Blue effort, meaning he’s charged with electing Democrats in seats currently held by Republicans. He has a lot to choose from in Pennsylvania.

On a call with reporters Wednesday, along with candidates Manan Trivedi (PA-6) and George Badey (PA-7), Polis said that Pa. was a big part of the party’s plans.

“We fully expect that of the 35 that we will pick up in November, several of those will be right here in Pennsylvania. It’s going to be a likely Obama state, and I think that in all three of these districts Obama will likely win,” Polis added. “We are fully expecting that the route to the majority will include pickups in Pennsylvania.”

In order to stretch the field nationally and lock down GOP resources, Dems must contest the races in Pa.

During the wave year of 2010, the GOP knocked off five Democratic incumbents in Pa. Of those five new GOP members, only two face challengers on the DCCC’s top tier Red to Blue list. Delayed recruiting and slow fundraising have hampered Democratic hopes of a rebound in the state.

Freshman Reps. Mike Kelly (R-Butler) and Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) are in districts drawn much safer for Republicans and are prohibitive favorites to win re-election. Likewise Rep. Charlie Dent, a perennial target of the DCCC, who drew an underfunded challenger. Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne) faces Gene Stilp, a well-known activist who, despite a unique profile, looks unlikely to compete with the incumbent financially.

In southwest Pa., Larry Maggi is designated as a DCCC “Emerging Race” in his challenge to Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny) – but he, too, trails the incumbent in fundraising.

In fact, because Rep. Mark Critz’s 12th district was drawn so favorably for Republicans, it’s conceivable that Democrats could actually finish the year with a net loss in the delegation. In any case, they’ll have to spend a lot of money to keep the seat.

That’s why they’re pushing hard in the Philly area.

In addition to Trivedi, who’s challenging Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Chester) and Badey, who’s challenging Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Delaware), the committee is aiming to help Kathy Boockvar, challenging Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) in PA-8.

Right now, Democrats think Boockvar has the strongest shot of the three, given the 8th district’s party registration and propensity to swing back and forth between parties.

All three Republican incumbents voted for the Ryan budget and its controversial changes to Medicare. Add that to presidential-year voter turnout in three districts that Obama won in 2008 and, the thinking goes, all three are vulnerable.

“We feel very good, if we are judged on our records and what we’ve done with our lives, that we will win this thing,” said Trivedi, a physician and Iraq war veteran. “I think people will recognize that turning Medicare into a voucher program is not the right way to go.”

However, a challenger with a good resume isn’t the same as a good challenger. It takes money to beat an incumbent.

At the end of the 2nd fundraising quarter back in June, Trivedi was at a cash on hand disadvantage of $359,000 compared to Gerlach. Boockvar fell behind Fitzpatrick by $781,000, and Badey lagged Meehan by $1,198,000.

Candidates have overcome steeper financial deficits to win in this region, but unlike recent cycles in 2006, 2008 and 2010, 2012 doesn’t look like it will be a wave year. All three will need a boost from the committee and related interest groups in order to compete.

Each of those districts is in the Philadelphia media market, the fourth-most expensive in the nation. An effective, sustained independent expenditure campaign by any committee from October through election day will cost at least $800,000 there, according to media consultants that spoke with PoliticsPA. That’s twice the cost of the average television market in the country.

So far the DCCC has reserved $3.57 million in Philly airtime for the fall, which has not yet been assigned to specific races. Assuming that the committee goes beyond the minimum to boost its top tier challenger in New Jersey’s 3rd district, also in the Philly market, they have enough to play the minimum in PA-6, PA-7 and PA-8 (and, of course, they could always decide to spend more).

Republicans are confident that Philly, and in turn plans to win the majority, won’t pan out for the DCCC. Brock McCreary, the Deputy Political & Polling Director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, says the Dems’ Pa. problem parallels their national problem.

“Their math for taking back the House is heavily dependent upon winning races in the Philadelphia market,” he said.

“But I think symbolically it’s a reflection of the fact that not having surefire competitive races there says a lot about what the national landscape is like for House Democrats this cycle.”

That’s another reason Democrats are pushing to make these three Philly area races more competitive. Every dollar they spend forces Republicans to spend money, too. That’s money that won’t go to protect other GOP incumbents or boost Republican challengers.

For Dems, it’s worth a try.

“We hope to give George Badey a boost by adding him to Red to Blue to be able to accelerate his own fundraising to get his message out,” Polis said. Badey sent three fundraising emails in as many days boasting of his promotion on Monday.

“And then of course, the DCCC communication piece is also there to help get our candidates across the finish line and win.”

16 Responses

  1. There haven’t been “independent minded Republicans” for some years now–they are following a disciplined national party agenda and all voted for the Ryan plan to end Medicare and Social Security. Get the Republicans out so the President can move jobs legislation forward!

  2. Fitzpatrick supports the Ryan plan for Medicare and the seniors today at an AARP meeting let Ryan know how much they do not approve.
    He was booed and called a liar. The grey panthers have awakened. Fitzpatrick can no longer lie to the seniors and get away with it.

  3. I’m guessing that Meehan and his minions must be getting kind of nervous that George Badey is now Red-to-Blue, a decision not made lightly by the party; how else to explain the inappropriate vitriol from Meehan’s staff?

    Here are the facts: Pat Meehan has hanged himself with his own hand. His votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, his votes to turn Medicare into a voucher, his votes against women’s reproductive health rights, his votes against extending tax cuts to the middle class while pushing for tax cuts to the wealthiest – all may have seemed like a safe bet when the Tea Party was in ascendance; now, however, they will come back to haunt him on Election Day. But I’m sure that Tea Party Pat will find himself another political job – maybe Rick Santorum will hire him back to do his memoirs.

  4. Boockvar has the best chance because Mike Fitzpatrick is an incredibly poor incumbent when it comes to his voting record. Stripping medicare benefits from over 100,000 of his own constituents is always gonna get you in hot water. That’s why he hasn’t held a SINGLE town hall. He doesn’t want to talk about voting record

  5. George Badey doesn’t stand a chance in the 7th district. Pat serves his constituents to the fullest extent and understands the details of his district. Badey can’t compete with that….Plus if he’s not showing up to events, people aren’t going to know who he is. The DCCC can’t bail him out of this one.

  6. I have to agree with Twins. Phil Scollo is a fighter, and he is competing in a heavily gerrymandered district. Marino is vulnerable because he is just a bad legislator, so if Scollo keeps going, he just might make it.

  7. I’m not really sure about all the personal vitriol; it sounds like some people have axes to grind.

    The loan represents slightly less than 25% of the total money the campaign’s brought in, as of June 30, 2012. A $125k loan to your campaign is pretty small potatoes, compared to some candidates out there. That’s $375,000 worth of people and PACs spending their hard-earned cash on someone they think can win.

    Not saying Critz should get the rug pulled out from him, I think he’s a great Congressman who’s facing a tough race, and needs and deserves all the help he can get from DC. And I think it’s really good that the DCCC is doing so much to help campaigns like Badey’s, I really think that becoming Red to Blue will turn his lackluster fundraising around once and for all.

  8. I actually heard Phil Scollo speak at a recent event and he seems to be working harder than candidate I’ve met this cycle.
    I think we should support EVERY democrat not just those that so-called insiders think is important.

  9. I am pissed at that dumb slob Larry Maggi who wouldn’t even endorse Mark Critz in the primary race even though Mark is his Congressman! Larry hasn’t done sh@t to help the Ds keep that seat and he goes around arm in arm with Diana Vaughn and hasnt endorsed Rob Mcord. It’s no secret that Larry Maggi was even thinking of running in the 12th against Critz because he’s a nothing but a career politician looking for his next office bid. And now this POS is going to drain resources away from Mark so we lose this seat to Keith Doofus who is raising money hand over fist and just wait til Club for growth steps in and drops a cool million. Thanks for nothing Larry. You are a fraud and a disgrace. I can’t wait to see you get your butt kicked.

  10. After millionaire magi is done macing county workers and contractors all he’ll have to show for it is a criminal investigation.

    Eventually, larry and Diana irey ‘s unethical behavior will attract the feds. Or has it already? “Give my campaign money and I’ll give you that grant” (or contract) doesn’t sound so hot on wiretap.

  11. Larry Maggi loaned himself 150,000 to inflate his bottom line and make it appear like he’s got something going on other than all his ribbon cuttings and country buffets. He’s not on Red to Blue because the DCCC higher ups arent easily fooled by the funny money that rich lazy candidates give themselves in order to pull in party dollars at the expense of serious challenges like in the Critz race. Critz should be pissed at Larry trying to game the system because it’s likeMaggi taking money out of Mark’s pocket – highway robbery !

  12. Just want to point out that the difference in Cash on Hand between Larry Maggi and Tim Murphy is $617,000, which is less than the difference in cash in hand of two of the three Red to Blue races exhaustively covered in this article, significantly less than Boockvar’s $1.2 million deficit.
    Guess the reporter just didn’t look into the race that much. If he had, he would have seen that Maggi has only $100k less cash on hand than Trivedi, $20k less than Boockvar, and $200k more on hand than Badey.
    Not bad for someone who isn’t even Red to Blue.

  13. to delco obervser:
    i called you out last week, and I guess i will have to do it again. How dumb are you??? Please stop posting total garbage and tell your boss to get a stance on issues before he runs for Congress. Please, please, please do 15 minutes of independent research without your boss, Badey, looking over your shoulder, and you’ll realize you are working for the wrong candidate. Pat’s an independent minded Republican who works with Rs, Ds, unions, and business. Badey…is a mummer. GO PAT!!

  14. George Badey is a nice guy, but has a terribly uphill climb in PA 7. Pat Meehan is a snake and does not serve his constituents’ interests, but, other than Joe Sestak, not sure there was a Dem who could beat him. I hope we can take back the House without winning PA 7.

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